They go all-out on their new mixtape, The Wild, The Innocent, The TV Shuffle (which you can listen to at tvgirl.bandcamp.com and download here), using about 85 different sampled elements in 15 tracks. They range from vintage funk drum breaks and girl-group vocal parts to a 28-second voicemail message from one TV Girl member's mom.
Alas, the mixtape marks the end of sampling for TV Girl (whose core members, Trung Ngo and Brad Petering, moved to Los Angeles from San Diego last year).
Though they aren't done imitating artists—just listen to their new song "Diet-Coke," written in the style of Idaho indie-pop project Youth Lagoon—they're currently working on an album that's bereft of borrowed clips.
"Samples are an interesting way to write music, but they can be limiting in ways," Petering explains in an email. "It'll be nice to write bridges and stuff instead of just relying on loops.
"And it could be nice to be able to sell records in the future if we wanted to," he adds.
Ambitious and highly conceptual, the mixtape feels like a whirlwind tour of YouTube's depths. Samples are used as much for music as commentary: The buoyant track "Loud and Clear," with its glimmering riff lifted from Buffalo Springfield's classic protest song "For What it's Worth," reflects on the ways technology distracts from and filters human relationships.
Of course, even the most artful sampling can be tricky business. Last year, copyright lawyers at Rhino Entertainment had "If You Want It" wiped from the Internet, issuing takedown notices to websites that had posted it. (It's currently available on YouTube.)
But the guys in TV Girl don't seem worried about whatever challenges lay ahead—though, in some ways, it might be harder to go sample-free. As Petering notes, "you can't really get away with composing the entire song just on your computer."