Hogtown Hometown Heroes – Chilly Gonzales

From the 427 to the River Rouge, Lake Ontario on up to Steeles Ave, we bring you the city’s best, past present and future.

This month we feature a gifted pianist, composer, producer and even rapper called Jason Charles Beck, better known to the music world as Chilly Gonzales.

Beck wasn’t born here in Toronto, nor does he live here, but he is a legit testament to the quality of the Toronto Crescent School alumni, and is connected deeply with the Toronto and Canadian music communities. Besides that we love his music.

Chilly has had a long and diverse career first finding success with a band called Son on Warner Bros. records. The band toured with Barenaked Ladies and released more material on Warner before eventually splitting with the record company.

Beck’s next move was Berlin. He released three albums under the German Kitty Yo label. These albums were rap albums for the most part, and Gonzales was heralded for his electronic keyboard work on the album. He scored a hit called, “Let’s Groove Again”, which was his first single for the German label.

Gonzales, in 2004 took another stunning turn with Solo Piano, which remains his best selling album to date. There is also a sequel to the album. (Solo Piano II)

His solo piano work has been compared to the work of French pianist, Erik Satie. The music is instrumental, and evocative, almost trance-like at times.

Solo Piano II was longlisted for the Polaris Prize, and Chilly Gonzales has contributed to Award winning albums such as Feist’s The Reminder and Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.

On May 18th, 2009, he broke a world record for the longest solo-artist performance with a total time of 27 hours, 3 minutes and 44 seconds, in a theatre in Paris, France.

Gonzales’ most famous song is most probably “Never Stop”, which was featured in the original Apple iPad commercials.

Currently, Chilly Gonzales is working with Berlin based electro producers Boys Noize and American Rapper Domo Genesis.