Gregg Gilles (Girl Talk): Hey, where are you guys calling from? Cleveland?
Sun: Hey, I’m [Elliot] from Cleveland. Stop Cleveland hate, man [Stop Cleveland Hate is one of Girl Talk’s albums].
GT: Cleveland’s a good time, it’s fucking weird there, but it’s a good place. I’ve probably had more shows at house parties there than I have anywhere else. It’s a short drive, only about two hours.
Sun: How did you end up performing this kind of music?
GT: It started when I was in high school, when I was in this sort-of nosie, metal type deal, but even then I started getting into taking pop music samples, even sometimes we used those samples in the music. In the early days, it was just that it would be nice to recontextualize pop music, and make weird experimental stuff out of it, and make the weird experimental stuff entertaining because you could recognize the source material. Then it later turned into this idea of making beats and IDM-type music, the flavor of the second record, and then the whole time Girl Talk has been an effort to loosen up the live performance, and cause more dancing, so I think it naturally evolved into what the new record is like.
Sun: You used the word recontextualize. Do you consider your music original?
GT: That is kind of the goal, personally; it’d be nice if everyone say “That’s a Girl Talk song” rather than “That’s a combination of Song A and Song B and Song C.” It’s like in rap music, whenever someone takes a hook or a beat and then raps over it, that’s completely original. No one’s criticizing Kanye West as someone who just takes a beat and raps over it.
Sun: How do you feel about gaining publicity mainly through the blogosphere?
GT: Actually, I think it’s really cool, even then I didn’t understand it until recently, but this album shows how to go from the underground up to a larger scale. I could see how this record has novelty value, so when the publicity people told us they were going to attack it through the blogs, I thought “Well, who the hell cares about that?” But I can see how people pick up on it, then the bloggers, then the music reviewers, and then the magazines. All it takes is a few dudes with computers to get something started.
Sun: Do you feel like your concept is representative of music’s direction these days?
GT: Well, when you listen to the radios it’s not so easy to hear clear-cut genres anymore, so in general, too, I feel like music is just breaking down around now. It’s cliché, but we are living post-modern times and a lot of ideas are being re-used and re-cycled into new things, but I still think it’s interesting to put together all these elements of music and culture into something new, the essence of pop music. Maybe it falls in like that.
Sun: What has the response been from the mainstream rap?
GT: I’ve heard little from the mainstream rap groups, which is disappointing because a lot of the underground guys have approached me about doing beats. But it’s been all over the map. My ideal market for this music is mainstream hip-hop — I would love to do something for 3-6 Mafia — but pop bands like the Teddybears, or other eclectic music, have had me do re-mixes, like towards the Beck side.
Sun: How does a Girl Talk song come together?
GT: I used to have to do a lot of manipulation, but these days I much prefer to keep the sound quality at where it’s at, so what’s been happening is that a song playing in the car, or on the radio, or in the supermarket, will jump out of me because of some isolated instrumentation, or vocal, or beat. Most of the times, however, I don’t listen specifically, but I know I like a song and then I have to go back and analyze it second by second.
Sun: What upcoming new album are you most excited about — Jay-Z, Diddy, or The Game?
GT: Actually, Diddy. I’ve always thought him to be an insane guy, and he has the potential to make something crazy just because he’s so arrogant. I’m pumped.
Be sure to catch Girl Talk tonight at Castaways. The show starts a 9 p.m.