Girl Talk: The poster boy for M.I.A.

Gregg Gillis, a/k/a Girl Talk, features Philly rapper Freeway (right) on his new EP, and he may show up during his M.I.A. set.
Gregg Gillis, a/k/a Girl Talk, features Philly rapper Freeway (right) on his new EP, and he may show up during his M.I.A. set.
Posted: August 29, 2014

GREGG GILLIS, the mix-mashing male artist ironically known as Girl Talk, is usually pegged as a major player in the "EDM" (electronic dance music) camp.

"But I've always felt as connected with rock, pop and hip-hop as with electronic, never wanted to pick a side," Gillis shared the other day from home base in Pittsburgh.

"And I'm much happier playing at diversified festivals like Made in America than at a straight up EDM festival where people come for the atmosphere and the party and it's easy [for an artist] to get lost in the shuffle."

Hard to believe that could ever happen to this dude - who'll be doing his thing (and rocking our town) at 6:45 p.m. Sunday.

It's his thing

Once aiming for a career as a biomedical engineer, Gillis has become even better versed in the law, especially the ins and outs of "fair use."

"It's not about the length of the sample anymore, it's about using a copyrighted work in creative, transformative ways that don't take away sales from the original, that actually send your listeners in search of the original," he said.

"While people had some, um, concerns early on, talent managers now often send me their artists' tracks saying, 'Please, use this.' "It's part of the new way of thinking about music promotion, getting your signal heard over the noise in this media-saturated world - just the way breaking songs in commercials, TV shows and movies is now considered good form."

Attitude adjustment

Clearly the poster boy for sonic smorgasbords like M.I.A., Gillis suggests the age of musical segregation - fans rabidly supporting one genre and dissing most others - has now finally passed.

"I've thought a lot about this. In the '90s, when radio and MTV still had a stranglehold on the music industry, it was a big statement to be anti-corporate rock, because everything else was being shut out, difficult to hear. But today, everything is accessible, just a click away on the Internet. There are no walls. And lots of the music is free. So it's easier and perfectly acceptable to just find and like what you want for what it is - mainstream artists as well as fringe."

For his part, Gillis/Girl Talk "used to charge for downloads, trying the concept 'pay what you want.' "That confused people. Now I just give it away. And support myself touring."


Blog: philly.com/GizmoGuy Online: ph.ly/Tech

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