Dialog Talk: A Film about Dakota Gill (2023)

Dakota Gill wears many hats as a musician, but his musical identity is securely tied to the Connecticut River Valley. Born and raised on a farm in Western Massachusetts, Dakota now studies music at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. But most who are aware of his musical presence know him for his contributions outside the classroom, which are many and varied. Perhaps his most popular role is as Dialog Talk, not only a clever anagram for his name but also an outlet for electronic music. Dakota commonly takes on this moniker at established venues in the area such as 10 Forward and The Drake, but also at house shows playing with underground acts ranging in style from punk to hyperpop. He’s a staple in the loose community that has emerged around such off-the-beaten-path shows, attracting a diverse crowd of students from across the Five Colleges. He also performs for similar circles in different musical scenes—he plays electric bass in the noise rock group Hauzu and handles synths for the harsher electronic noise of Fetal Anomaly.

At Dialog Talk gigs, Dakota commands the feel of a room through his operation of some pretty high-tech gadgetry—multicolored drum pads, dials, buttons, and cables, all connected to his computer. On the screen, there is an interface with details of what track is playing and pulsing signals receptive to the sounds he is playing in real time on his drum pad. In a room of thrusting bodies and young people in a Saturday night frenzy, he possesses a single-minded focus on his craft, with an understated oblivion to the chaos of his surroundings.

The digital world of Dialog Talk stands out as a unique fixture among the noise-rock and indie-rock bands that permeate Five College nightlife. One wonders how or why Dakota found EDM, a music of stark aesthetic contrast to his semi-rural world in Western Massachusetts. What does it offer him that jazz doesn’t? Where has it taken him, and where will he take it? Where does it take us, if we really listen?