Girl Talk's pop-music collages imagine a world where Salt-N-Pepa, Cat Stevens and Radiohead co-exist.
Mash-up artist Girl Talk may have more than 300 samples on his new album, Feed the Animals, but creator Greg Gillis says that he has only 100 MP3s on his laptop. He's more interested in the bits and pieces of music, even when they span only a split second.
In high school, punk rock didn't push the boundaries enough for him, so Gillis began to purposely skip CDs and create sound collages. Inspired by experimental plunderphonics pioneers such as John Oswald and Negativland, Gillis began Girl Talk in an effort to put pop music into a new context. In a single track, Gillis will sample everyone from Mims and Diana Ross to The Carpenters and Metallica, all on top of each other.
Gillis says that these pairings are largely the product of trial and error. Since quitting his day job as a biomedical research engineer, he spends every day organizing and cataloging hundreds of samples in ways that make sense to him. In the end, Gillis says, he just wants to make a record that ties it all together in a fun way.
Gillis never pays for the use of his samples, and he doesn't ask permission. He says he's covered by fair-use laws, but he's risking legal trouble with the labels and bands that he samples. Feed the Animals is available for download on a pay-as-you-please basis at Illegal Art, with an actual CD available on Oct. 21. This week, he kicked off his North American tour.