Girl Talk is the stage name of Pittsburg-based mash-up artist Gregg Gillis. From my (limited) understanding of the genre, mash-ups (also referred to as “bastard pop”) have been around for a while now, and have recently become more accessible and popular thanks to positive reception to artists like Danger Mouse (see: Gnarls Barkley, The Grey Album). But while mash-ups tend to combine only two or three songs into a “new” track, Girl Talk kicks it “up to eleven”, literally and figuratively. A typical track by Girl Talk often takes samples from more than a dozen different pop songs, blended into a bitchin’ beat-based song that will endanger your personal property, since they have the tendency to set roofs on fire.
In his earlier years, Girl Talk maintained his music career alongside his day job as a biomedical engineer. Like a superhero with a dual identity, Gregg Gillis kept his music career as Girl Talk separate from his day life- in one instance, Girl Talk flew to Australia to do a show before promptly returning back to work on Monday morning, with his coworkers being none the wiser. He has since quit his day job and is now a full-time musician.
So what are his shows like? In a word, sweaty. No matter how much of a stick-in-the-mud you are, you will end up dancing, and you’ll be able to do so without the courage-inducing support of alcohol or other drug substances. White girls will throw their hands in the air while screaming “WOOOOO” at the top of their shrill voices. There will be vigorous crotch-on-crotch contact. Inhibitions will be discarded, as will articles of clothing. You’ll be able to smell the music, or at least the musky sweat of a couple hundred bodies packed into a single room as they rock out to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” mixed with Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy”. Girl Talk often invites the crowd to dance on stage while he mixes, exposing himself to the ass-grabbing antics of fangirls who are unable to resist his sweaty, shirtless, hairy body.
Girl Talk will inevitably appeal to your sense of nostalgia, often mixing contemporary hip hop with some classic pop song that you’ve likely heard a million times already. And his sense of humor is quite evident in his sample selections; there’s just something delightfully twisted about mashing-up Khia’s “My Neck, My Back” with the power ballad piano bit from Richard Marx’s “Right Here, Waiting”. Girl Talk is definitely a worthy artist to check out, especially if you want to see all those pop songs you’re familiar with being used in a new and inventive way.
Secret Diary (2002, Illegal Art)
Unstoppable (2004, Illegal Art)
Night Ripper (2006, Illegal Art)
Feed the Animals (2008, Illegal Art)*
*Feed the Animals is currently available for download on the Illegal Art website, by a “pay-what-you-think-it's-worth” pricing scheme. Definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a cheapskate.