Biography: Gregg Gillis is a DJ who performs and compiles under the name Girl Talk. In interviews, Gillis has provided a plethora of different explanations for the origin of the Girl Talk moniker (Full House reference, a line from a Jim Morrison poem, et. Al.), which, given the disparate nature and pop culture-melding nature of his music, seems quite appropriate. A former engineer from Pitttsburgh, Gillis released several records until he perfected his sample-heavy style and gained national notoriety from his third album Night Ripper. That album, and its two progressively better followups Feed the Animals and All Day incorporated hundred of samples (largely comprised of recognizable snippets from Top 40 pop, rap and classic rock) into a lightning-quick melting-pot barrage of mashups that progress from idea to idea quickly enough to rarely overstay their welcome. Though some see his distinctive style as derivative or gimmicky, his albums have appeared on year-end lists from publications such as Time, Pitchfork and NPR. Since the peak of All Day in 2010, Gillis has maintained a fairly regular touring schedule while providing the occasional collaborative work for rappers such as Waka Flaka Flame and the dude from Flatbush Zombies who isn’t the one with the cool gravelly voice. His Bonnaroo performance marks his second appearance at the festival, and while he hasn’t released much new studio material featuring mashups from post-2010 songs, his live performance almost undoubtedly will.
• Secret Diary (2002)
• Unstoppable (2004)
• Night Ripper (2006)
• Feed the Animals (2008)
• All Day (2010)
Since 2010, he’s also released three singles and an EP that are perfectly adequate, but not the mashup fare for which he’s famous.
Genre: Mashup, electronic, hip hop
Similar Artists: The Hood Internet, Ratatat, Milkman, The Avalanches (according to Spotify)
Similar Bonnaroo Artists: none (maybe there are but I don’t know the EDM acts super well)
Girl Talk’s albums are continuous mixes, and each song is eclectic and varied enough that individual songs recommendations are fairly pointless. Feed the Animals was my first experience with him, and I’d say that or All Day are logical starting points. To get a general feel for his style, here’s a few random tracks that feature several highly recognizable samples:
Smash Your Head:
Minute by Minute:
Play Your Part (Pt. 1):
This is the Remix:
Jump on Stage:
Physical Reaction/Live Show
I had the opportunity to catch a Girl Talk show at Panorama in 2017 and had every intention of seeing a good 15-20 minutes of his set, but the crowd for Frank Ocean after Solange was too thick for me to venture all the way out there and expect to have even a decent spot for Frank (aka the primary reason I was there). Regardless, his live shows are known for consistent high energy with little breaks and for bombastic displays such as balloons and inviting fans to dance on stage as he DJs. A few Youtube clips of full shows are linked here for your pleasure:
• In the city of Pittsburgh, December 7 is Gregg Gillis Day (thought that day already was infamous for other reasons, but sure ok).
• Just to give an idea of the kaleidoscopic and disparate nature of his sampling choices, here’s a list from JUST ONE song.
• Lmao, apparently he was Gwyneth Paltrow’s wedding DJ last year: link
• Here’s a pretty good 10-year retrospective on Feed the Animals and mashup music in general from The Ringer.
• Mostly, I really really wish Girl Talk was scheduled on Saturday or Sunday. He’d be one of my most anticipated acts on a day with a weaker schedule, but between Childish Gambino, Beach House, Courtney Barnett, Solange, BROCKHAMPTON, Metalroo, and LN Phish, there’s almost certainly going to be some sort of unsavory conflict(s) that make me somewhat doubt I’ll be at his set this year.
• I think the enjoyability of this set would largely be contingent on (a) your own personal enjoyment of the mashup style (which I personally think is a hell of a lot of fun when done well but many might feel is gimmicky or lacking in any true artistry), and (b) how well the audience is engaged. Based on my online readings, some Inforoo’ers have come away from his shows having had a blast and some have just been left entirely cold (some have seen him multiple times and had both reactions). I guess it’ll depend on both how hype the audience is (not too worried about that portion) and their overall music IQ to go crazy at the appropriate crazy combinations (that might be dicier, sadly).