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 s, he embarked on a pop career as the leader of the alternative rock band Son, with Dominic Salole and Dave Szigeti. 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.
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A classically trained pianist from Canada, Gonzales has a reputation as the go-to guy when dance producers and hip-hop stars have harmonic problems to solve.
You can be a natural melodist, and just have a gift for writing top lines. And you have people who have natural rhythm and can dance and play beats and be great DJs — that can all be instinctive.
Harmony is different. It is not a mathematical thrill, you really feel it. And yet to create it, you need cold, hard knowledge. Maybe the difference is that I understand classical and pop. Since , he has released a dozen studio and live albums on various small labels spanning solo piano instrumentals, electronic tracks and satirical rap. His new album, Chambers, attempts to integrate contemporary pop concepts into Romantic-era style chamber music composed for piano and string quartet.
On a cerebral level, Gonzales is effectively addressing an audience of one. Discussion of the Hispanic stage name he adopted in makes Gonzales wince — he made the decision on the spur of the moment while frustrated with a career vacillating between academia and struggling rock bands.
I call it the authenticity epidemic, when there was an idea that you should be an instinctive autodidact whose talent sprang forth fully formed. The lesson I learnt was the lesson every human being has to learn: to be yourself. It was far removed from the last great age of harmonic correctness, Abba, the Bee Gees, Fleetwood Mac, the decadent, bloated rococo phase of pop in the mid-Seventies.
Now a Bee Gees song sounds like an old Hollywood soundtrack, very correct, lovingly recorded, perfectly arranged, not a hair out of place and quite antiquated. This is the music we deserve, clearly.
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