Gonzales (also known as Chilly Gonzales) is an MC-meets-keyboarding-producer-meets-singer-extraordinaire. At a young age, Gonzales was introduced to the piano by his parents and overachieving brother. Using the instrument as an avenue of self-expression, he quickly advanced into the production realm. Through his Hollywood-based older brother, Gonzales wrote music for soundtracks under various aliases.
Though born in Canada, the artist took up residence in Europe, mainly in Germany or France, just after signing to Kitty-Yo. Known for his often comical live shows complete with MC'ing, Gonzales branched off to singing with Kitty-Yo labelmate Peaches in 2000 for the single "Red Leather." His debut full-length, 2000's Gonzales Uber Alles, was followed later that year by The Entertainist. Touring and collaborating with Peaches brought both artists more renown, with the press nicknaming the duo the Bonnie and Clyde of Prankster Rap.
Gonzales stepped back into the studio and recorded 2002's Presidential Suite, but moved from Berlin to Paris during 2003 and inaugurated a co-production relationship with Renaud Letang (Manu Chao). He was also instrumental in the production of Feist's award-winning Let It Die, having toured with her and recorded songs from an early demo stage. Gonzales and Letang also recorded with French pop royalty, including Jane Birkin (her 2004 duets album Rendez-Vous) and Charles Aznavour (sessions eventually canceled by Aznavour), as well as Christophe Willem.
When Gonzales returned to his own career in 2005, he issued what was easily the most distinctive record of his career, Solo Piano, which found him performing 16 themes (for left-hand accompaniment and right-hand melody) and asserting the influence of French impressionists Erik Satie and Maurice Ravel. In 2008, he released an album on Mercury titled Soft Power, an album of assured, piano-led pop that channeled the production gloss of '70s and '80s pop/rock.
Two years later, after piano battles with Andrew W.K. and a stint with the German rap group Puppetmastaz, and setting a Guinness world record for the longest solo piano performance in history (27 hours), he recorded Ivory Tower, the soundtrack to a film he co-wrote with Céline Sciamma, directed by Puppetmastaz's Adam Traynor. The film included appearances by Gonzales, Peaches, Feist, and Tiga (the latter of whom played Gonzales' brother in the film). Gonzales has also popped up on several albums by Jamie Lidell. A second volume of solo piano, appropriately titled Solo Piano II, followed in 2012. More piano material arrived in 2014, in the form of Re-Introduction Etudes, an album and book of basic piano instruction designed for novice players who had given piano up and were looking to return to the instrument. The following year brought Chambers, a work featuring the Kaiser Quartet, but 2017 brought Gonzales into the mainstream for the first time in a decade when he collaborated with former Pulp leader Jarvis Cocker on Room 29, an album about Hollywood's Chateau Marmont. ~ Diana Potts