Artist Highlight: Chilly Gonzales

From one Canadian artist to another, today’s Artist Highlight is pianist extraordinaire Chilly Gonzales. The former world record holder for longest solo concert performance, Gonzales has worked with everyone from Feist to Drake to Daft Punk but is still relatively unknown publicly.

“Let’s Groove Again” by Gonzales

Shortly after moving from Canada to Berlin, Gonzales was signed by Kitty-Yo and unveiled the sound that would come to define the early part of his career. Gonzales’ humor set, in large part, his start with the Canadian band Son and it continues here with quirky faux-rap songs being primarily served with occasional instrumental interludes that showed off his impressive piano playing abilities. “Let’s Groove Again” was easily the breakout hit of his earlier work, showcasing his excellent ability in writing a defined melody even in what would otherwise be an obscured single.

“Gogol” by Gonzales

A timeless and haunting short piece by Gonzales illustrates his immense talent as both an artist and composer. Solo Piano, as a whole, became his calling card and the most critically acclaimed album of his career. Fellow Canadian Drake even used “The Tourist” as the outro for his breakthrough mixtape So Far Gone.

“My Moon My Man” by Feist

Along with Mocky, Chilly Gonzales frequently collaborated with Feist for all three of her albums, both as a performer and a songwriter (he shares the songwriting credits here with Feist). The pacing of the piano as the centerpiece for this song generates an interesting tension and counterbalances Feist’s vocals in a way that makes the song a bit of an earworm.

“Green Light” by Jamie Lidell

In addition to being a frequent collaborator with Feist, Gonzales also has worked closely with Jamie Lidell, earning co-writing credits on this track in addition to performing piano. With an almost 70’s lounge jazz feel, “Green Light” is kept earnest by Lidell’s absolutely serene vocals.

“You Can Dance” by Chilly Gonzales

Ivory Tower is the soundtrack to the film that was co-written and starred Chilly Gonzales and balances the many talents that have been well-established as trademarks within Gonzales’ career. Although based on a relatively simple structure, the chord progression is classic pop, with enough hand claps and “woo!” sounds to provide a stellar groove. Ivory Tower is also notable for featuring “Never Stop,” which was famously used by Apple for an iPad ad.

“Within” by Daft Punk

Recording his contributions in the span of a one-day session, Gonzales’ feature on Random Access Memories may seem minor but “Within” is not only a good song in its own right, it also serves as a lynchpin between the first three tracks which are in A minor and the following tracks that are in B-flat minor. Finding a way to compromise the two keys and getting a ballad on top of it is quite the accomplishment on what has been one of the more successful releases from Daft Punk.

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