Tracking him from Japan, Berlin, and to Canada. I finally got to have a quick phone interview with the hard working talent now under the name Chilly Gonzales. He is not just an incredible producer, and piano playing entertainer that ranked second popular “twitter trend” on the day he broke the Guinness world record for longest piano concert. No, he is more. He is a humorus hip cat that focused his attention on the minutiae of his musical and writing craft to develop his own approach to making a film. Watch the trailer for a glimpse at Gonzales’ version of a sports parody.
“We were doing some Robert Di Nero shet!” – Chilly Gonzales
During our conversation I got to listen to Chilly Gonzales speak on his new music inspiring the film, thoughts of purists, hiring his friends, and how his unprofessional-ism is like a beautiful woman with a yellow stain on her front tooth. All the details are in the interview so read on.
So, I heard your “Never Stop” track featured in the new Ipad commercial. Congrats. What do you think about it?
Thanks, I appreciate the support. Well you heard the song. It’s one of the most chess like pieces of music on the album. It’s really built up over a long period of time and it almost seems like nothings happening and then you get this overwhelming feeling at the end. It’s not the most likely candidate to make it into a commercial and become like a huge hit song. So, I just think it works really well with the ad. I’m happy and feel lucky.
Now onto the Ivory Tower film and your new Boys Noize produced album. How is it that you balanced both your film and the soundtrack at the same time? Was it your plan all along, or is it something that just developed?
The new album is the soundtrack. And the album was close to being done, and Boys Noize was there to really kind of cover all the frame. He really brought it! Alex(Boys Noize) managed to juggle all the chords and orchestrate his way around the music to give it that feel of electronic modern credibility. So, in a way all I needed to worry about in this case was the painting. And that freed me up! You know, I usually feel like I’ve been through the ringer by the time I‘m finishing an album. And instead I had all this energy. And I started to think that maybe this album should actually be in the service of something bigger… a higher calling. The higher calling turned up being the movie because I had a type of Hollywood approach to the music all along. “I love being an illusionist.” I like being a liar. I try to be a good liar. The problem is in music its not always such a welcome attitude the people want more than just a liar. They want also a kind of authentic, black and white, truth teller. Whereas in the movies its all about being a good liar. So, it was nice to finally make a transition into a realm where none of that is an issue. I suddenly felt like “Wow, everyone here thinks like me!” They are really result oriented, pragmatic, crazy workaholics, dreamers, and its great! It’s like a military operation… much more my taste.
I like how you put it as a “military operation.
Oh, cause its a lot of people, a lot of money, a lot of energy and the thing is that you can prepare all you want, but you have to adapt. Your plan A never works when your making a movie. And, I like to be in the land of compromise and progmatic solutions. That’s really where I excel. I NEED to be the underdog and I need to think my way out of adversity. That’s why I do things like break records and piano battles as well.
So what’s behind the title “Ivory Tower?” Did it stem from where your mentality was. I mean, was it more personal for you at the time or did it stem from the “Lie” you were trying to depict from the movie?
Well,… I think what its referring to is a place I don’t want to be in. What I mean to say is the movie is about the dangers of the Ivory tower. And the album is about that aswell. Because,..you know… I always pertest that I’m an entertainer and not an artist. And there is a reason for that because I think real artists who live in the ivory tower I can respect them. But, those are the people who don’t make records and get on stage. They are real artists, real purists, those guys are like religious monks, and literally don’t care what people think of them. So that’s why they actually don’t do any of that public stuff. And then you have people like me. People that are entertainers and I don’t really talk about being an artist because I feel like so many people have claimed to be artists that they kind of ruined it for me. They have made the word like an “update” word. You know, all those people in between saying, “I don‘t really do this for anybody else I do it for myself, but if people like it its a bonus.” They do concerts, and interviews but they kind of pretend like they actually don’t want success. And, that to me is disrespectful. It disrespects real artists like the Ivory tower dudes, and hard working entertainers like me. And if your trying to have it both ways then you’ll be mediocre. You’ll be in the middle. A middler. That’s why in the movie, I’m playing a character that’s in the Ivory tower. Cause in a way I’m trying to show sympathy for the purist.
Were you a purist?
Could have been. I understand the seductive nature of the Ivory Tower. But, I fundamentally believe that its about the true music against the people. The people who listen and who watch let you know if your stuff is communicating or not. And in the Ivory tower your missing that connection, the interaction with the people. “It’s the difference between masturbation and making love.”
Chess is a different setting for a movie to be centered on. What were you focused on interpreting?
The movie reflects the role of family. It’s about eccentric characters with eccentric views on life and how that all plays out all together. Chess is a brain sport, and it’s just like making music in a sense. I found the strategy and game play interesting. It was more the narcissistic idea stemmed in Chess that I really ran with though. Like my brother character in the movie played by Tiga. Tiga plays a narcissistic type of character, and is seen like a rock-star of chess. He’s like the Owen Wilson “type” of character in the movie that things tend to go easy to him… a real “master of the universe” kind of character.
The cast in the movie is like a concert lineup I’d like to see all together. I mean Tiga, Peaches, Feist…ect. Was it intentional to have them play certain roles.
For sure! I’ve known most of these people for 15 years. It’s like a musical family. A collective of talent. So, it just came natural to me to have them be a part of it.
So, it made the filming easier?
Yes! I’ve known them, and I know what they have gone through in regards to personal stuff and life experiences. Certain scenes and situations in the movie were written for them specifically. I knew it would be easy for me to get them to go there mentally and perform. We didn’t have enough time or money. I relied heavily on “Method” acting. We were doing some Robert Di Nero shet.
Nice! What do you want people to take away from it or from you?
Everything I do has a glimpse of unprofessionalism. I think it gives it a tragic flaw. It’s my “unprofessional-ism” that I guess helped me in my underground image. It’s like that beautiful women with a yellow stain on her front tooth. The woman is still beautiful and with a minor imperfection that makes her more valuable and unique.
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Chilly Gonzales will be performing for only one night his infamous ”Piano talk” show here in Los Angeles this Sunday Sept.19, 2010 at Largo with special surprise guests! Call for tickets.
Download | Chilly Gonzales: NEVER STOP RAP – A CAPELLA (right-click)
For more information on the film, music, and new projects go to www.Chillygonzales.com