Photograph by Karl Walter/Getty Images
In a world of cut-and-paste music, nobody wields the sonic glue gun as boldly as mash-up artist Gregg Gillis, a.k.a. Girl Talk. On his frenetic, fist-pumping fourth album, Feed the Animals, the 27-year-old Pittsburgh native blends almost 300 samples—and proves that Soulja Boy and Thin Lizzy can live side by side in perfect harmony.
Q: You released Animals digitally, with a pay-what-you-want structure, and followed with a CD—like Radiohead. Would you have done it if they hadn't?
A: No. It wasn't a legitimate model until they did it. But it's also the first time I've had an audience who was hungry for a new record, so someone would have leaked it. It's just better to be up-front with people.
Q: You sampled In Rainbows. Did you pay for the download?
A: Nope. The industry tries to scare people into thinking it's illegal to use any copyrighted material. But there's fair use.
Q: Do you get pissed when people call you a DJ?
A: I'm not a DJ, but I see why people feel the need to label what I do. I've never played a dance club. My gigs are at the same scuzzy places as rock bands'. I don't just get up there and push play.
Q: Your shows are notoriously anarchic, with crowds dancing onstage. Do you ever worry about the safety of your laptop?
A: Yeah, I went through three last year. Lately I've been using this Panasonic Toughbook. They say you can't break it, but I broke it in Tulsa this summer. Pretty good, though—lasted me six months. Matt Hendrickson
"Play Your Part," the opening track on Feed the Animals