Charles Aznavour, Daft Punk, but also Richard Clayderman: for his first album in French, the elusive Chilly Gonzales cites in his songs pillars of his pantheon, all of whom rub shoulders.
It's hard to imagine, but the Canadian, who appeared in the early 2000s with his hip-hop/electro DIY, was in demand as an arranger for Charles Aznavour. Story that inspires Gangstavour, piece from French kiss, album which comes out this Friday. “Aznavour was pushed to make an album with another team, he said to himself “why not? I like it when my record company spends money on me” (laughs), but he was skeptical,” Chilly Gonzales, who divides his time between Cologne (Germany) and an apartment on the island, told AFP. Saint-Louis to Paris.
And to describe an “atmosphere of balance of power”, with this megastar of French song with the attitude of a “rapper”. Example: arriving early on the first day and upset at waiting at the studio door for the arrival of Chilly Gonzales, the interpreter of La bohème arranges to meet the next day at 10 a.m. And will obviously arrive at 11 a.m. and say to everyone: “So, was the 10 a.m. meeting good?”
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“Somehow it’s great,” comments Chilly Gonzales today, who speaks of “touching” memories. Even if he and his band “were fired after three weeks: one day, Mr. Aznavour did not come back and remade the album from the first note with another team.” Other monuments of French culture are cited in French kiss. We thus hear: “I am too proud to speak the language of Voltaire/Flaubert, Baudelaire and Bangalter”. Thomas Bangalter is half of Daft Punk. “Gonzo”, one of Chilly Gonzales' nicknames, had worked on Random access memories, an album by the helmeted duo, now separated.
“I just met them again, they made a series of videos for the 10th anniversary of Random, I told them “but you are very active now that it’s over””, laughs the singer. It's one of his many prestigious collaborations, in a career split between association with superstar rapper Drake and solo recitals at the piano in a dressing gown and slippers.
At Bangalter - whom he knows better than Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, another mastermind of Daft Punk - he welcomes the approach for Mythologies, a piece for symphony orchestra written for the choreographer Angelin Preljocaj. “Thomas could have hired an orchestrator and focused only on the main lines, but he dove into Berlioz's treatises on instrumentation, to find what I call the beginner's brain.”
“Gonzo” pays homage in French kiss to the pianist Erik Satie but also dedicates a song to Richard Clayderman, Richard and me, by giving him the keyboard on this title. “Richard, I've known him since 2005, he's a bit like my musical dad, he proved to me that being a pianist you can dream of being a star and not just a piano teacher: friends my age had his poster , teenagers. He got a lot of people to listen to the piano, I don’t understand why he’s so snubbed.” The preceding track is called Piano in Paris and we hear the voice of Juliette Armanet, another great sample of a pop album and surprise cover.