“Fantasy” (or “phantasy”) comprises a large part of any entertainment genre; movies, music, theatre, etc. Escaping the confines of reality for a couple of hours is worth a great deal of money to many industries. Fantasy isn’t just the domain of the entertainment industry; other more traditional businesses strive to incorporate an element of fantasy into their products: cars, restaurants, purses, food and so on. People require a healthy dose of fantasy to escape the reality of their (apparently) dull daily lives. Such is the nature of escapism. Everyone tends to have the occasional escape from reality, and it’s healthy and encouraged – as long as it doesn’t turn into delusion.
Fantasy and music have probably been connected for thousands of years; it may have been one the first sources of escapism that could be easily shared between a group of individuals. In the 1600s, an entire subgenre of classical music was dubbed “Fantasia”, which initially referred to imagined musical ideas, rather than music that could be pigeonholed into a particular genre. A few hundred years later, and the small flights of fancy that composers delved into have been turned into multi million dollar stage shows that aurally and visually transport the concertgoer to another reality. Anyone who has attended a live Gonzales show can attest to the fact that the audience is also transported to a different place, but not with 18,000 Watts of sound and a TV wall. In Different Kind of Prostitute, Gonzales explains:
Can’t you see? I sell fantasy, that’s what bonds my fans to me
So, what exactly is the ‘fantasy’ that Gonzales sells, and has a penchant for mentioning in interviews, and how does it create fans? Prostitutes (the traditional kind) sell fantasy of a more carnal nature, whereas Gonzales sells fantasies that revolve around emotions and humour. Here are a few fantasies that can derive from Gonzales’ music and persona:
The “Do Better” Fantasy
The sheer audacity and talent that exudes from Gonzales is inspirational to many. Listeners and audience members can see how much of himself he puts into his work, and how hard he works for the audience. Those traits are inspirational, and can lead others to dream of “doing better” in whatever they desire. This could range from raising children to writing reports, to sports or even other entertainers. It’s a rarity to see a solo entertainer give it ‘all they got’ each and every time.
The Emotional Fantasy
Music and emotions are closely connected. Some (like Mendelssohn) believe that music is far more precise than language when describing emotion. Being ‘carried’ away in a musical fantasy is the crux of all good songs; where one’s imagination runs rampant on hearing a beautiful and emotional melody. It is mildly addictive, as individuals strive to hear the same song over and over to take them to another place. People may think of relatives, a long-lost love, a place they visited, or even another planet.
The fact that the Blue Danube added an incredible amount of emotion to 2001 is a testament to the longevity of emotionally powerful music. Gonzales’ brother Jean-Christophe scores movies on this basis and is a master at delivering a specific emotional impact to movie scenes. The impact of Gonzales’ music may be even more powerful, since the emotional fantasy that accompanies his music is personalized and different for everyone.
The Ambitious Fantasy
Most people have a good sense of ambition, usually balanced with a moral compass that protects society from the effects of over-ambition. Still, when Gonzales admits that he’s ambitious and then follows-through, it can serve as a catalyst to others. People hearing Gonzales in an interview, or listening to his records or seeing him in concert can be inspired to try something they may not have normally tried. They may strive harder for their promotion, or work harder for that coveted role. Ambition (apart from the blind kind) can be a healthy and rewarding motivator.
The Skill Fantasy
Related to the “Do Better” and “Ambitions” fantasy is a fantasy of skill. Gonzales’ abilities evoke a fantasy whereby one becomes incredibly skillful at whatever they wish to excel at – to the point that other individuals seek their guidance and advice. Most people are good at something, but never quite feel the rarefied air of being one of the best in their field. Fantasizing about bettering oneself based on Gonzales’ skill can actually influence and drive people to increase their own skills and increase their sense of accomplishment. This could be as simple as becoming more adept at the piano; the skill fantasy can start small and pay off in all kinds of ways.
Gonzales likes to say that the delivery mechanism for his emotional payload is humour. It has been scientifically proven that humour makes you more open to suggestion, which more than likely applies to the emotion of music as well. A great sitcom combines many humorous elements with a single emotional impact that is driven deep. The emotion felt after humour is far more visceral than emotion alone. The ‘sweet-and-sour’ effect – so to speak. The emotional rollercoaster of biting humour, combined with ethereal melodies is addictive, which further reinforces the audience bonding effect that Gonzales so masterfully displays.
Fantasy and Truth
Gonzales recently said that, “It’s people’s fantasies where you find amazing truths.” His ability to capture and uniquely distribute what he feels are truths and fantasies worth sharing has an undeniable bonding effect. As far as products are concerned, the ability to bond with people is worth millions. For Gonzales, bonding seems to be at the core of many radiating paths, and it’s easier to venture farther from home when you have the unwavering support of family to come back to.