Girl Talk is inescapable.

When Gregg Gillis burst onto the scene with 2006's Night Ripper, no one really knew what to think. After all, illegal mashups had floated around for years immediately after the advent of Napster, but no one would have figured a Biomedical Engineering student at Cave Western Reserve would wind up redefining what the very definition of the phrase "mashup" even was. Night Ripper (following two similarly-styled but more glitch-oriented releases) traffic-jammed the whole of popular music into one non-stop party disc, challenging listeners beyond the mere "spot that song" guessing game and instead tearing down the rock and rap monoliths that have so dotted the past few decades, all in the name of fun. As if his acclaim (and insane live shows) weren't enough, Gillis then decided to release Feed the Animals -- his latest sample-heavy masterpiece -- in a Radiohead-styled "pay what you want" format only eight days after he finished mastering it. At the rate he's going now (and already an in-demand remixer), Gillis shows no signs of slowing down, except -- of course -- for the occasional detour into the land of interviews. Gillis graciously sat down with Evcat for yet another exciting Globecat one-on-one, and if you thought he was already manic, just wait 'til you hear what he did at his high school talent show ...


>> In retrospect, there really wasn't a huge wait between Night Ripper and Feed the Animals -- but that's also because you were touring like a madman at the time. For an approach that's so sample-based, what is about touring that you find so inspiring?

It was actually a little over two years between Feed the Animals and Night Ripper. That seems like a relatively large chunk of time between albums to me. I work slowly. I like ideas to develop over time. The past two albums have basically been an attempt to make a cohesive whole out of a bunch of tiny ideas. I always feel the need to have some new material to work with in the live setting, just a few small elements each week. Because of this, the live show is constantly evolving. I get a chance to see how crowds react to the new ideas, and this influences how I'll perform or the content of the next show. After a certain amount of time, I can take a step back and say "OK, I have enough material now that I feel that I could make a cool album out of it." Then, I'll start the editting process, and that's usually a long process as well. For the last album, it took about 6 months.

>> Much has been made about the release format you chose for Feed the Animals, yet what I found most interesting was that for those who selected the $0.00 option, there was a list on the screen that asked why people were choosing to get your work for free, with reasons ranging from [and I paraphrase] "I'm in the media" to "I don't believe in paying for sample-based music". Why did you create this options in the first place, and what did you learn from them?

Illegal Art, the label who is releasing the album, and I both thought it'd be interesting to get a gauge of why people weren't paying. We weren't the first people to do the "pay what you want" model, but it's still novel enough that we were kind of treating it like a social experiment. I don't have the exact stats on me, but I think most people who didn't pay said it was because they were either going to pay later or didn't have the money. The least popular answer was "I don't value music made from sampling," but that was also the most specific option. "I don't like Girl Talk" even got more clicks than that one. Our set up was pretty raw, so we can't really treat the response data as scientific or anything like that.

>> With your remixes, live shows, and fourth (!) album just out, where do you see yourself taking the Girl Talk sound into next?

I have no idea! After I finish an album, I typically don't know where I'm heading. I mean, there's already a bunch of new material that I'm experimenting with live, but I have no idea what shape that will take down the road. I want to do some collaboration work, which I haven't done much of in the past. I want to work with Dan Deacon and Skymall on separate projects. I'd love to get away from dance-related music at some point, but I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet.

>> Has the notion ever emerged of doing a production job for another artist?

Yeah. That could be interesting at some point, but right now, I definitely wouldn't want to focus on anything like that. If I could keep my sample-based style, then that would be great, but for most artists, there would most likely be sample clearance concerns. In general though, I'm content doing music the way I've been doing it for the past 8 years.

>> Plain and simple: with tastes as wildly eclectic as yours, whose music do you find the most inspiring?

I'm inspired by everything I sample. I get pumped everytime I turn on the radio. I can't really isolate anything specific, there's too much.

>> Finally: so far in your career, what's been your biggest regret and -- conversely -- what's been your proudest accomplishment?

I honestly have no regrets in my musical life. My proudest accomplishment is when I was in high school, and my band, called The Joysticks Battle The Scan Feed Relay To Your Skull, played the talent show. We were a noise band and were all about smashing things and lighting off fireworks at the audience. Our junior year, we were kicked out of the talent show during rehersals because our act was a little too over-the-top for the organizers. The next year, we faked a more subtle performance during the rehersals, and there were new organizers so they didn't know what happened the year before. They let us into the show. We were pretty infamous in our school and in the local Pittsburgh music scene, so we drew a lot of people to the show who assumed we were going to go crazy and do our typical style show. We got on stage in radiation suits, stood completely still, and had the lighting guy just run a steady strobe on us. We played a noise loop that was about 3 seconds long on repeat. It was actually on cassette, and we were prepared to play for one hour. After about 10 minutes, the entire audience was heading for the exit. The talent show organizers ended up cutting the power in the entire auditorium to stop us and in the process, they broke the PA system. The rest of the show was canceled.


Visit the Illegal Art website.