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DJ Danger Mouse Speaks Out On ‘Grey Album’
On the heels of the recent virtual civil disobedience “Grey Tuesday,” which led to more than 1 million downloads of Danger Mouse’s unsanctioned “The Grey Album,” the artist was the subject of a Q&A keynote address yesterday (March 7) at the inaugural M3 Summit in Miami. The recordings feature vocal tracks from Jay-Z’s “The Black Album” laid atop beats created using the Beatles’ “White Album.”
“I knew I could never release the album commercially,” said the 26-year-old artist, whose real name is Brian Burton. Once he completed the album, which he describes as a “deconstruction and reconstruction” that took about two weeks to make, he says he made a few CDRs and gave them to friends.
Copies of the disc found their way into specialty record stores. Additionally, Burton did promote the CD, but did not sell it, on his Web site. It quickly became a media sensation. From there, Burton says he knew that it was only a matter of time before he “received some kind of legal letter in the mail. But I never worried about it. When I was making the album, I wasn’t thinking if what I as doing was legal or not. I wasn’t trying to challenge copyright laws with this album. It was more a creative — an artistic — process.”
And while EMI, which owns the Beatles catalog, sent the artist a cease-and-desist order one month ago, Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella label has taken no action. “I wish ‘The Grey Album’ could have been a regular, commercial release — even though I knew it never could or would,” Burton notes. “Only time will tell what’s next for this record.”
While Burton understands that such a recording is “scary” for labels, he says this type of thing can’t be stopped. “Stealing music is wrong. [Illegal] downloading is wrong,” he explains. “But people protested about this record because it was not made commercially available.”
When asked by Billboard if there was any one thing that has surprised him about all the media attention, Burton said, “Every day is unbelievable. I’m surprised that this many people like the CD. What I made was a f***ed-up recording. It confirms that people want that which they cannot have.”
Following the Q&A, Danger Mouse treated M3 Summit attendees to his first-ever “Grey Album” DJ set poolside at the Surfcomber Hotel in South Beach.