Gregg Gillis answers the question everybody (me) has been dying to ask


So I got to do a Bonnaroo Press conference with Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk a few months ago.  I asked him the question I have been dying to know the answer to for quite a while:  Whether it was just my inherent tendency to overanalyze all music, looking for meaning deep within something that has none, or if the music of Girl Talk does indeed contain a great deal of social commentary.  Here’s how it went down:

Drew Litowitz:  Hey Gregg.  I have always been curious.  A lot of people say that there is a lot of social commentary, very subtle social commentary in your mashups.

Gregg Gillis:  Yes.

Drew Litowitz:  I was wondering how you feel about that and whether or not – if you feel that that is true how it translates in a live setting.

Gregg Gillis:  You know I definitely think there is a level of commentary in the music.  It is something I don’t want to push on people I think first and foremost.  You know I like to just make you know music that is interesting.  You can wrap your head around, sit down and just listen to it as an album like any other album.

But there is definitely – I think on the album for me you know I think I am kind of pushing my general philosophy on music and art and life in general and just that you know there is a lot of moments on the album where it might be very explicit ((inaudible)) or next to very sincere heartfelt 70s soft rock ballads, or you know potentially like you know an aggressive guitar riff next to soft singing or you know something like that.

But I liked it.  You know I think when doing this style of music, and to make it transform, it is nice to take elements that are from different worlds and kind of combining them together to make something new.  So I feel like the commentary in all of that would be that for me, I feel like all music has value.  And I feel like what we understand you know the critically acclaimed album of this era, or the album that everyone is bashing in this era.

It is just – it is – a lot of times it is a mob mentality.  And I don’t think just everyone thinks one particular – just because all the magazines and press people think one particular album is important for right now.  I don’t think that is necessarily has to be important for you as an individual you know.  So I think with all the music, I try to break it down and say this is – everything I sample is primarily within the top 40 spectrum.

You know radio music, major label release music.  It’s all entertainment.  And some things are viewed as artistically valid and artistically important.  Other things are viewed as trash or pop or throwaway.  And to me, it is like all of those songs impact different people.  And all of them are important to different people.  And all of them make people happy or sad or whatever.  And it is all – you know it is all in the eye of the beholder, and it is just you know.

So I try to kind of break all the songs down and say you know Sonic Youth is no more artistically relevant than Paul McCartney who is no more artistically relevant than this person, or there is that person or you know people with different impacts in the history of music.  But for right now it is all pop music.  And they all are songs.

So yes I think that is kind of the level of commentary in the music to just to kind of open up your ears and not kind of get caught in that mob mentality of you know liking what everyone is telling you to like, and it is OK to embrace all these different forms of music.  And everything is valid and everything is important to somebody.

And I think for the second part of your question you know I think a lot of the commentary stuff absolutely gets lost in the context of the show, which is fine.  I have used this show and the albums as two different experiences.  And I feel like I play them differently.  And the last (setting) I can’t really edit and cue samples to the level of detail that I can on the album you know.  I think in the last setting it is very live.  And sitting down to edit an album, maybe one minute of the album will take me you know eight hours to edit together, whereas I could do a live take of it in Real Time in one minute.

So I feel like a lot of the stuff you know it is not about that.  I feel like the last show is a bit more functional you know.  It has a functional role as the celebratory sort of environment.  You know something you might dance to or get on stage or you know get ((inaudible)), too.

So I feel like the difference in the album where I feel like you can celebrate to it and party to it.  But it is something where I want it to also be a hedge for an album where you can sit down and kind of on a Sunday afternoon and just take it all in.

Drew Litowitz:  All right great.  Thanks a lot.

So yeah.  I’m not a complete moron, from the man himself.  But, really, Gregg is the one making the music so I give him all the credit.  Thanks for giving me an amazing answer, see you at the ‘Roo.


About Drew Litowitz

Sound advice.
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