Interview with mash up guy Girl Talk:
Samples. Hmm. Tricky one. On the one hand: hip hop and pretty much all dance music wouldn’t really exist without sampling and that would kind of suck for a minute or two there. But, if you go too far down the grab and paste road you just end up becoming DJ Yoda or Junior Senior and no one ever wants that. Those guys dress up in samples like the Emperor’s new clothes, applying them as liberally as possible without realising everyone can see straight through their horribly stuck together musical golems to their tiny, inverted, shrivel-dicked, barren, soulless cores. Those guys are the bad guys. Every once in a while though someone comes along who knits a whole load of little samples together to make a big cloak of amazingness which hides the disjointed nature of the music’s bloody birth. As Akufen did with millions of tiny edits in micro-house so Greg Gillis has done in the realm of sheer unabated, crystalline pop. His Girl Talk project began as a fairly experimental noise outfit utilising stolen bits from other people’s songs to add to the general manipulated effect but three albums, well over three hundred samples and not a single clearance later he has produced the record that displays his perfect pop vision. Except that it’s lots of other people’s visions stuck together.
So, how good are you at talking to girls? Do you make like one of your songs and try on a load of different angles in a row and then just hope for the best?
Greg Gillis: Erm, well, I used to be pretty mediocre. Below average I’d say. Then I quit my job and that meant I could grow my hair, get a beard together and now things seem to be working out a load better.
What kind of job did you have where you had to have short hair and be clean shaven? Was it a boot camp?
No no. I am actually a trained biochemical engineer and I was working in a lab carrying out theoretical sleep research. It was pretty interesting actually. Basically, no one knows why the cradling or rocking motion causes the body to fall asleep. So we did loads and loads of tests on people. It was pretty Blade Runner in there at times. That was a nine to five, five days a week job though and in the US you get ten days off a year max, so I was basically working, then disappearing every weekend to play in different cities. I took my whole years holiday off in like the first two months I was there.
Did the people you worked with know that you were going off on the weekends to get butt-naked onstage in front of strangers and press buttons that make Nirvana go accapella over the Boredoms?
Nah, it was a Superman vibe. There with the short hair in the week and then just some lies and evasion and off I go on the weekends.
You have never cleared a sample and record for a label called Illegal Art but on this album you swiped the most famously sued song to sample another song ever: The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’. Were you not scared that The Verve would find out and take out all the pain and anguish from the loss of millions of pounds at the hands of wrinkly Mick and walking skeleton guy Keith on poor little old you in Pittsburgh?
Nah. We have something called Fair Use over here. Shame you guys don’t.
Girl Talk have album called “Night Ripper” out on Illegal Art in February.