Chilly Gonzales is taking over CBC Music homepage all day. Look out for a masterclass video, exclusive playlists, a Feist/Gonzo tête-à-tête, new music and more, all at CBCMusic.ca/chilly.
You don't get to work with the wide range of artists that pianist Chilly Gonzales has worked with — Drake, Feist, Daft Punk, Buck 65, to name a few — without having an eclectic taste in music. Gonzo, as he's known, certainly has eclectic taste, coming off like a pop-music historian with his impressive knowledge of everything from classical to pop to rap.
We asked Gonzo to compile a list of his favourite songs, as a way to give readers better insight into his musical mind. What he came back with was, well, much more than we were expecting. Click on the YouTube player below and enjoy 78 songs, handpicked by Gonzo, that bridge the gap between high and low and make us question what it really means to be a music snob. Here's what he had to say about his selection:
"I think snobbery is a good thing. When I hear music badly played, I will dismiss it. I think what people are referring to isn’t actually snobbery, it’s fear. It’s that people who go to the ballet and the symphony and the art gallery are often actually scared they’re not going to understand pop culture. Likewise, people who are into pop culture and have a more disposable attitude to music have a fear that were they ever to delve into more substantial forms, they wouldn’t understand it. In a way, I’m there to assuage their fear.
"Barriers are there for a reason: stylistic barriers are great. I think it’s great that dance music is based on 'boom boom boom boom' 4/4 drum beat. I think it’s that great hip-hop is based on certain codes in the lyrics. I’m not trying to erase the borders, I’m trying to get people over their fear.
"When people go to see classical concerts these days, often the artist is scared the audience will reject them and doesn’t make an effort, so the audience feels left out sitting in a cold symphony hall thinking 'Wow, I paid 80 bucks for this. I guess this is high culture.'
"Everybody’s scared, nobody’s enjoying themselves, it’s a disaster. I take full responsibility for making an audience relax, trying to get rid of that fear and take them somewhere. That’s my responsibility."
Chilly Gonzales is touring in support of his latest album, Chambers, across Europe and Canada. He plays Toronto's Massey Hall Feb. 5, 2016, and Montreal's Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier Feb. 8. For tickets.
Follow Jesse Kinos-Goodin on Twitter: @JesseKG