Chilly Gonzales: The return of the prodigal son

The return of the prodigal son

Chilly Gonzales: "I've always thought up something special for Montreal, even if it means failing"
Photo: Alexandre Isard

Soft rockin', Guinness Record holdin', supervillain rappin' piano prodigy Chilly Gonzales is finally back in his hometown

Months after releasing The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales, a daring album combining rap, operetta and metatextual lyrics about his craft, the industry and himself, the maestro is packing up his piano and madness for a series of concerts.

"If it was the first music anyone heard of me, they would be right to say they’re a bit confused!" admits Chilly Gonzales, born Jason Beck in Montreal. "That album was a little more like something personal for my fans who want the story to keep evolving. So I wanted to be a bit more liberal with what was on my mind at the time."

On tour in North America during the month of April, the entertainer will put forward his "piano talk show" format where guests, improvisation and, above all, the unexpected are put under the spotlight. But the question remains: Which Gonzales will be on stage? The pianist? The MC? The supervillain? The organist? "Not the organ player, I can tell you that!" he interjects, referring to an organ performance featured in the 2006 edition of the Pop Montreal festival that met with lukewarm reactions. "It tested really badly! I was humbled by that," he adds chuckling before going on about the upcoming Montreal show. "It will be everything – every bit of Gonzales! As for my supervillain persona, it kind of depends on the audience. I have this theory that you cannot plan a show. You have to go in the same direction that the show goes, even if it’s somewhere aggressive. But it’s not my first choice!"

According to Gonzales, his homecoming performance, which will also feature a string quartet, will be as special for the concertgoers as it will be for him. "I’ve always thought up something special for Montreal, even if it means failing, like with my organ concert. I mean, Montreal is my hometown, it’s where I was born, where I fell in love with music, where I studied music and where I decided I would do it on my own. It’s still a super important place for me, so I wanted to make sure we had a ‘special ingredient’ for people who’ve seen me many, many times!"

Chilly Gonzales
At Théâtre Rialto
April 16

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