Girl Talk is the nom de plume of mashup DJ remixer and crazed showman Greg Gillis. Greg’s masterful mixes and frenzied wild party live performances have created a world wide sensation. He gives away his music but earns his way with jam packed energetic sold out live shows. He came to international fame with Girl Talk’s five Illegal Art label album releases along with EPS on the 333 and 12 Apostle labels. Girl Talk's Youtube videos have been scene by millions. His recordings and shows have been widely hailed in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Pitchfork, Fast Company and many other influential publications. Gillis was the recipient of a Wired magazine Rave Award in 2007. His “Feed the Animals” album in 2008 was ranked the number 2 best recording of the year by Blender, number four on Time's Top 10 Albums, number 16 in the NPR listeners poll, and Rolling Stone it ranked #24 on their Top 50 albums giving it four stars. Greg was honored in his hometown when Pittsburgh declared Dec. 7, 2010, “Gregg Gillis Day.”
Playing for thousands his shows are described by Fast Company as “glittery, spectacular dance parties that are part ‘70s disco and glam rock, part ‘80s punk, strewn with confetti and toilet paper”. His performances break out in instant pandemonium with the jam packed crowd shouting wildly waving their arms in an explosion of confetti, toilet paper streamers, and blinding lights. Gillis blasts his energetic music from a laptop, belts out high speed rap exhortations into his microphone and dances wildly in circles stripped to his underwear while huge video screens flash a barrage of images. Fans jump on stage with Gillis gyrating to the music.
The songs of Girl Talk are fun to dance to pop art music collages made from rhythmic short samples culled from recent hit singles that are contextualized into ironic stories. The mash-up maestro skillfully times dozens of snippets from unrelated songs to a common energetic pulse. Gillis hijacks Hip-Hop hooks from Jay-Z, OutKast, Ice Cube, and Wiz Khalifa blending them with rock riffs rummaged from the Rolling Stones, AC/CD, Spencer Davis, Aerosmith, and Cheap Tricks, along with dance ditties de-veined from Devo and disco. He samples 50 years of pop music grabbing funny, cynical, angry, aggressive, sexy, and sincere hooks into mash up mayhem.
In addition to his innovative mash-ups, Gillis is an innovative promoter. Chucking the archaic way of selling CDs in big box stores, he gives his music away. He leaks songs by leaving CDs in club bathrooms, and offers completely free album downloads. Fans named their own price for the Feed the Animals album and Gillis gave away the entire “ALL Day” album completely FREE!. Download traffic was so heavy on the release day the Illegal Arts web servers crashed. MTV News reported in jest that “Girl Talk Apologizes for Breaking the Internet”. Taking a queue from the marketing master from Jimmy Buffet, what he sells is the wild party atmosphere of his shows. You can’t download the frenzied excitement and crazed joy that his events generate. His devoted fans flock to his must see raves. Tickets for his shows sell out in minutes.
Gregg Michael Gillis, born in 1981 in Pittsburgh, grew up in the suburan jungle of the South Hills. He mixes his musical kielbasas at his home in Pittsburgh's Polish Hill. Gillis began making music while attending Chartiers Valley High School. As a teen Gillis attended shows at the Millvale Industrial Theater where heard bizarre anti-music noise from bands like Merzbow and the Boredoms and was exposed to live laptop electronics of Kid 606’s song remixes. Gillis was never a dance club D.J. He wanted to be an experimental artist. He hit the local scene in the mid-'90s as teenage punk keyboardist for the experimental band The Joysticks. He performed at punk garage band / art show clubs.
After high school, he studied biomedical tissue engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. While at Case he bought a computer and started to experiment. He gradually shifted from experimental electronic noise to pop mash-ups laying the foundations of Girl Talk. He was influenced by the success of Danger Mouse’s cross-over electronic mashup of Jay-Z's "Black Album" and The Beatles' "White Album." Gillis tried out his music act live at house parties and small clubs. He soon realized that a mild-mannered laptop geek needed to be hair-swinging wild man to make a thrilling performance.
After earning his engineering degree, he took job with a Pittsburgh bio-med firm researching the effect of inner ear stimulation on sleep. At night he stimulated rave club goers moonlighting as a party leading maniac. He started his Girl Talk act playing at the Millvale Industrial Theater which he described as a “concrete bunker with a space heater”.
Gillis released the first Girl Talk album “Secret Diary“ through Illegal Art in 2002. He used familiar music to create something entirely new. He crazily blended samples of the Price is Right theme song with Jackson 5's "I Want You Back.",Cyndi Lauper, Jay-Z, Destiny's Child, Sheryl Crow's cover of "What if God was One of Us, .and C&C Music Factory .
With the release of “Night Ripper” in 2006, Gillis earned rave reviews from the websites Pop Matters and Pitchfork. The album landed on several best of the year list including the Rolling Stone and the Village Voice. Girl Talk's started playing more out of town weekend shows such as headlining the Mercury Lounge in New York and performing at at the prestigious Coachella Festival. The audiences were having great fun at his shows. Girl Talk subsequent releases Unstoppable (2006), Feed the Animals (2008), and All Day (2010) have continued to receive acclaim.
As demand for bookings grew, Gillis quit is engineering job in May of 2007 to focus on Girl Talk. Touring the world he is now earning a much more lucrative and fun living. And he is contributing to the economy by employing a road crew of 10, including a law degreed friend who is the show’s toilet paper guy.