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Jean-Michel Blais is a 33-year-old pianist from Montreal, Canada. His enchanting instrumental compositions pair the melodic pop sensibilities of Amélie-era Yann Tiersen and Chilly Gonzales with the breathtaking technical skill of classical minimalists such as Philip Glass and Erik Satie. His debut album of original compositions, il, was released in April 2016 by Arts & Crafts. The album received a fair amount of critical acclaim and was one of TIME Magazine's Top 10 Albums of 2016.
Blais grew up in a rural French Catholic town in Quebec. He began tinkering on his family's organ at age 9; at age 11, he started taking piano lessons and writing original compositions. By 17, he was invited to the Trois-Rivières Music Conservatory, where he began training as a classical pianist. However, Blais was entering the throes of teenage rebellion and found the constraints of formal training cumbersome. Gravitating toward experimentation, he wasn't content to be told how to play, improvise, or compose.
See the music video for "il":