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Girl Talk - conducted by Alex Goldberg  

Girl Talk Interview

July 2006

These are the transcripts from an interview conducted with DJ and Pittsburgh native, Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk. Although he explains that he is not in fact a DJ, Girl Talk knows how to get that booty to shake right thurr, plus, he also makes you think. After six years of making music, with three albums to show for it, Gregg Gillis has taken control of the Pittsburgh music scene with his dirty, bouncy, and seductively truthful/possibly illegal sampling and sound presentation. Ooh baby, I like it rawÖ.and by raw, I mean Girl Talk.

MVRemix: So Iíve heard through the grapevine that youíve taken over the Pittsburgh music scene. I hear you rule and everyone is beneath you.

Girl Talk: [Laughs] I donít know if itís quite that big. Iíve been doing the same thing for awhile now, but it seems like itís spreading all over the place. I played a couple shows and itís basically the same there, like a small cult following.

MVRemix: Did you read your Pitchfork review?

Girl Talk: Yeah, I did actually. Everything kind of exploded after that. Iíve been doing this for over six years, different forms with different types of pop music and making new pop music. Once that hit, we got a new audience and I was all of a sudden that newly hyped artist.

MVRemix: Ok, hereís a three part question. (1) What is a DJ? (2) Why donít you consider yourself a DJ? (3) How do you keep it real?

Girl Talk: [Laughs due to point 3] I would have to say that a DJ is someone who mixes music and puts other peopleís songs together in various formats from radio to clubs and Iíd say you can consider me a DJ and thatís fine, but I donít consider myself a DJ. I consider Iím making my original recontextualized songs out of other peopleís samples, even though it retains familiar elements. And I can say that I keep it real because I put a Hall and Oates song on all of my records.

MVRemix: So you sample from other peopleís samples?

Girl Talk: No, well, at times I sample songs that sample other peopleís stuff but not exclusively. However people want to classify my DJ work is cool with me. I mean there are always latent and familiar elements in my song, and every song makes a beat and then the voice is on top of the beat, and I combine enough different elements that people can be like, oh thatís a Girl Talk song, and not that itís just a mix of A and B.

MVRemix: Right. Ok, finish this sentence. Pop music is a lot like Jesus because they both________.

Girl Talk: Rule the world.

MVRemix: I want you to walk me through an average day of Gregg Gillis/Girl Talk but I want you to mix and match reality with fiction in such a casual way that I donít really know what the real day is versus the fantasy day. Kind of like a rap video.

Girl Talk: Iíll have to take it for a typical Friday then. I wake up and I put on some casual business gear and then go to a 9 to 5 and sit in an office cubicle all day long, check on my Myspace account. Get out around 5, go home and make some music for an hour or so, and then meet up with my girlfriend. We would probably then get on some motorcycles and ride to the club and hang out at the club in the VIP box and probably hang out with some Steelers. After the club we would all go to Heinz field and slam down some beers.

MVRemix: Damn alright [I am legitimately impressed]. Alright, letís get serious. Your label is called Illegal Art and you use numerous samples from a billion different sources. On Pitchfork, they wrote, ďDue to its overwhelming number of unlicensed sources, Night Ripper is practically begging for court drama.Ē If you were put on the stand, what would your defense sound like?

Girl Talk: Well, we would be going with the Fair Use law where you can use unlicensed material under certain circumstances. There are four crucial points, I havenít gotten them memorized but basically itís, are you effecting actual or perpetual sales of original source material, and clearly weíre doing this on a far more underground level, where obviously no one is going to pick up my record instead of anyone that I sampled. And if anything, the music in no way is debasing it, weíre promoting the artist as a celebration of all the music Iíve sampled on the albums. And weíre not hurting anyone with the music, weíre not hurting sales. And I donít know if it would hold up, court wise, but should it hold up, absolutely. I just make music that people can really enjoy, and Iím not stealing anything by re-contextualizing pop music.

MVRemix: What do you think the best decade of pop music in the last 100 years was?

Girl Talk: I would have to go with right now. But for my personal favorite I would have to go with the 90ís, a lot because of nostalgic reasons. Iím a 90ís child. It was probably my favorite era for hip hop, with Dr. Dre and Biggie [Smalls], plus, there was that alternative music like Nirvana and Sonic Youth. And I really like the indie rock of that era.

MVRemix: Has Pittsburgh helped you develop?

Girl Talk: I think itís cool just because if I was in an environment like New York or L.A. I would be way more stressed out. Maybe other people are doing what Iím doing, but for the most part in Pittsburgh, you can do what you want with music without worrying about trampling on other peopleís turf or doing anything similar with someone else, you know, worrying that youíre not the first person to do this thing ever.

MVRemix: I hear youíre bigger than Modey Lemon now.

Girl Talk: [Laughs] I donít think thatís true, I actually go back to high school days with them, theyíre pretty good friends. I think they still rule Pittsburgh, technically.

MVRemix: Letís talk about Night Ripper. On average, how many samples per track do you use, and do you ever reach a point where youíve put so many samples onto one track into one track that you just sit back and think, ďoh man, there are so many songs on this one track, I just canít take itĒ?

Girl Talk: [Laughs] Average samples per song is really difficult to estimate because of different song lengths and such, because the thing is, there is a difference between blatant samples used and what I would consider more original samples that are taking a kick drum from source A and a snare from source B. So there are so many samples that are completely unrecognizable on the album as well. Typically, on an average minute, I would say there are maybe 5 to 15 songs on average. And I personally donít feel overwhelmed making an album because there is walking a fine line between making something that is a really intense mix just from a constructive level, putting it together as an impressive piece of work on an editing and artistic level and making something that you can just listen to and wild-out to with friends.

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"We would probably then get on some motorcycles and ride to the club and hang out at the club in the VIP box and probably hang out with some Steelers."