It’s a steamy, hazy, noisy afternoon in Camden and a…
Chilly Gonzales is perhaps the smartest, most eccentric and dizzyingly talented character in dance music. He’s a Grammy nominated music producer, record breaking pianist and prize winning film maker. His album, Ivory Tower was rapturously received by the critics and features some of the most thought provoking and poetic rapping ever spat into a microphone.
His album The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales is the first ever all orchestral rap album. With flourishes of Prokofiev, Morricone and Phillip Glass, this album is Gonzales’ professional confessional, revealing more of himself than ever before.
What three things make you proud to be Canadian?
Leonard Cohen, the Canadian sense of humour, and attempting an American-European hybrid.
That hook in ‘You Can Dance’- is that a sample, it’s been bugging me for weeks?
No, it’s 15 bearded Canadian indie rockers, and it’s also 2 great singers from my Together Ensemble band, Katie Moore and Matthew Flowers. So, not a sample. An old-fashioned catchy melody with lots of repetition.
When was the last time you embarrassed yourself to the point that you blush inwardly when you think about it?
I’m paid to be embarrassed, I just don’t inwardly blush any more.
If you could own any piece of art in the world, what would it be?
Some sort of super-powered harpsichord designed by Karl Lagerfeld
What’s the strangest night out you’ve ever had with Peaches?
Oh, come on, you’re profiling. Why don’t you ask her the strangest night she’s ever had out with me?
What was the biggest challenge in making the film Ivory Tower?
Keeping my various roles separated – producer, screenwriter and actor.
White guys have a bit more to prove when they rap/MC, do you agree and how do you overcome that?
I rap over orchestra with no beats at all, as on my forthcoming orchestra rap album. I have a slightly more Eurocentric background and I am primarily a pianist not a rapper, so I’ve tried to do my Gonzalified version of rap. And I’m not white, I’m Jewish – I love that joke.
‘Making a Jew Cry’ was seen as a commercially unviable title, were you aware of that?
Kind of a hit in Syria though.
What did you learn about yourself while living in Berlin?
Everything, that’s the laboratory that was struck by lightning in my supervillain origin. That’s where I began being me, but an overcooked version of myself.
How do you feel about file-sharing and the free, wild west of the Internet- has it affected you financially?
It’s all positive. Adapt or die! I’m very diversified between records, writing and producing for others, and live shows. The internet was why Apple found out about my song ‘Never Stop’ and so it’s been a good year at Gonzpiration Inc. Plus I work harder than a lot of other musicians and I work fast.
In the unlikely scenario that you had a share a lift with Sarah Palin, for about 30 floors, what would you say/do to her?
Straight up mental manipulation.
What brought you and Tiga together?
He cold-called me, he said he wanted to work with me based on a photo and interview. He is a plotter, so I’m just flattered I had a role in his masterplan.
Should marijuana be legalised?
Sure why not.
Are there any other world records you’d like to break?
Longest email interview?
“Every act you have ever performed since the day you were born was performed because you wanted something” (Andrew Carnegie) Do you agree?
Sounds about right. And that thing is probably Daddy’s approval. Not in my case, of course.
How do you feel when people refer to you as a genius?
Like a child who was just given a million dollars.
Name three things you love about Paris?
The language, the shiny hair on Parisian women and dope Arab music in taxis.
Stage diving- why do it, and how does it feel?
I was reluctant but it’s quite invigorating. Peaches convinced me to try it. Damn, now you know you profiled us correctly.
Julian Assange….a hero or a villian?
Does celebrity entail a loss of dignity?
Not if you prepare slowly for a gradual ‘erosion’ of dignity over a long period, i.e. get famous at a snail’s pace
Can you love someone if you don’t respect them?
Pass, seriously, maybe you need to change focus in your journalistic career.
Is the desire for posthumous fame irrational?
It’s a chimera for people who haven’t lost their dignity yet. It’s like living in Brooklyn: rationalise all you want, but deep down you would prefer to live in Manhattan/be famous in this lifetime.
First Published: TheHospitalClub.com, May 2011