Gonz’ Summit: Swiss Bliss in Lucerne

I’ve been heavily addicted to Chilly Gonzales’ music for almost ten years now. It’s my mood booster, pain killer, soul balm and sometimes it just triggers the sweet state of melancholia. If I lived in the US, they would have probably tried to make me go to rehab. I’m glad I’ve stuck to this drug, because its quality has never been better, its taste has never been more well-rounded and the effect has never been more immediate, long-lasting and impactful than today. And I have proof for this assertion: If you manage not only to sell out a concert hall like beautifully purist KKL in Lucerne, but also to make people jump off their seats and honor your performance with standing ovations in the middle of a show, you have finally made it. Even more, if that happens in Switzerland – Zwingliland! Continue reading

Close Encounters of Octave Minds

Sometime in 2015, an Audi arts initiative called Zeitgeist Symbiosis selected Teufelsberg in Berlin as the first location for its launch of a new platform for creative experiments, and on September 3rd, the first musical guest to perform in the series were none other than Octave Minds: the collaborative namesake of Chilly Gonzales and Boys Noize. The event was recently re-broadcast on FluxFM and subsequently made available on the Zeitgeist Symbiosis website. Continue reading

Zeitgonz: Octave Minds Live in Berlin

Almost 17 years ago, Gonzales made his now-historic move from Toronto to Berlin in an effort to find an audience that aligned with his musical sensibilities. In many ways, Berlin became the spiritual birthplace of Chilly Gonzales – a persona that Gonzales imagined was “…a role model to some person that I’ve always wanted to be: my futuristic hero.” In the late 90s, Berlin was musically unique: a place where no one questioned the ‘ownership’ of hip-hop, which seamlessly blended in with other pop music, in sharp contrast to hip-hop’s then untouchable status in North America. Gonzales appeared to use his obscurity in Berlin to his advantage; honing and fine-tuning his image and message in Berlin spaces such as Galerie Berlintokyo. Recently, Gonzales announced his return to Berlin in conjunction with his musical friend and collaborator Boys Noize (Alex Ridha) for their very first live Octave Minds performance. Continue reading

O Chilly!

Clad in an elegant red robe and ‘formal’ dark slippers, Chilly Gonzales recently made one of his more surprising appearances during the opening ceremonies of the 2015 Pan American games in Toronto. The Pan Am games is a sporting event held every four years that brings together the best athletes from North and South America in friendly western-hemisphere competition, akin to a smaller version of the Olympic Games. The organizers of the opening events ceremony obviously wanted an iconic Canadian musician to provide an emotional response, possibly akin to Céline Dion and David Foster’s performance in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games – but with far more subtlety. The exposure and publicity from his performance has definitely helped to raise Gonzales’ profile in his native Canada, largely through people discussing, “The guy wearing the robe and slippers playing the piano.” It’s worthwhile to have a closer look at Gonzales’ performance, since everything from appearance to song selection made for a memorable Toronto evening. Continue reading

Gonzales: The new “New Romantic”

There’s an obvious, but almost always overlooked aspect of classical music: nearly all classical musicians are, essentially, a cover band in the sense that they are simply re-interpreting music that someone else wrote. Most listeners don’t have the training and experience to hear a Chopin Etude and say whether it’s Pollini or Lang Lang playing (interpreting). The vast majority of classical musicians have never published a single original composition. Even Glenn Gould, with all his performance and interpretive brilliance, never published a ‘hit’ – just a few mildly interesting pieces in his youth. Continue reading

Gonzales: Never Stop

Persistence, instincts, go the distance, prove my existence – Chilly Gonzales

Being a ‘man of his time’ is likely no easy feat for Gonzales – it must take a great deal of talent and planning to continually wow fans with release after release of incredible music. Nowhere but in the musical arena can artists reach soaring level of fame one day, then be brought back down to Earth the next. Some entertainers, such as Gonzales, have evaded the pitfalls of the industry by providing novel music and themes year after year. We decided to have a closer look at what it takes to stay relevant in the industry and have a guess as to what Gonzales has planned next. Continue reading

Chambers: The Montreal Concerts

Montreal is practically founded on the principles of faith, salvation and resurrection, and sitting high on the side of Mount Royal are two reminders of these tenets: Mount Royal Cross and St. Joseph’s Oratory. Strolling by Mount Royal on Avenue Parc, one can’t help but notice the 100-foot tall steel cross looking over the citizens. Originally wooden, the cross has been updated, replaced, and retrofitted over the 372 years since it was first erected by the founder of Montreal (Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve). A quick walk from the cross lies St. Joseph’s Oratory, which contains a chapel where one can find thousands of canes hanging off a wall overlooking thousands of candles. The canes were left behind when St. Joseph’s founder, Saint André Bessette, used his faith and healing powers to cure thousands of people of their ills. Continue reading

Chilly’s Carnival(se)

People in technology and business circles like to talk about ‘disruptive innovators’; people, companies, or products that subvert existing products and markets using new and innovative techniques. One of the most visible disruptors is the popularization of downloadable media: photographs, videos, books and music (which has recently surpassed sales of physical music). Eventually, some disruptors become mainstream, and everyone can enjoy the benefits of innovation – at least until the next disruptive cycle starts up. New innovations generally come from people outside the ‘accepted’ circle, since corporations have typically have no inclination to spend money on change if it isn’t forced (although that notion is changing slowly). In Canada, Gonzales may have started out following a well-worn path for musicians by signing his band Son to Warner, but he quickly saw the downsides of corporate ‘ownership’ and decided to make his career work outside of the system. Continue reading

‘q’ Gonzales

The iconic and hugely popular CBC radio show ‘q’ recently rebooted with a new host (the brilliant Canadian rapper Shad), and one of the show’s first musical guests was one of q’s favourite artists…Chilly Gonzales. Gonzales, who is back in Canada for a concert in Toronto and three consecutive nights in his hometown of Montreal, captivated the in-person and listening audiences with great stories, insight, and humour. Gonzales’ past q appearances generated a great deal of buzz, and his latest appearance packed a great deal of entertainment in 20 minutes. You can watch or listen to the show or podcast on CBC’s website, but we thought it would be a great idea to examine the new musical messages that Gonzales has been referring to on his latest tour. We’ll present the transcript of the interview and interject (in italics) where appropriate. Continue reading

Freud Analyzes Chambers

It’s curious how a concert can be construed as a therapy session en-masse with characters on both sides of the stage divide standing to benefit. The “psychologist” wears comfortable slippers and sits on a padded leather chair. He or she has a bevy of tools at hand for eliciting responses from audiences, including musical instruments, voice, other musicians, and willing (and not-so-willing) audience members. In North America, traveling illusionists such as “The Amazing Kreskin” or the late “Reveen”, blur the lines between entertainer, therapist, and illusionist, often employing therapy or other devices to not only entertain, but also to make grand statements on the nature of consciousness and one’s ability to believe. Continue reading