We've always assumed that Gregg Gillis, the mash-up master more commonly known as Girl Talk, would be a pretty cool guy to hang out with. Not only does he have the art of throwing a dance party down to a science (literally the former engineer triggers hundred of samples, loops, and beats live on this laptop at each show), his taste in music which ranges from '80s classics, to tunes from the Clueless soundtrack, to great old school hip-hop suggests that he's as obsessed with all things pop culture as we are. We sat down with Gregg before his performance at the Catalpa NYC festival, and discussed everything from the evolution of his Girl Talk sweatsuit ensemble, to the craziest thing he's seen a fan wear to his show (spoiler alert: it's nothing). Read on for all of the fun!
One of our favorite things about your performances is the element of nostalgia. Is there an era of pop culture or music that brings particularly great memories back to you?
Yeah, I feel like its like this for most people its when I was a teenager in the 90s. Nirvana is my favorite band, and then rap like Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Public Enemy, and that whole era. I love going back and exploring every era of music and I like them in different ways, but I think what hits you when youre 12 and 13 when youre just open and not too cynical or anything at that point it can hit you in a sincere way, in a way thats hard to be matched for the rest of your life.
Obviously you have an encyclopedic knowledge of music, but are there any other areas of pop culture that youre really into?
I love all pop culture I saw The Dark Knight Rises last night, and I go to the movies once a week almost. I like movies on the same level as I like music and I try to absorb as much as possible so it ranges from, like, checking out the Katy Perry movie to getting into the classic 70s horror films. I do like TV even though I dont watch much of it, so I do little bits and pieces. TV like takes a lot of time, so Ill pick up a series every six months or something.
Do you spend a lot of time on the Internet?
For me its a weird thing because I technically work on the computer on music, and so at any given moment I can go check my e-mail or look on Facebook or whatever. I really love WordStarHipHop.com where they release all the new rap videos, so I just click refresh all day long. I like watching interviews with people, and theres an aspect of the music that I do where I dont have to hear anything, its visual, and Im quantitizing the audio, so I listen to other music while Im doing it. I love listening to interviews, with rappers specifically; its what occupies most of my day. So, yeah, Im pretty obsessed.
Youve developed this signature look you always come onstage in a hoodie and sweatpants. How did this style come to be?
I think it was pretty much function over form I am a fan of sweatpants, and I wear them all the time, but Im never like, This look is awesome! In the early days, there were some different eras of outfits before I kind of got going on this one.
In the early days the performances were leaning a little bit more towards ridiculous, so Id wear more of a costume, like an extravagant showman maybe a workout-ish theme, but more glammed-out, more extravagant. Then for a while, I had a day job, and I thought it was funny to just come from my day job and perform in what I was wearing that day, like a button-down shirt tucked into dress pants.
Now that Im touring a lot, on the road I like to just perform and get rid of the clothes, because when they sit in your bag all wet its a problem. So, this has become the easiest thing to wear. The shows are very athletic for me and I kind of got going on it its something I didnt really think about that much. All of a sudden, Id been wearing the same thing for five years. I spend thousands of dollars on Hanes.com.
Has anyones look at your show ever really caught your attention? Whats the most outrageous thing youve seen?
People know that you can get onstage with me thats an aspect of the show so people dress up thinking that will help them, and it does. My friends will go and grab people, so if there is someone who catches their eye, that will go down. So costumes are heavy at the show, and it gets a little blurry between whats an outfit and whats a costume. Ive seen it all as far as outfits and stuff like that goes. Id say what catches my eye is nudity, which happens from time to time. I feel like you know when you see nudity at a show, thats when its reaching a really legitimate level. When youre at a concert and theres boobs being flashed its a real concert.
Over the years performing as Girl Talk, have you noticed any songs that are your secret weapon no matter where you are in the world, people go nuts?
I did a remix of Kelly Clarksons Since U Been Gone about four years ago, and that was one that has never really left my set everything else has changed but that. Ive literally played it at 90 percent of the shows for the past four years, and thats kind of my go-to. It feels like Im always debating with myself, should I just get rid of it? I have a lot of other stuff I could put in there, but theres just something about it. The sets always changing but theres that thing its become such a tradition that I feel weird getting rid of it.
Any chance well ever hear "Call Me Maybe" at a Girl Talk show?
I recently acquired the a capella version, so I have been fooling around with it. I was actually working towards doing something with it tonight, but Im not there yet. I have a few options, a few ideas I do love the song, I think its wonderful. I like music like that, its such a "white chick" song. Its like Vanessa Carleton "A Thousand Miles," its a great pop tune. There are always benchmarks and its just fun when one of these songs comes out thats just everywhere people hate it and love it. Thats true pop. Not many songs can reach that level, but "Call Me Maybe" definitely went there.