Girl Talk

The Set List

By Brian Washburn

Genres have merged, shows have evolved and names have been switched more times than necessary. But the real focal point the music industry has been focusing on for the past (what seems like a century) is illegal downloading along with the unlawful use of artists’ music in any capacity they can sue for.

Whether you agree or disagree with the opinions around the business to sue music lovers for wanting more of what their favorite artists create, this problem will not go away. However, it is unusual, intriguing and pretty ballsy for anyone to deliberately go against the music industry’s warnings, especially when you consider one man’s determination to make the music he sees (and most of the world and critics) as revolutionary and undeniably catchy.

Gregg Gillis is better known as another name, but it is not an alias. He is simply known by his band (er DJ) name Girl Talk.

Girl Talk specializes in taking many, many samples from different mainstream artists, mashing them together and creating a song so unreal you would have thought it was made this way from the very beginning. While this is not the first time a DJ or an artist has mashed together two completely different songs and created a so-called “re-mix,” Girl Talk does it in such a smooth way and creates the ultimate dance extravaganza for those interested in that sort of thing.

I mean come on, who can take the lyrical masterpieces Lil’ Wayne spits out on a daily basis and have the audacity to put them over a classic rock track from the ’70s. Or who has the inclination to take Sinead O’Connor’s classic ultra-awful chick ballad “Nothing Compares 2 U,” and mix in Three Six Mafia’s “I’d Rather Get Some Head” and T.I.’s “What U Know About” (my personal favorite, by the way).

Gillis, a former biomedical engineer quit his profession a few years ago to pursue Girl Talk full time. His immaculate live show (an intense rave involving every member of the crowd, confetti, balloons and occasionally, inflatable rafts that really is a once-in-a-lifetime show) put Gillis’ Girl Talk in the national spot light. According to many in the record industry, Gillis is illegally using samples from artists who would be the ones to sue for such a thing. As the New York Times Magazine put it, “(Girl Talk) is a lawsuit waiting to happen.” But it has not happened yet and it is not stopping Gillis. In fact, some have already seen what the future holds for the music industry and Girl Talk just might be an integral part.

Several magazines listed Girl Talk’s “Feed the Animals” as one of the top 10 albums of the years. The album is not sold through iTunes or any of the gigantic retailers. No, Gillis has taken a page out of Radiohead’s book and is letting fans choose how much they want to pay through, Girl Talks’ record label Web site.

Even without the huge promotional campaign, big-retailer backing or support of the current record giants, Girl Talk has co-headlined such festivals as Lollapalooza, Coachella and sold out thousands of shows around the world.

Gillis might not technically be operating within the confines of the music industry’s laws, but he knows what he is doing. He is taking an experimental formula only proven to work with enormous artists, putting it to the test and succeeding. He might not write lyrics, or riffs or even rhythm sections, but he is an artist. He is expressing his art with the work of those who have already done it before him, while giving it a new twist, beat and reason to breathe in the world again. Take that Lars Ulrich.

Categories: LIVE! In NWA