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But even as a hard-core party scientist, Gillis isn't all hung up on notions of analytical accuracy and absolute truth. "There's no correct way to understand [the music]," he insists. "You know, I understand it on a certain level, and I like it on a certain level. But if someone has a very different reason for liking it, I don't think that's wrong or incorrect. I get that they have a different background in music.
"When I started this project, it was more of an underground sorta thing," he recalls. "Back then, I was really interested in pushing people's buttons. I was a fan of pop music and everything I sampled. But I knew it was sometimes challenging for these underground-style shows to embrace pop music."
Over these past ten twisting years, though, the Girl Talk experience has shifted from a bratty Negativland- and John Oswald-inspired stab at pop-culture pranksterism to a far broader, all-inclusive initiative that's exploded beyond the cool-kid rock bars, landing on stages at midsize theaters, mini-arenas, and major music festivals in a hyperactive frenzy of high-tech LED screens, toilet-paper cannons, and random props — not to mention hipsters, ravers, frat boys, club kids, and radio junkies.
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"The audience now is very exciting to me," Gillis enthuses. "There are some people who are very indie-music-minded and might hate pop music, but they like hearing it manipulated. And then there are other people who are just straight-up music fans and they like knowing all the references.
"It's an appropriation-based project. Some people think about it. And other people don't," he says. "People can deconstruct it on many serious levels. Or people can just go party, watch a ton of confetti fly in the air, and sweat with their friends."