ACL Fest Sunday Interviews

Escape from St. Elsewhere

ACL Fest Sunday Interviews
Photo by Gary Miller

Gnarls Barkley

6:30pm, AT&T stage

This month's issue of Esquire lists Danger Mouse as one of "The 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century." He is, both literally and figuratively, the most understated and off-the-mic individual you've heard of on that list. Jon Stewart, LeBron James, Barack Obama: These are people who crave the spotlight, seek out the audience.

"I hope the people who are just sitting there listening to music aren't thinking too much about me," he says carefully.

That's wishful thinking. Three of this weekend's headlining acts benefited from Danger Mouse production on high-profile releases this year: the Black Keys' Attack & Release, Beck's Modern Guilt, and Gnarls Barkley's The Odd Couple, of which he is one-half. His signature sound, that reverb-heavy, scattered minimalism he describes as "very Sixties chorus-y" and brushes off with, "It's focused on heavily because we're not the people who would seem to use that kind of music," has reshaped the former two act's catalogs and redefined his Gnarls Barkley partner's career.

Cee-Lo Green, once only regarded in hip-hop circles for his work with Goodie Mob and OutKast, is now one of popular music's most recognizable singers. "People look at me and Cee-Lo and say, 'Wow, hip-hop guys,'" begins the Mouse (aka Brian Burton), alluding to previous work he's done with MF Doom, Gorillaz, and his breakthrough mash-up of the Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's The Black Album. "I just think that's not really what we are."

What they are is The Odd Couple. Odd in the sense that they stand alone in the music they're creating, a trait that makes their March 2008 release more forward-thinking than they had even intended. "It's taking its own form," he agrees. "I don't think we really knew that certain things were possible."

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Gnarls Barkley, Danger Mouse

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