A musician who performs under the name Girl Talk, named Gregg Gillis, creates a unique style of music using a laptop computer to chop and re-mainstream pop songs. His work, which is heavily influenced by mathematics, manages a couple of different genres of music, mixing Madonna and Black Sabbath. His work is also the question of copyright and fair use with regard to digital music.
Gillis, who performs under the name Girl Talk, has, since 2002, released five albums of music that seamlessly mash up of songs from an astounding array of artists, past and present. the latest, all day, was released in November 2010 and it alone has samples of 372 songs.
The following is the edited version of the interview with Mr. Gillis.
Nick Bilton: How did you start making music with computers?
Gregg Gillis: I actually went to school for biomedical engineering. While I was in college I played around with music on the page, mostly just for fun. When I graduated I kept making music, playing small shows and art galleries, and after two to three years things just took off with the style I created.
So, are you living two lives, a biomedical engineer by day and DJ by night?
Yes. At the time of my music took off two years of my engineering job. So for a year I had to live a double life. I would tell my co-workers I was going to go to the cinema over the weekend, but from Friday evening to Monday morning I was flying around the country performing in clubs.
In those early days, when he appeared at the club with a laptop, you are not serious?
Some people are open, but the lineup of bands perform and you’re the only person with a laptop, you’re definitely a sore thumb group. It is also a type of music I was mixing. This is definitely a riotous mix of laptop and pop music.
So these D.J. or a musician, or even a computer musician?
I actually think about what I do more as well as the creation of electronic music, and not as a DJ, because everything is created on my computer, it’s also very mathematical.
Where did the name Girl Talk coming from?
When I first got started years before other people who were performing using the laptop had a weird band names like “TR_x5”, and I do not want a strange name for a computer so I came up with Girl Talk. It sounded to me like a girl Disney musical group is full of teenagers, not a man playing on a laptop.
You have a very unique and technical style. How to develop?
It’s definitely evolved over the years. Eventually, I become more comfortable just making mashup styles of music. Some of my early influences were Squarepusher and Aphex Twin.
How do you create your music using a computer?
It’s a big trial and error process. I am running a list of songs that I want to sample and I spend a lot of time just cataloging and cutting up the song. The organization has become a big part of it. I’ll spend hours trying to piece together several components, and some species of bats when I build it from there.
What kind of program do you use to make music?
I only use two programs. The first part of the process, cutting up, is done with Adobe Audition. Then I piece things together using a program called Audiomulch, which I also used to perform live. I also run using Panasonic Toughbooks, and when I’m on stage I finish my computer in saran wrap.
Did you bring your biomedical engineering background to create music?
Yes, I think so. They are both very meticulous. I think a lot of times the album can sit there for hours and try to understand a piece of music, which is the same with engineering.
You music is composed by other people’s music. Have you faced any copyright issues?
I put my music out there and hope for the best. It is clearly in the gray area, but I believe it should fall into fair use under copyright law. I feel like people do not listen to my music instead of buying a CD or album artist I feature. Instead, people find new musicians, because the pattern on one of my records.
Is it more acceptable in today’s digital world?
Yes. I think a lot of artists are used to their music, they come back online, and to accept and embrace it. You have a generation who go to YouTube and remake and remix music online all the time. They remake and upload songs and videos, then remake remakes of other people, it just keeps going.
Have you ever asked not to use someone’s music in your albums?
No, we actually get a lot of positive feedback. A lot of labels actually release cappella version for people to do remixes now. It really helps sales and expanding their music.
Do you charge for CDs?
My first three albums were released in a fairly traditional way, where a CD cost $ 10 When we released the fourth album, he told me that he could “pay what you want.” But this last album I did not even give people the ability to pay, we just gave it away online, and we completely skipped the physical CD. It really seemed like the most efficient way to reach a wider audience.
So how to make money from their music?
I make money from tours and shows. In reality, I never envisaged it as a career. The fact that he came here as this really has become a surprise. I found that the best way to get a career out of this industry is to music as many people as possible.
Are you bothered when people illegally download their first CD?
Absolutely not. I loved it. It was very exciting. I actually used to go to Napster and LimeWire, and check to see how many people where stealing the album. It was very flattering.
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