Aoife McElwain chatted to musical genius and entertainer (his words) earlier this week ahead of his Dublin solo piano talk show in The Sugar Club this Saturday (Tickets are €19.85 plus fees). Canadian-born Chilly has just released his career best album Ivory Tower which has a companion film of the same name currently showcasing in major cities. You may recognise his ‘Never Stop’ song in the latest Apple ad and noticed his crazy rapping on single ‘I Am Europe’ which slams together mutually exclusive ideals – sample line: ” I’m socialist lingerie, I’m diplomatic techno / I’m gay pastry and racist cappuccino”. Chilly now based in Paris, talked to Aoife about his collaborators including Feist and Tiga, going independent, the film, his epic piano battle with Andrew W.K. and why’s he’s a loudmouth entertainer and not an artist. But first, we need to know.. what exactly is a racist cappucino..
How exactly, would you define a racist cappuccino and if it was the only thing available to you in the morning, would you still drink it?
Well, a racist cappuccino is not necessarily a complaint. I say “I Am Europe” because I really feel like I have a lot of those qualities I’m describing, both bad and good. Europe is fascinated by places like Europe and America. America is like the new world and Africa is the old world. Everybody is fascinated by other races and other cultures. In Europe, they are really trying hard to keep their old values and they realise it’s not the same place it was a 100 years ago. It’s actually a better place. I moved to Europe in ’98. I went to Germany. My parents had to leave Europe because of the Germans in the ’30s. So I think I’m a product of the European experiment working. The fact that I could go back to Berlin in ’98 that fast and use the fact of being a Jewish American rapper in Berlin to my advantage in a media sense. It’s a beautiful thing. I’m a strange product of America and Europe. I have a European skillset and an American attitude. Old school aristocratic skills: arranging music and the technique of music but I have a totally capitalistic attitude compared to most Europeans which allows me to write songs like “I Am Europe” but also get away with it. So that’s what a racist cappuccino is.