Jean-Michel Blais is a 31 year-old pianist from Montreal, Canada. His enchanting instrumental compositions pair the melodic pop sensibilities of Amélie-era Yann Tiersen and Arts & Crafts alumni Chilly Gonzales with the breathtaking technical skill of classical minimalists like Philip Glass and Erik Satie. Il, his debut album of original compositions is set to be released last spring on Arts & Crafts.
Blais grew up in a rural French Catholic town in Quebec absent of Culture save for a giant Encyclopedia he'd read feverishly as a child. At age 9, Blais began tinkering on his family's organ, improvising, and at age 11 started to write original compositions and taking piano lessons. A natural talent, by 17 he was invited to the Trois-Rivieres Music Conservatory and began training as a classical pianist. However, Blais was entering the throes of teenage rebellion and found the constraints of formal training cumbersome rigid structure. Gravitating towards experimentation, Blais wasn't content to be told how to play, and not to improvise or compose.
A few years later, he attracted the attention of famed playwright and director, Robert Lepage, who introduced Blais to the who's who of Quebec's entertainment industry. With no particular plan for a music career, he quickly took a step back and decided it was time for more explorations.
He moved to Europe in his mid-20s living in Berlin and spent six months in South America. During that time he'd intermittently compose music with long gaps of not even touching a piano. Blais finally settled in Montreal where he rediscovered his love for composing and performing which caught the ear of Arts & Crafts. Written over a two years by improvising every day, Jean-Michel Blais' debut album, Il, is available now.