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Saturday October 25th 2014

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Sampling the Mashup Madness

by Sarah McCartan

From roof caving, basement scene shakedowns, to full-fledged festival spectaculars, Gregg Gillis of Girl Talk is breaking it down through mashing it up. Over the past several years, he’s been evolving his performance while packing out locations worldwide. This time the madness takes the stage at DeLuna Fest.

Although the scope of the show has changed form as Girl Talk has exploded over the last few years, show attendees can be assured to leave sporting dance induced cramps, soaked in glistening sweat, tangled in toilet paper and, of course, blinded by fluorescent confetti. Yes, all of these things have become crucial parts of the sought after, signature Girl Talk experience. And what an experience it is.

The IN was able to speak with Gillis while he was back home in Pittsburgh, catching a quick breather, taking a momentary timeout before things pick back up to full motion. Gillis considers being home as “a time to catch up on sleep, get mentally back on track and kick it with friends.”

Although his current set is memorized, Gillis is constantly evolving his sets by introducing new bits at a time, allowing for the show to gradually, but continually, develop and be distinct.
“I would say I add from nothing to three minutes of new music each weekend,” Gillis shared.

Many learned through watching a recent episode of the web show “A Day in the Life,” featuring Girl Talk at the Hangout Fest in Alabama, just what a process planning for a show really is.
“It is closer to engineering than it is traditional music,” Gillis said. “I did well with math. It’s a meticulous process. That is what I do in Girl Talk; I manipulate the smallest detail for hours.”

This spurs the question: is there such a thing as a mistake in Girl Talk’s world of mashup artistry? Gillis freely admits he makes mistakes. Some of these mistakes extend to hitting his head on the laptop as a result of the show’s high energy. Most mashup mistakes are minor, small things such as bringing in different parts at different times and often something better comes out of it.

“There are a couple moments,” Gillis said, “that have disrupted the show and left me thinking, ‘that was a fuck-up.’”

Let’s be honest, though. Between all the fans, the confetti and the balloons, who could be the wiser? Besides, mistakes sometimes foster a human quality and infuse a raw aspect into the show.

“I want it to be removed from the idea of things being perfectly in place,” he shared.

This human quality and raw aspect also filter into the dance party. People rushing on stage to shake their stuff evolved organically and now it has become show etiquette. Although it had to become more orchestrated to remain workable for much larger audiences, and much less a free for all, Gillis still wants it to be as raw and unbound as possible, mirroring what it used to be.

“It’s not about getting the hottest girls or most extreme people up on the stage,” he said.

Gillis will be playing a late night set at DeLuna Fest, kicking off night one of the beach party. As far as sampling any other fest acts goes, keep your ears open folks, although Gillis comments, “I would never go out of my way to sample someone I wouldn’t normally.”

He also admits he tries not to sample someone he precedes in a lineup.

“I don’t want to blow their show,” Gillis said.

When asked if he ever samples “guilty pleasures,” Gillis dissolved the very notion.

“I don’t believe in guilty pleasures,” he explained. “I like to buff down walls as much as possible. I sample everything from Miley Cyrus to Sonic Youth to Radiohead.”

Rather than acting as his own movement, Gillis considers himself a member of a movement that he has helped make popular to a certain audience.

“I am excited for a younger generation to take it and run and see where it goes,” he said.

Gillis has plenty of ideas for future musical creations. These future ideas, while still sample-based, would be amidst a different format. For today, and the immediate future, Girl Talk will remain centered on the response to the live show and growing production aspect, but there are no limits for the future.

“I hope it will continue on for the rest of my life in many different shapes and form,” Gillis said. “Maybe eventually only 50 people will give a shit, but that’s ok.” {in}

GIRL TALK at DELUNA FEST
WHEN: 11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m., Friday, Oct. 14
WHERE: Wind Creek Stage