Interview: Girl Talk

Photo credit: Paul Sobota

Back in 2007, we talked to mashup mastermind Gregg Gillis about the origins of Girl Talk, his influences, and (naturally) Three Doors Down. You can download Girl Talk’s latest album, All Day, at Gregg Gillis’ official site. Girl Talk will perform at San Diego’s Soma on March 22.

Owl&Bear: Where did you get the name Girl Talk and what does it signify, if anything?

Gregg Gillis: I was trying to pick the most intimidating name possible, something that when people hear it, they just sense insanity.

Owl&Bear: How fucking rad is it to be able to party for a living now?

Gregg Gillis: It’s pretty cool. Last night, I watched Scarface and Troll on a projector at my apartment by myself. Today, I woke up at 2:00 PM, ate lunch at Eat ‘N Park, and tonight, I’m going to drink tequila and practice karaoke with my friends Richard and Cassi. I’m trying to master Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike.”

Owl&Bear: Obviously, you have a great love for hip hop, so what artists specifically influenced you the most in your becoming Girl Talk?

Gregg Gillis: Growing up, I was really into the new jack swing genre, especially Bel Biv Devoe. They had a fairly quick sampling style that can be heard in my music. I also got down with the more serious stuff, like Public Enemy and N.W.A. Public Enemy’s appropriation style is also a huge influence, just layers of different samples going on. It was extremely experimental and progressive for music that was Top 40 at the time.

Owl&Bear: Which was better for you, Pitchfork or Bonnaroo?

Gregg Gillis: At the Pitchfork festival, I was cut off prematurely because the cops showed up and said there were too many people everywhere. So, that didn’t help me out too much. I was friends with more bands and enjoyed more of the acts at Pitchfork, but as for my actual set, I thought Bonnaroo went down better. The sound was insane, everyone was freaking out with the freak-outs. It was a magical hour for me.

Owl&Bear: What kind of current music do you dig?

Gregg Gillis: I listen to anything. Currently, I’ve been jamming new music from Bone Thugz and Harmony, Of Montreal, Swizz Beatz, UGK, and My Chemical Romance.

Owl&Bear: What’s your go-to song to really get the asses shakin’?

Gregg Gillis: I only do remixes when I play live. So, it’s never like “Man, I better play ‘Nuthin But a G Thang’ to set it off right now.” At my shows, people are familiar with my last album, Night Ripper, so if I want to pick up the intensity, I just drop in some elements from that, and people usually get sweaty.

Owl&Bear: I’ve heard rumors of a new album. If, and when can Girl Talk fans expect any surprises?

Gregg Gillis:Everything new that I play live is work towards a new album. I’m trying to lock it down by fall. I might try to work in a few guest spots that might surprise people. I want to collaborate with Three Doors Down on some material if they’re up for it.

Owl&Bear: Did you know that putting The Night Ripper on in a car can be fatal, especially in heavy traffic?

Gregg Gillis: When I finished the album, I played it in my car for a week straight. I made my friends listen to it on repeat. It was almost fatal. I haven’t listened to it in the car since.

Owl&Bear: What do you think of the argument that Girl Talk is all style, no substance?

Gregg Gillis: Everything is stylish to someone else. Everything lacks style to someone else. Everything has substance to someone else. Everything has no substance to someone else. Everyone has opinions; some people think theirs are correct.

Owl&Bear: If being fresh to death were a crime, would you become a fugitive, or turn yourself in?

Gregg Gillis: I love The Fugitive movie.

Owl&Bear: Have you had any feedback from the artists featured in your work?

Gregg Gillis: No, unfortunately. But I just met Thurston Moore last weekend and told him that I sampled his music without paying for it, and he said it was cool. Then we took a camera phone pic together. Then, I walked away, and he was by himself. He played air guitar and made some guitar noises with his mouth, just hanging out alone, no joke. He’s a great dude.

Owl&Bear: Will you ever mature into Woman Talk?

Gregg Gillis: I want to mature into High School Undertaker.

Owl&Bear: What kind of software and/or equipment do you use?

Gregg Gillis: I use Adobe Audition and Audiomulch.

Owl&Bear: Is there anyone you would like to work with?

Gregg Gillis: The Melvins, Todd Rundgren, and Timbaland.

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