Before we start, I just need to take a moment to acknowledge this man’s fantastic arty scowly eyebrows and general coiffure. Very French(Canadian).
So, Chilly Gonzales (actually Jason Beck), taught himself piano aged three, classically trained at McGill University in Canada. His first band to get much play was Son, which was doing okay-ish with Warner Brothers until their difficult-second-album, which was too different (and had a song called “Making a Jew Cry” on it, which is…probably hard to sell to commercial audiences).
In 1999 he skipped off to Berlin and started working with the Kitty-Yo label. Did a bunch of rap and some keyboard instrumentals. Did quite well in clubs and festivals. But it wasn’t until 2004 that he kicked off with the stuff I like him for, releasing an album called Solo Piano (his best seller to date).
In the meantime Gonzales continued to develop as a producer and songwriter for other artists, collaborating on singles and albums with Peaches, renowned chanteuse Jane Birkin and budding indie star Leslie Feist. The output of the latter collaboration—Feist’s 2003 album, “Let It Die”– became a bestseller, won critical acclaim and industry awards, and became the basis for her breakthrough as a mainstream pop artist. Gonzales returned as a key contributor on Feist’s 2007 album, “The Reminder”, which was nominated for a Grammy and won a Juno Award.
On May 18, 2009, at the Ciné 13 Théâtre (French), Paris, he broke a world record for the longest solo-artist performance with a total time of 27 hours, 3 minutes and 44 seconds, breaking a record set by Prasanna Gudi. He does tour, but sells out super-fast, so get tickets the second you get a chance.
Anyway, listen to his stuff, see if you like it. If you like the album stuff, try the live stuff (it’s quite different, even if the songs are the same). Put it on to go to sleep, listen to it when you have a “friend” for a “sleepover”, whack it on the stereo in the car, or on a Sunday morning when you’re reading the papers and making coffee that’s a bit too strong and not quite hot enough. Either way, listen to it. Listen to it and admire his slippers.