Though not many people may be familiar with Chilly Gonzalez, there is no doubt you’ve heard his work. He is the Grammy-nominated producer behind Feist’s The Reminder, as well as her most recent album Metals. His tune, “Never Stop,” became ubiquitous with the iPad commercials.
Born Jason Charles Beck, Gonzalez is a musical genius that transitions between melancholic piano virtuoso to playful comic lyricist. This was beautifully displayed on Friday night at the Bell House in Brooklyn. With accompaniment from the string section named Fuck Lucks, Gonzalez was part musical lecturer and hilarious host dressed in a satin robe and slippers. First, there was a discussion about major and minor keys that stemmed from his use of the Flat E minor. He compared the major keys to the right wing and the status quo, while the minor end coincidentally embraced by the minorities. Gonzalez played well known tunes, such as “Happy Birthday” and “Frère Jacques” in minor keys to demonstrate the somber reversal of fortune in a simple change of scale.
From major and minor, Gonzalez shifted gears to the rap genre and how it taught him about ambition. He sang “Beans” as a comic play on the ghetto fabulous lifestyle of excess. Rapping sick lyrics like, “And when the beans talk, I hear the echo / Speaking to me in the voice of Mr. Gordon Gekko.” Gonzalez continued his musical education covering music counts from 4/4 to 6/8, identifying the latter count sequence as “kinda rapey”. Throughout his musical lessons, he had members of the audience join him at his piano, playing side by side.
Given the choice of another long drawn out somber piano piece or a story on how he worked with Drake, the audience chose Drake. Drake had sampled Gonzalez’s work in “Outro” for his So Far Gone Mixtape without giving Chilly his due. Needless to say, Gonzalez wrote a reactionary song, “The Grudge” to cope with the episode, which he never shared with Drake. But as fate would have it, the fellow Canadian had coincidentally bought a condo in the same building as Gonzalez’s father. Drake’s people arranged a meeting for the two and a face to face collaboration was realized when they performed together at the 2011 Juno Awards. No bad blood after all.
The show closed with Gonzalez atop the piano playing tunes with his feet, which somehow is not surprising from such a musical genius. Chilly Gonzalez is releasing Solo Piano II later this year via Arts & Crafts. Let the education continue.