Ever since he broke out with 2006's genre-splicing (and genre-defining) Night Ripper album, people have been asking Girl Talk if he ever planned on producing beats for others. His answer, usually, was "No."
Over the next six years, he'd release two more GT full lengths, '08's Feed The Animals and '10's All Day, and tour relentlessly. But in the past 12 months, he's taken time off the road, began stockpiling beats, and started to reconsider his position when it came to working with others.
"I've been working on stuff for a year that was a bit more geared towards something like this — making beats rather than straight-up mashups," GT — aka Gregg Gillis — told MTV News. "The project of Girl Talk was the project. But I always thought it would be cool that, if I had some time off the road, to just make something to make it, not worry about the shows. I started making beats in a way that I never had before, and I didn't really know what was going to happen with it."
Turns out, what happened was Broken Ankles, a collaborative EP with fellow Keystone Stater Freeway (Free's famously from Philly, while Gillis reps for Pittsburgh) that the duo informally announced this weekend with a surprise performance in Brooklyn. It's a definite departure for both artists — both in subject matter and scope — which is what made it the perfect fit for the material Gillis has spent the past year working on.
"I had the idea to do a mixtape with someone, but have it flow like one of my albums. I wanted to do a mixtape that was pretty different from your average mixtape. Every song is connected and there's a very distinct beginning and end; it works as a whole," Gillis explained. "It's a continuous mix, but the songs can work as standalones. It's a very colorful listen, too; there's stuff that's more obscure soul samples, there's '70s prog rock samples, there's more modern samples; it jumps around. So it represents a lot of what we were doing together."
Gillis said that Freeway was at the top of his list when it came to collaborators — "I've been a fan for, like, a decade, no lie," he laughed — and the duo recorded something in the neighborhood of 70 beats for the album, with the majority being done over the course of a week in Philadelphia. Since then, he and Free have traded ideas via phone calls and emails, and, in the process, formed a rather unlikely friendship, too.
"Yeah, we're the Pennsylvania Dream Team. We hang out together in the studio, shared meals. He always had some wings poppin' or some cheese fries or whatever," Gillis said. "And we talk on the phone every single day. Our relationship is pretty cool; we're actually going to go out tonight."
Broken Ankles will be released sometime this fall through mixtape site DatPiff.com (Gillis said he's still waiting on a few features from other artists before he settles on a definitive date,) and though it may not satisfy fans thirsting for a new Girl Talk album, that may not be the point; this represents where his head is at now, and that mindset might not change any time soon. Then again, who knows?
"I don't have any plans for all the beats I made. I spent a year making them, and I want to do something with all of them; I'm interested in branching out, and I have particular people in mind for each beat," Gillis said. "It's always important for me to keep it moving, but I never want to dismiss the possibility of a new Girl Talk record, because I'm sitting on as much material as I had when I made the last Girl Talk record."