Last week, I had the chance to have a 15 minute conversation with the ruler of remixes and mash-ups, Girl Talk. On the bus ride to Wisconsin, Gregg Gillis AKA Girl Talk and I discussed his transition from working as an engineer, to selling out countless numbers of shows and being a boss to full-time Girl Talk employees. Agonizing over what the hell I would ask an artist who somehow sells out arenas without one song on the radio or some sex-filled scandal, speaking to him was if I was speaking to one of my good friends, even talking about one of my favorite underrated bands sometimes sampled by Girl Talk, Supergrass.
Briana Henry: How did the transition from engineer to full-time entertainer/performer happen? Were you just like screw it, I’m going to do this full time?
Girl Talk: I did both for awhile and during school. I was pretty active. With my third album in 2006, I thought it was distinctively different from the others, but I didn’t think it would turn into a career. It just snowballed and at that point things changed. We started booking shows, and then all of a sudden, selling out shows. My goal was to sustain music for one year, but things just kept growing and growing. It’s not me being modest, it’s just everything snowballed.
BH: Scheduled this year, how many shows do you have planned? It was about 200 last year, right? Why not have 10 insane shows a year and then relax?
GT: Yeah, about 150. I’ve been on this cycle and people hit me up on Twitter or Facebook. There’s a demand for shows and it gives me a lot of motivation to have new material. It’s hard to say no. The down-side is that it’s physically exhausting, but I’m happy to push it. Also, the people who work with me are full-time employees of Girl Talk.
BH: Are you constantly on the prowl to find new material?
GT: I definitley have a run with songs, and a lot of times it’s songs I’ve heard a million times. Sometimes I’ll look at the reaction of people when I’m at a bar and think maybe I can work with this. Or, I’m looking at my set and theres not enough of this or that. I’m actively looking for samples for my sets.
BH: What music do you listen to when you have a day off or have an extended break?
GT: I would say when we’re on the bus, just hip hop, mixtapes, Rick Ross, Juicy J, on a day like today. If I was home it’d probably be Neil Young or something like that. All of the things I sample, I actively listen to.
BH: I was at your show last year in Michigan at a hockey arena, of all places. Anyway, what’s changed since last year, besides the led lights?
GT: Oh yeah, Compuware. The first time I had a ligthing guy, since then we’ve flipped it and honed everything in, tightened everything up. I feel like im leading a band, they have to feed off of my cues. It’s gotten a lot more fine-tuned.
Last year, to celebrate a friend’s birthday, myself and a group of friends went to see Girl Talk at Compuware Arena (which is usually reserved for hockey) in Michigan. With no expectations whatsoever, my wobbly legs stumbled out of the arena, drunk and shocked at what I witnessed. It was one of the best shows and the most fun I didn’t expect to have. The energy of the crowd was the fuel that pumped into the engine that is Girl Talk. That non-stop momentum kept me from going to the bathroom or getting another drink from the bar (I didn’t need it). There was no point during the show where I wasn’t entertained.
Say what you will about his music, or the strange fact that he has yet to be sued for copyright infringement, the show is a sweat-filled dance party that can appeal to anyone. Confetti, toilet paper, and balloons rain down on audience members, somehow fueling this engine that seems as if it will never stall or quit. After your first Girl Talk concert, the wait to see another performance will be unbearable.
This is a concert that is not to be missed. Your shit will be rocked and I won’t be surprised if this show sells out.
The concert is this Friday, June 8th, at the LC, and tickets are $25.
Here’s a sample: