Chilly: “I, ii, iii, IV” vs. “XCX”

Gonzales’ recent article in The Guardian (Chilly Gonzales on musical tropes in 2014: when the chord progression died), examines the current trend of eschewing ‘traditional’ chord progressions and harmonic content in favour of a distinct and instantly identifiable ‘sound’. In a 2012 New Yorker article (The Song Machine), I was struck at how producers had to incorporate hooks into the intro, pre-chorus, chorus, and bridge, because artists only had 7 seconds of to ‘hook’ listeners. It’s possible that the introduction of a ‘sound’ attempts to mitigate the insatiable need for hooks in music, with a ‘sound’ for a song that would draw listeners in, but how did we ‘progress’ to this point? Gonzales’ article certainly struck a chord with readers, as feedback appeared swiftly. After reading the article and feedback a number of times, we wondered if there was a secondary, larger message within Gonzales view of the hits and musical trends of 2014. Continue reading

Gonzales: Etude Renewed

“Showing off is BORING.” – Chilly Gonzales, Re-Introduction Etudes

In the 60s, Sammy Davis Jr. recorded a series of intimate performances for the BBC, which they recently re-ran. Sammy danced, told stories and jokes, performed impressions, demonstrated expert gunplay, and (above all else), sang with the warmth of an old friend. With all of his showmanship, not once do you ever feel that he’s showing off – quite the opposite – you have the sense that he’s performing for the audience and nothing else. Instead of Sammy walking onstage and proclaiming, “Here I am!” it’s as if he walks out and says, “I’m so glad you’re here!” Continue reading

We are Europe – Chilly Gonzales Shakes the Old World

Europeans hardly see themselves as citizens of one nation. They consider themselves inhabitants of several independent countries pooled by an alliance of convenience, or worse: necessary evil. Even more in “our” times, when the EU is in danger, fighting monetary threats. On one hand, people benefit from open borders, and on the other, they seem to be more aware of the differences than of what unites us and the rich cultural heritage. Maybe it’s the lack of a common language; a European Esperanto. Yet, it’s the words of a Canadian that strikes a chord, and might bring some remedy for the sore EU citizen – especially the German soul. In an interview with renowned radio station Deutsche Welle he states: “I firmly believe that Europe is one land and Germany an important province of this land.” Continue reading

Musical Analysis Smackdown

…everywhere that I go, music nerds – Supervillain Music

Gonzales, in conjunction with WDR Einslive (1Live), has released two videos that musically dissect Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”, and Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Coming Home”. The videos have been very popular, garnering over 50,000 views in a short timeframe. It appears that there’s a pent-up demand for additional depth in music reviews, which is something that Gonzales has been doing for years. Actively sharing musical and entertainment insights in ways that are accessible to everyone is part of the reason why Gonzales has such a loyal following. Continue reading

Gonzales Re-Introduces the Piano

A true teacher is one who, keeping the past alive, is also able to understand the present.

Gonzales has released a book of etudes specifically geared towards a very large target audience; lapsed piano students. Remember way back, when your parents forced you to sit down in front of the piano and practice while all the other kids were outside riding their bikes? The piano seemed torturous, and you caused your parents so much grief that they eventually let you quit piano. Now you have regrets and wish there was some way to re-introduce yourself to the piano so you can finally feel that sense of musical accomplishment (and possibly inspire your own family). Continue reading

So you think you know Solo Piano (and more)?

Response to the first Solo Gonzales puzzle was overwhelming – happy to hear that so many Chilly Gonzales fans up for a challenge. As promised, we have developed puzzle number two, and we think it’s even a bit trickier than the first. This puzzle mainly covers from Presidential Suite all the way to Ivory Tower, and (as always) almost all of the clues are Gonz-related in some way. Continue reading

Working Together – Again

Ivory Tower was a great melding of Gonzales’ lush piano and Boys Noize’s driving rhythms, but rather than being a one-off project, it seems to have been just the beginning of a longer-term collaboration. Continue reading

So you think you know early Gonzo?

Fans of Chilly Gonzales have impeccable taste (obviously), and always seem up for a challenge, so we at SoloGonzales decided to create a series of Gonz-themed crossword puzzles that combine Gonzales history, songs, musical knowledge, and just about anything else related to Gonzales. Continue reading

Gonz’s Grand Unification

Man, this is war – where careers get killed and that’s not a metaphor – Gonzales Never Stop (Rap version)

War and conflict has and will always occur between predators and prey, rivals for mates, siblings, and even between parents and their offspring. While it’s possible that our species could have arrived where we are today in the absence of conflict, historical evidence overwhelmingly supports the notion that conflict played a huge role in establishing the relatively peaceful lifestyle we enjoy today. The problem is that we’re still ‘wired’ for conflict – we haven’t quite ‘given up the fight’. This is especially evident sporting events, where the struggle on the field emulates a ‘mini-war’ of sorts. In the same vein, life’s struggles weren’t lost on composers, who seem to constantly try to capture conflict within music and opera. The entertainment value of conflict within sports and music hasn’t escaped Gonzales, as he recently told Thomas Bärnthaler of Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitunh Magazin: Continue reading

Solo Piano: A Decade of Shadow Play

Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art. – Frédéric Chopin

10 years ago, in the fall of 2003, Gonzales began composing a series of short songs for solo piano that would eventually redefine his career and expose his music to a worldwide audience. Disenchanted with his role as producer for French icons such as Jane Birkin and Charles Aznavour, the recent Parisian transplant transformed his feelings of isolation into piano pieces that combined the emotion of Ravel, Debussy, and Satie with the pop sensibilities of Michael Jackson. The resulting album, appropriately dubbed “Solo Piano”, seemed to represent a radical departure from his previous ventures, which were more closely associated with prankster rap and hip-hop. Continue reading