Chilly Gonzales Facebook Unlike that other noted ivory tickler Billy Joel,…
- Posted on Nov 8th 2012 1:00PM by Melody Lau
"The first few years was pretty much Chilly Gonzales 24/7," Gonzales tells Spinner. "I could go from zero to a hundred in seconds; I pretty much lived for that performance."
Gonzales, who now calls Berlin his home on his off-time, used to live by his own motto of being a "pimp and a hoe at the same time," as he rapped on his 2002 song "So-Called Party Over There."
"That line, for a while, was a really good manifesto for me," he explains. "Anyone who gets up onstage kind of has a psychological problem, in a way, if you think about it.
"They need people to clap for them and tell them that they're okay and I like the fact that there's this contradiction and when performers say, 'Yeah, I do it for myself and if people like it then it's a bonus,' I'm kind of like, Yeah right, you can't have it both ways. You're a pimp and a hoe always when you're an entertainer.' You can't be one of the other."
But, having gone through the ringer, the piano-rapper can now safely say that he's pimping more than the latter.
"The ego monster can get satisfied pretty easily these days," he says. "I don't feel the need, for example, to over-perform in this interview like I would've five or six years ago."
Indeed, Gonzales has learned to be less aggro in his artistic pursuits.
Whether it's his own solo career -- of which, he recently released a follow-up to 2004's Solo Piano with Solo Piano II – or lending a helping hand to fellow artists ranging from close friend Leslie Feist or electro-legends Daft Punk, Gonzales is more at ease than ever.
"As time goes on, you don't need quite as much of the attention and the validation," he says.
This isn't to say that the artist has completely eased up on things. The man who occasionally refers to himself as "The Entertainist" is still seriously aware of the art of performing and works every day to make sure he's giving the audience a real show.
"I'm a situational guy and I'm not above pandering to a certain audience in a certain city," Gonzales says. Examples of such situations range from the days where he would fabricate bad reviews to read to audiences between songs to staging full-on piano battles against people like Andrew W.K. "I'm an old-school entertainer that way. I like to be forced to think of new routines from real situations. The minute it clicks, all I want to do is recreate it, tweak it, make it better and make it look spontaneous each time even though it only really happened once for real."
For now, he's focusing on giving the audience a sequel to his 2004 instrumental album Solo Piano.
"Don't you think it was time?" he retorts, when asked why he chose now to return with Solo Piano II. "It was just the perfect storm of the albums that came before and it's not an exact science, in my case, to decide what project to do next -- it's a combination of just how I feel and hunkering down with my team, focus grouping with friends and seeing what feels right.
"I guess the best way to feel the temperature of the Chilly Gonzales project is doing a lot of concerts, meeting people and feeling how they react to the show."