Jean-Michel Blais is a post-classical pianist and composer living in Montreal, Canada.
Blais grew up in a rural French Catholic town in Quebec and began tinkering on his family's organ at age 9. By 11, he began writing 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. The constraints of formal training began to wear on Blais, who started to gravitate towards experimentation and improvisation. He eventually left the school and put aside his musical path.
In his mid-20s, Blais travelled to Europe and Latin America. He studied special education, liberal arts and psychology, moving from Berlin to Buenos Aires and then Montreal. There, he rediscovered his love for composing and performing and this caught the ear of Toronto-based indie label, Arts & Crafts.
Blais’ debut album, Il, was written and recorded in his apartment over two years of daily improvisations. It was released on 8 April 2016 and has amassed over 50 million streams worldwide. It reached No.1 on Billboard’s Classical Chart in Canada 14 times, earned a Polaris Music Prize long list nomination and a spot on TIME Magazine’s Top Ten Albums of 2016.