Chilly “Grammy” Gonzales!

After being nominated in 2008 with Feist for “The Reminder”, Chilly Gonzales’ name finally echoed through the holy halls of the Staples Center in Los Angeles last night, when he received a Grammy for his contribution to Daft Punk’s RAM.

Gonzales is ever-humble, downplaying his role on other people’s albums and taking none of the credit. RAM is no exception. Even his Tweet about winning is decidedly understated:

When interviewed by Nick Patch for the Canadian Press, Gonzales states that:

I’m technically nominated for album of the year as a featured artist, despite not really having done a deep, deep amount of work.

If you follow Gonzales at all, you know that he is not capable of false modesty; he truly means what he says about his role on RAM. But what exactly does that minute of piano music really represent? Certainly much more than the 6 hours of studio time he had to record it. In reality, that minute represents a veritable lifetime of study, travel, interviews, performances, blood (literally), sweat (oh yes), and tears (well, at least some glassy eyes). That’s not to say that a minute of piano music can truly express the unbelievable range Gonzales possesses, but it is a fitting stepping stone, from nomination, to award as a contributor, to outright winning a Grammy on his own accord. It’s as if the essence of decades dedicated to the piano and entertainment – musical genius concentrated in a bottle- resulted in a song called Within.

Later this post-award day, Gonzales added another humble statement about working with Daft Punk on Twitter:

This also says a lot about his approach when it comes to working together and picking collaborators. He often mentions that there are a few people in the music business – Daft Punk and Drake amongst them – that could make him do anything and any time. In other words, the degree of admiration and respect combined with his ability to divide the “good” from the “bad” built the compass leading him in the direction of an artist or not. In Daft Punk’s case, we speak of a musical long-term relationship dating back to 2001. There are many audible and visual contemporary witnesses documenting the winding path to the Grammy victory like this early appearance with one of the robots:

Or Gonzales’ unforgotten version (and performance) of the duo’s Too Long:

With this win, perhaps Gonzales’ greatest coup is to receive recognition from an industry that he purposefully rallied against – an industry that he seemingly declared as “irrelevant” back in the late 1990s. Fifteen years later, Gonzales’ vision is being realized, not only through winning a Grammy, but also clearing a path that truly independent artists can follow. We can’t be sure whether Gonzales finds industry awards disingenuous; the fact that Daft Punk included him in the Grammy nomination seems to affect him far greater than a distant nod from 6,000 U.S. voting members of The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. In 2010 during a CBC-recorded concert at the Glenn Gould theatre, Gonzales added a few “free-association” lyrics at the end of the song “Decisions”:

Get a Grammy nomination – don’t even bother showing up to the motherfucking ceremony

Well, at the very least, winning a Grammy will certainly open up some great new material for his concert banter, and expose his music to a wider audience. What we can say is that every single person who has heard his music has been touched in some way, and to see him receive industry recognition for his amazing gifts and talents is something that we were all hoping for.

Gonzales has worked incredibly hard to touch people on a personal, emotional level, and there isn’t a second of a show or recording where you doubt that he’s giving it all he’s got. Awards are great and validate what we’ve all felt from the moment we heard Gonzales, but it appears that Gonzales’ ultimate recognition is feeling and hearing global audiences react to his music.

Guinness World Record Holder, iPad commercial song composer, Grammy Award Winner – what’s next?! Respect, congratulations, and go Gonzo!

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