Charles Basenga Kiyanda

The 6 months music challenge 2: Girl Talk

A friend of mine sent me a message telling me about the music of “Girl Talk“, a DJ from Pittsburgh. I’m not such a huge fan of this type of music (or at least I didn’t use to be), but I’m starting to discover interesting stuff around that I actually like. Girl Talk samples popular music songs and remixes them into original work. It’s probably completely illegal (at least as far as the big business boys are concerned) and the only reason he hasn’t gotten sued yet is that he’s not that mainstream yet. (He still has a day job, which involves research and a large company.) I like it, interesting stuff. [EDIT: I have listened to the first 30 seconds of the documentary and there is an excerpt of a US House of Representatives meeting where Girl Talk was brought up, so I take that back. If the people of Washington in their ivory tower have heard of Girl Talk, then he must have gotten noticed by everyone, really.]

Here’s a link to an interview with the DJ.

Here is his myspace page with a link to a download page for his album “Feed the Animals”, which is pay as you want la Radiohead. Interestingly, it’s a differential pricing scheme at the same time. (I guess Radiohead kind of had that too.)

  • 0-5$ gets you the mp3s
  • 5-10$ gets you mp3+FLAC (FLAC is a lossless audio compression)
  • >10$ gets you mp3+FLAC+actual CD when it comes out.

I put 0$ since I wanted to listen to the album first and the websiste sent me to another webpage where I had to select an option to answer the question:

I selected 0$ because:

  • I may donate later
  • I can’t afford to pay
  • I don’t really like Girl Talk
  • I don’t believe in paying for music
  • I have already purchased this album
  • I don’t value musid from sampling
  • I am part of the press, radio, or music industry
  • Other reasons

As a bonus, here’s a link to a Danish documentary, Good Copy Bad Copy which apparently features Girl Talk. I haven’t watched the documentary, yet, but I definitely plan to. [EDIT: You can listen to the documentary online or download it via bittorrent. Donation through paypal is posible.]

On a legal standpoint, I was a little disappointed. Girl Talk’s music is made by sampling and reusing other people’s music in new and creative ways. There’s a text file accompanying the album I downloaded (Feed the Animals), which essentially lists the credits and the fact that the album was released by Illegal Art. Since the product is about sampling, it would be nice for Girl Talk to release his music with something like a creative commons license which explicitely allows relicensing. Maybe the fact that what he’s doing is illegal is kind of the point of the music, but I think Girl Talk’s creative reusing of other people’s works has merits on its own as music and not just as a social statement. I value more the fact that this is good and interesting music than the fact that this disturbs the established music industry. I would have liked to see this formalized by the artist in the form of an explicit license to sample his work. This would drive the point home that sampling is not copying and is ok.

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