February 19, 2010
Chilly Gonzales is one of the most creative and entertaining acts to migrate to New York in quite some time. Earlier this week, Contributor Chris O'Connell sat down with him to talk about his upcoming NYC "futuristic cabaret" performances.
“I finally lifted myself out of the crust of the quiche,” says Chilly Gonzales, the Canadian-born, London-dwelling pianist of his upcoming stateside shows. “Bringing my little song-and-dance operation to NYC brings me back into that position of the underdog that I think I need.”
A former jazz music prodigy, Gonzales severely understates his “little song-and-dance operation,” one that will include many notable guests and a few surprises. Gonzales is performing in four “Piano Talk Shows” to celebrate two diametrically opposed releases—a piano remake of Erol Alkan and Boys Noize’s “Waves” on a little slab of 7” vinyl and a digital release of a quadruple(!) live record titled “The Works.” The latter, which takes up four CDs when burned, documents Gonzales’s Guinness World Record setting 27-hour-plus live solo piano performance.
The performances, described as “futuristic cabaret” (I don’t know what that means, but will assume steampunk is involved somehow), will occur on consecutive Thursdays at Joe’s Pub, beginning February 4th and will include one special guest each night. The second Piano Talk show will feature America’s favorite party rocker Andrew WK, against whom Gonzales already faced off in a piano duel over a year ago. Gonzales is primed for another go with Mr. WK. “On Feb. 11th, there will indeed be a rematch, and the referee might be more vigilant [than the last one],” says Gonzales, during a recent conversation. “Andrew might also adopt the strategy of a berserker. I will have to adapt or die!”
And die he might; the last time these two squared off, Gonzales eked out a win but was accused of cheating by some in attendance for using a gold chain in what he refers to as “an unorthodox manner.” Whatever that means, Gonzales will be pushing the envelope even more at the Piano Talk Shows this month. DJ A-Trak and a surprise guest will accompany Gonzales on February 18th and New York native Princess Superstar on February 25. On the exterior, his guests may seem random and independent of each other due to their musical differences, but Gonzales sees them another way.
“[They were selected] by a perceived similarity,” remarks Gonzales. “I would like to think that each of these guests believes in ‘entertainment’ as opposed to ‘authenticity.’”
Gonzales appears to cherish the spectacle of these diverse musicians over their natural abilities. This isn’t to say that he thinks they are untalented, however. “Talent is one thing, there are talented musicians everywhere,” Gonzales affirms. “But I can tell almost instantaneously whether a musician is on the “entertainment” team or not.”
As if the plethora of guests on his entertainment team and the surprises that accompany them weren’t enough, there will also be a video installation to amplify the shows. The aptly titled PianoVision will project an image of Gonzales’s piano while the virtuoso plays. Other than that, Gonzales has remained silent on the surprises.
“That one’s not only a surprise, but a mystery,” says Gonzales. It will certainly be one of many.