Call & Response: Gonzales

Gonzales, the talented Canadian pianist/songwriter/producer, had to move to Europe to become famous. But nowadays he's slowly becoming well-known in North America for his creative piano-based pop, and his amazing work with Feist. In a world where someone like Rufus Wainwright can be really successful, I think Gonzales should be a household name. In addition to making his own quirky music, Gonzales also collaborates with a diverse group of artists. He will seemingly try anything - like breaking the Guinness World Record for longest concert by a solo artist (pictured above).

Back in 2004, Gonzales released a beautiful album in Europe called Solo Piano. It's still one of my favourite chillout albums. Arts&Crafts is re-releasing the album here as a deluxe re-issue with a bonus DVD containing performances and some odd bits like a crazy press conference in Berlin.

Gonzales plays the Mod Club on September 30. I spoke with him about the making of Solo Piano, working with Feist, and the pains that come with breaking a world record. There is also a contest!

blogTO: Is it really true that a stranger on the streets of East Berlin first called you "Chilly Gonzales"?

Gonzales: Yes! There was a Spanish soccer player called Kili Gonzales, he must have been referencing that unconsciously.

I've had an imported CD copy of "Solo Piano" since it first came out. I love it. What inspired you to record a stripped down album like that?

For people like you who appreciate it.

Was the album as easy to record/mix as one would think?

Not quite. I had a lot of help with the basic set-up and the mastering. But the middle part of actually composing and playing was easy in that it I had all the time in the world and was very motivated.

In the liner notes you wrote that you "imagine each piano piece as a shadow against the wall". Do you still feel that way about them?

That sounds a bit cheesy to me now.

I haven't yet seen the DVD but it sounds very interesting. What exactly happened at the Berlin Press Conference?

You'll have to see. But it was the first in a long line of extreme performances that continue to this day.

How much did your hands/fingers/back hurt after you broke the world record for longest solo-artist performance? What inspired you to try for the record in the first place?

Some mild wrist pain. My ego inspired me.

You've collaborated with a lot of great musicians/artists. Can you pick a favourite?

I really like working with Phillipe Katerine, he's the best living French poet/entertainer.

Back when you were working with Feist on Let It Die, did you both have any idea that it would turn out so well?

Well, we knew we were making bangers, but you never know if the public will agree.

What do you like best about visiting Toronto?

My whole family is there and I have many friends from my years in T.O.

Are there any places you have to see/eat at/drink at?

The Ethiopian restaurant Addis Ababa.

What can people expect to see/hear/feel at your Toronto show?

A piano talk show. I hope to provide extreme entertainment and some surprise guests that aren't so surprising.

CONTEST: We have some prizes to give away care of Arts&Crafts. The first two people to post their favourite song off Solo Piano to the comments section will win. Good luck!

1st prize: 2 tickets to the Mod Club show and a CD copy of Solo Piano.

2nd prize: A CD copy of Solo Piano and an Arts&Crafts prize pack.

Gonzales - Piano Talk Show
Wednesday, September 30
Mod Club Theatre
722 College Street
Doors: 8pm
Tickets: $20 advance at Rotate This, Ticketmaster

Call & Response is a series of Q&A's with artists from or playing in Toronto. Photo: Arts&Crafts.

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