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T.J. Miller

“This record is basically a joke, but it’s also something that I’m really proud of,” T.J. Miller says of his new Illegal Art release The Extended Play E.P. Illegal Art ReMixTape.

T.J. Miller is one of America’s hottest young comics, having recently starred in his first standup special No Real Reason on Comedy Central. He’s also an in-demand actor, with featured roles in such high-profile fare as Cloverfield, She’s Out of My League, Unstoppable and Get Him to the Greek.

Miller’s first CD, The Extended Play E.P., released in 2011 by Comedy Central Records, found him adopting the role of entitled hip-hop dilettante, attaching his name and persona to an absurdly elaborate aural extravaganza (in defiance of his lack of rapping ability or musical talent) while hiring professionals to do the heavy lifting.

Now, Miller takes the concept further with The Extended Play E.P. Illegal Art ReMixTape. The project finds him turning content from his earlier release over to some of the world’s most inventive remixers, who’ve reworked the original tracks into sonic statements that expand and illuminate the satirical ideas that Miller first explored on The Extended Play E.P.

According to Miller, The Extended Play E.P. and The Extended Play E.P. Illegal Art ReMixTape “are making fun of celebrities who think that, because they’re good at one thing, they’re good at everything. I find that whole celebrity-worship thing silly, so I wanted to respond to it and point out how ridiculous this system is. The first record was about me putting my name on stuff that I didn’t have anything to do with creating musically. The music is good because I paid talented people to create it, and now that’s part of the joke, because nowadays anyone can pay someone for music and pretend to be a rapper.”

“Also,” he continues, “guys like Lil Wayne and Puff Daddy have remixed their own albums and making more money by repackaging things that they’d already done. So I thought it would be funny if I remixed my own album. Then I thought it would be even better to give it to real artists who are respected, interesting and on the cutting edge, so that the remix would be better than the original album. Therefore, in addition to being a joke, the remix record ended up being something I’m very proud of. That other people did.”

The Extended Play E.P. Illegal Art ReMixTape’s stellar cast of remixers includes the Kleptones, Junk Culture, Babes, Touch People and the Bran Flakes, as well as Jesse Case (a major collaborator on the Extended Play E.P.) The collection climaxes with “The Waiter Scene,” an epic 21-minute megamix by Illegal Art mainstay and hip-hop legend Steinski. A seminal figure in the art of the sample-based sound collage since the early 1980s, Steinski and T.J. first met when Miller convinced him to DJ at his birthday party. “I reached out to Steinski never thinking he would do a private gig,” says Miller, “but after sending him a 5 page email detailing how much I loved him and his work, he started a dialogue.”

“To me, the Steinski megamix is basically a less self-indulgent, musically superior version of the original Extended Play E.P.,” Miller notes. “Steinski’s work is the ultimate expression of the remix: making something better by deconstructing it and putting it back together in a way that reflects his ideas and his sensibility. He’s a real artist, as opposed to me just putting my name on stuff– which I consider of course to be my sole purpose and art.”

Despite his parallel success in the mainstream showbiz world, The Extended Play E.P. Illegal Art ReMixTape demonstrates T.J. Miller’s commitment to pursuing projects that showcase his uncompromising comic sensibility.

“I know that it’s career suicide to release two music albums before I have a standup album out,” Miller acknowledges. “But I wanted to make the point that nothing is off limits; that I’ll make fun of anything, and that if it occurs to me to do something because I think it’s funny or a good satirical statement, then I’m going do it–no matter how foolish. The idea behind these records is to let people understand that I’m serious about this satire.”

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Photo by Jillian Sorkin

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Photo by Jillian Sorkin