Gregg Gills has built up a party-obsessed cult following as Girl Talk over the past 5 years. The project began with Gillis tearing apart mainstream music using digital signal processing (DSP) and re-piecing various songs back together into glitchy avant-garde renditions of pop music. This cut-and-paste train wreck style is what comprises Girl Talk's debut release Secret Diary (Illegal Art, 2002). He also developed the initial incarnation of his self-proclaimed "over the top" live show during this era, complete with synchronized dance squads, outfit changes, and plenty of crowd interaction/participation. These flashy performances were a response to the increasingly widespread sit-behind-a-laptop-and-look-bored-while-simultaneously-boring-the- audience-style laptop shows.
On his sophomore release Unstoppable (Illegal Art, 2004), Girl Talk took a step away from the DSP/noise of his first release and instead fixated on tightly edited beats and melodies with pop music hooks and samples. As described by Adam Strohm of Dusted Magazine, "Gillis proves to be a masterful arranger of samples; there always seem to be a million things happening at once, and every little snippet of sound seems to be perfectly in place. Gillis warps the pitch and speed of the original sound source when needed, and adds his own IDM beats and squiggles, but the samples he uses are every track's main ingredient and, subsequently, the decisive stars of Unstoppable." With a growing fan base, Gillis began to work crowds into a frenzy at venues ranging from rowdy college house parties to art museums to dive bars with rock bands.
For his latest album, Night Ripper, Gillis has developed a style strictly for the dance floor. Pounding beats are mixed with an endless flow of familiar Top 40 samples. Gillis currently lives in Pittsburgh and actively participates and collaborates with other "on the verge" Midwest and East coast artists such as Grand Buffet (Fighting), Drop the Lime (Tigerbeat6), Chris Glover (Interscope), and Hearts of Darknesses (Schematic/Asphodel). Gregg also tours regularly, which has included previous performances in Europe and Japan. He has done shows with a variety of artists such as Prefuse 73, Wesley Willis, Soft Pink Truth, Wolf Eyes, Luke Vibert, Japanther, Cex, and Otto Von Schirach.
As Night Ripper samples some rather current hits, it is being released immediately upon completion on the Illegal Art website (before it officially hits retail). Illegal Art is also launching an exclusive digital download club that will feature post-Night Ripper tracks, further shortening the turnaround of Girl Talk's super-current sampling habits. Other sonic outlaws, such as The Evolution Control Committee, will likewise be contributing sample-heavy mixes to the download club.
Besides releasing albums on Illegal Art, Girl Talk has issued a 12" on 12 Apostles (UK), a 7" on 333 Recordings (Deerhoof, Drop the Lime, Sagan, etc.) and appeared on various compilations. One noted compilation was Spasticated Record's Ministry of Shit (2003), which was quickly litigated for its mockery of the trendy UK danceclub, Ministry of Sound.
If Night Ripper falls under legal scrutiny, Illegal Art has prepared a Fair Use legal defense. The Fair Use factors of Copyright Law allow for appropriation under certain circumstances. Most Illegal Art releases fall into a Fair Use gray area, but regardless of legal interpretation Illegal Art maintains that artists should be allowed to liberally sample in the creation of new works. One of the key factors that weigh in Illegal Art's favor is that their releases are dramatically different from the originals and therefore would never encroach on the sampled artists' markets. Nevertheless, Night Ripper has already been "ruled infringement" by a CD manufacturer who refused to complete the project. The label took a partial refund and is now using a different manufacturer. No disrespect is intended, though, as the liner notes contain a thank you list of 164 artists who "contributed" to what is easily the most comprehensive and exhaustive mix-type album ever made.
Live On Stage:
Girl Talk makes what he calls "party jams" - basically songs with tons of recognizable samples that will get you dancing. Is the term mash-up passe already? He's the warm up act for Sasha and Digweed on Saturday night, though they're at pretty opposite ends of the electronica genre. Here check out this clip where he samples Yes, Tag Team and Rick Ross....
Not sure if this is an official video, but here's "Touch 2 Feel" off of his Unstoppable album....
And here's an "unofficial" video for "Friday Night"....
For more on Girl Talk head on over to his official site.
Monday, May 28, 2007