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Chilly Gonzales

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Chilly Gonzales
Gonzales at a concert with Socalled at Théâtre National in Montreal, 2005
Gonzales at a concert with Socalled at Théâtre National in Montreal, 2005
Background information
Birth nameJason Charles Beck
Also known asGonzales
Born (1972-03-20) 20 March 1972 (age 52)
OriginMontreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Composer
  • pianist
  • entertainer
  • singer
  • rapper
  • producer
  • songwriter
  • actor
  • screenwriter
  • Piano
  • keyboards
  • vocals
LabelsGentle Threat

Jason Charles Beck (born 20 March 1972), professionally known as Chilly Gonzales or just Gonzales, is a Canadian musician, songwriter, and producer. Currently based in Cologne, Germany, he previously lived for several years in Paris and Berlin.[1][2][3] Gonzales’ career spans numerous genres. He is known for his rap albums, his collaborations with singer and musician Feist and rapper Drake, his albums of classical piano compositions (including the Solo Piano trilogy), and for his collaborations with electronic musicians Daft Punk and Boys Noize, the latter of whom he also produces under the moniker Octave Minds. In 2022, he and Plastikman released a piano rework of the latter's 1998 minimal techno classic album Consumed in collaboration with Canadian musician Tiga, titled "Consumed in Key".[4]

Gonzales broadcasts a web series Pop Music Masterclass on WDR, the documentary Classical Connections on BBC Radio 1, The History of Music on Arte, and Music's Cool with Chilly Gonzales on Apple Music's Beats1 radio show. He has written several newspaper and magazine opinion pieces in The Guardian, Vice, Billboard, and others.[5][6][7] He is the younger brother of film composer Christophe Beck.[8] Gonzales won a Grammy award for his work on Daft Punk's 2013 studio album Random Access Memories.[9]


Early life and career[edit]

Jason Charles Beck is the son of Ashkenazi Jews who were forced to flee from Hungary during World War II.[10] He began teaching himself piano at age three, when his older brother Christophe began taking lessons. Beck graduated from Crescent School in Toronto, Canada. He was classically trained as a pianist at McGill University, where he began both his composing career, co-authoring several musicals with his brother, and his performing career, as a jazz pianist.

In the 1990s, he began a pop career as the leader of the alternative rock band Son, with Dominic Salole and Dave Szigeti. Son was signed to a three-album deal with Warner Music Canada in 1995, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Records. Their first release, the Prince/Elvis Costello-flavored LP Thriller, was moderately successful, spawning one single that received heavy radio airplay ("Pick up the Phone") and leading to several opening gigs for the Barenaked Ladies. The album's production values were limited; Warner Bros. simply released the band's hastily recorded demo as a record.

Son's second release, Wolfstein, was recorded at a fully equipped studio in LA with the assistance of his brother Christophe. Nominally a concept album about a man who starts turning into a wolf after hitting one with his car, it features a darker, more complex sensibility than its predecessor.

To Warner Music, the album represented too radical a change in direction, and it lacked any singles deemed acceptable for Canadian radio; the most upbeat tune on the album had the radio-unfriendly title, "Making a Jew Cry". The label gave little promotional support to the release, and dropped the band soon after.

Move to Berlin[edit]

Gonzales at the Mod Club in Toronto 2009.

Finding dealing with the expectations of the Canadian music industry difficult,[11] Gonzales moved to Berlin in 1999, despite speaking no German.[12][13] He declared himself "The President of the Berlin Underground" and adopted the stage name Chilly Gonzales in 1999.[9]

With this change in image came another major change in Gonzales's musical style. His four albums on the German label Kitty-yo (Gonzales Über Alles (1999), The Entertainist (2000), Presidential Suite (2002), and Z (2003)) were recorded as rap records, though his skills as a keyboardist were demonstrated on a series of interspersed instrumental tracks. European critics and audiences were more receptive to the eclectic and experimental nature of Gonzales's output. His first Kitty-yo single, "Let's Groove Again", became a dance floor hit upon its 1999 release. It was used in a 2007 BBC promotional trailer for their new TV programme The Restaurant. Gonzales performed regularly at nightclubs and on the summer pop festival circuit.

Solo Piano, Chambers, and classical music[edit]

In 2004, Gonzales released an album of instrumental material, Solo Piano. Praised by public and critics, it drew comparisons to the work of Erik Satie[citation needed] and so attracted a new global audience to his work. Solo Piano remains Gonzales's best-selling album to date.

He followed it up nine years later with Solo Piano II,[14] long-listed for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize.

In 2015, he released Chambers,[15] a piano and chamber piece recorded with Hamburg's Kaiser Quartett, to generally positive reviews.[16][17]

The trio of Solo Piano albums was completed with the release of Solo Piano III, on 7 September 2018.[18][19]

Collaborations and songwriting[edit]

In the meantime, Gonzales continued to develop as a producer and songwriter for other artists, collaborating on singles and albums with Peaches, singer Jane Birkin and indie rocker Leslie Feist. The output of the latter collaboration – Feist's 2003 album, Let It Die, became a bestseller, won critical acclaim and industry awards. Gonzales returned as a contributor on Feist's 2007 album, The Reminder, which was nominated for four Grammy Awards and won five Juno Awards.[20][21]

Apart from his solo career, Gonzales is also a member of the Berlin-based hip-hop band Puppetmastaz.

Gonzales played keyboards in the song "Give Life Back to Music" and piano on "Within" from Daft Punk's fourth studio album, Random Access Memories, which won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.[9] In June 2013, his studio album Solo Piano II was longlisted for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize.

Gonzales collaborated with Jhené Aiko on the track "From Time" from Drake's third album Nothing Was the Same. They met to discuss a collaboration after Gonzales learned that Drake had used the entirety of Gonzales's song "The Tourist" on the track "Outro" from So Far Gone.[22]

In 2016, Gonzales hosted Music's Cool, a two-hour radio show on the Apple Music radio station Beats 1. In the show, he analysed the musical theory behind various artists, including past collaborators and music icons.

Soft Power and Ivory Tower[edit]

In early 2008, Gonzales signed with Mercury Records, and on 7 April Soft Power was released. While maintaining a typically eclectic mix of styles, Soft Power was recorded as a pop album, with a sound reminiscent of the Bee Gees and Billy Joel. Gonzales chose to sing on the album.[23][24]

Gonzales' album Ivory Tower (produced by Boys Noize) appeared on the !Earshot National Top 50 Chart in 2010.[25] His song "Never Stop", from the album was one of his better known tunes, and the opening piano tune was featured on Apple Inc.'s worldwide advertising campaign for the iPad 2. Apple adapted the tune for electric guitar.

Grammy Award[edit]

In 2014, Chilly Gonzales won an Album of the Year Grammy Award for his work on Daft Punk's Random Access Memories.[26]

Guinness World record[edit]

On 18 May 2009, at the Ciné 13 Théâtre, Paris, he set a world record for the longest solo-artist performance with a total time of 27 hours, 3 minutes and 44 seconds, breaking a record set by Prasanna Gudi.[27] He played over 300 songs during the course of the record attempt.[28]

Room 29[edit]

On 17 March 2017, Gonzales released Room 29, in collaboration with Jarvis Cocker. The album is a song-cycle, and tells of happenings in one room at a Hollywood hotel. Gonzales and Cocker performed the first concert of the album on the day that it was released, in Hamburg, Germany at the Kampnagel concert hall.[29]

The Gonzervatory[edit]

In 2018, Chilly Gonzales launched his own music school. Seven musicians from around the world joined him to study at "The Gonzervatory", an eight-day all-expenses-paid residential music performance workshop in Paris.[30] The workshop included coaching sessions hosted by Gonzales, followed by masterclasses from Gonzales' friends and collaborators including Peaches, Socalled, Fred Wesley and Jarvis Cocker. Evening rehearsals culminated in a finale concert at the Trianon Theater.


  • Let's Groove Again – Single, 1999 (under the name "Gonzales")
  • O.P. Original Prankster – (EP), 1999 (under the name "Gonzales")
  • Gonzales Über AllesKitty-Yo, 2000 (under the name "Gonzales")
  • The Entertainist – Kitty-Yo, 2000
  • Presidential Suite – Kitty-Yo, 2002 (under the name "Gonzales")
  • Z – Kitty-Yo, 2003 (under the name "Gonzales")
  • Daft Punk – "Too Long" from Daft Club (2003)
  • Solo PianoNo Format!, 2004 (under the name "Gonzales")
  • Soft PowerMercury/Universal, 2008 (under the name "Gonzales")
  • Le Guinness World Record 'The Works', 2009
  • Ivory Tower – Gentle Threat, 2010
  • The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales – Gentle Threat, 2011
  • Solo Piano II – Gentle Threat, 2012
  • Daft Punk – "Give Life Back to Music" and "Within" from Random Access Memories – 2013
  • Octave Minds (Chilly Gonzales and Boys Noize) – 2014
  • Chambers – Gentle Threat, 2015
  • Room 29 (Chilly Gonzales and Jarvis Cocker) – 2017
  • Live at Massey Hall – Gentle Threat, 2018
  • Other People's Pieces – Gentle Threat, 2018
  • Solo Piano III – Gentle Threat, 2018
  • A Very Chilly Christmas[31] – 2020
  • Consumed in Key (Plastikman & Chilly Gonzales) – 2022
  • He Thinks That I'm An Angel (Goldie Boutilier & Chilly Gonzales) from Cowboy Gangster Politician EP - 2022
  • Daft Punk - "GLBTM (Studio Outtakes)" from Random Access Memories (10th Anniversary Edition) - 2023
  • French Kiss - Gentle Threat, 2023
  • F*CK WAGNER - Single, 2024

DVD content[edit]

  • From Major to Minor – 2006 – No Format!
  • The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales Live with Orchestra – May 2012 – Gentle Threat


Year Film Role Notes
2010 Ivory Tower[32] Hershell Independent film co-written with Céline Sciamma, and co-starring Peaches, Feist and Tiga


In 2020, Gonzales published a book called Enya: A Treatise on Unguilty Pleasures. Gonzales discussed his childhood appreciation for Enya in a metaphorical context, recognizing the factor of involuntary taste on music choice rather than the factors of outside influences and social judgement.[33][34][35]


  1. ^ "Chilly Gonzales spielt Benefiz-Konzert: „Köln ist hässlich? Ich bin da anderer Meinung"". Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger (in German). 15 August 2023. Retrieved 20 March 2024.
  2. ^ "Chilly Gonzales". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. 14 May 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  3. ^ Michaels, Sean (20 May 2009). "Gonzales sets world record for longest solo concert: The Canadian musician played for 27 hours, three minutes and 44 seconds at a Paris theatre – and sleep-walked his way through 300 songs". The Observer.
  4. ^ "'Consumed In Key' a compelling reinterpretation of Plastikman's 1998 album 'Consumed'". Toronto Star. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  5. ^ "Chilly Gonzalez Explains Why the Classical Music World Should Stop Resisting Rap & Pop Music". Billboard. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  6. ^ Gonzales, Chilly (31 December 2014). "Chilly Gonzales on musical tropes in 2014: when the chord progression died". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  7. ^ "musical genius chilly gonzales explains the history of pop music". I-d. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  8. ^ Thomas Chatterton Williams (February 2020). "In conversation with Chilly Gonzales". Retrieved 16 September 2021.
  9. ^ a b c McCormick, Neil (6 April 2015). "I got a Grammy for a 44-second piano solo". The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  10. ^ "An encounter at the piano with Chilly Gonzales – Montreal – CBC News". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 24 April 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Music : Gonzales". Montreal Mirror. 5 October 2005. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  12. ^ "Peaches and Chili Gonzales: Germans eat up Peaches & Chili". Jam.canoe.ca. 28 September 2000. Archived from the original on 9 July 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  13. ^ "As He Completes His Trilogy, A Deep Dive Into How Chilly Gonzales's 'Solo Piano' Conquered the World". /exclaim!, By Tom Beedham, 7 September 2018
  14. ^ "Chilly Gonzales Solo Piano II" Archived 3 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Drowned in Sound, by Billy Hamilton 23 August 2012
  15. ^ "Chilly Gonzales: Chambers". by Carla Gillis 18 March 2015
  16. ^ " Chilly Gonzales: Chambers". Pitchfork, by Brian Howe, 26 March, 2015Chambers
  17. ^ "Reviews: Chilly Gonzales Chambers". The Quietus, Jeremy Allen, 27 February 2015
  18. ^ "Review: Solo Piano III is Chilly Gonzales at his most traditional, but with hints of his more disarming inner ego". The 405, Lauren Mullineaux, 12 September 2018
  19. ^ "Chilly Gonzales Solo Piano III: Gentle Threat". , Under the Radar, 7 September 2018 Issue No. 64 – By Haydon Spenceley
  20. ^ "Awards | The JUNO Awards". The JUNO Awards. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  21. ^ "Feist". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. 28 November 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  22. ^ Nostro, Lauren. "Interview: Chilly Gonzales Talks Working on "From Time," Drake's Writing Process, and Upcoming Projects". Complex Music. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
  23. ^ "The reluctant entertainer". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 6 May 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  24. ^ "Invalid host name". Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2009.
  25. ^ "The National Top 50 For the Week Ending: Tuesday, October 26, 2010". !Earshot.
  26. ^ "Chilly Gonzales". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. 28 November 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  27. ^ "AFP: Canadian pianist sets world record for concert". 17 May 2009. Archived from the original on 24 April 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  28. ^ "'Shut Up and Play the Piano': Film Review | Berlin 2018". Hollywood Reporter, 18 February 2018 by Stephen Dalton
  29. ^ "Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzales share first two songs from 'Room 29' collaboration – listen – NME". NME. 30 January 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  30. ^ "Chilly Gonzales to run free week-long music performance workshop | Complete Music Update". www.completemusicupdate.com. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  31. ^ Brock Thiessen (5 November 2020). "Chilly Gonzales Is Releasing His Very Own Christmas Album". exclaim.ca. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  32. ^ Levack, Chandler (17 May 2010). Inside Gonzales' Ivory Tower[permanent dead link] Eye Weekly. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  33. ^ "Listen: Enya: A Treatise on Unguilty Pleasures". 11 December 2020. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  34. ^ "What's your 'unguilty' musical pleasure? Chilly Gonzales loves Enya. Here's why". thestar.com. 25 October 2020. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  35. ^ Cagney, Liam. "Enya: A Treatise on Unguilty Pleasures: engaging, entertaining look at a pop phenomenon". The Irish Times. Retrieved 18 March 2021.

External links[edit]