Greg Gillis a.k.a. Girl Talk will make a stop in Boulder this coming Friday at The Fox Theater. This will be my first time seeing Girl Talk and have been told that it might get a little crazy. I will be reviewing the show for Antics (which by the way is completely up and running) and will keep you in the mix when it's posted. Girl Talk is also launching his tour as well (turns out we get to see him again on Halloween night here in Denver)
Monday, July 07, 2008
Pittsburgh artist Gregg Gillis (aka Girl Talk) has scrupulously created music from samples for over eight years. His fourth album, Feed the Animals, continues his sonic evolution towards his party-infested live show. While his first album, Secret Diary (2002), was full of purposeful glitches and noise, his subsequent albums, Unstoppable (2004) and the groundbreaking Night Ripper (2006), moved closer and closer towards dance-able mixes of varying genres, often including dozens of audio sources in a stream of juxtaposed hooks. With the fourth Girl Talk album on the Illegal Art label, Gillis steps even closer towards a creation that is centered on pop musicality rather than attention-deficit sample splicing.
Girl Talk has been known to underground audiences for several years, but it wasn't until 2006 that Gillis crossed over and caught the attention of a larger audience. With Rolling Stone, SPIN, Blender, Pitchfork, and even Beck including Night Ripper in their _best albums of 2006_ lists, Girl Talk has gone on to be booked by major festivals (Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Virgin, All Points West, Pitchfork, DEMF, etc.), and solicited for remixes (Beck, Thrill Jockey, Tokyo Police Club, Grizzly Bear, Simian Mobile Disco, Peter Bjorn & John, TeddyBears, and Of Montreal). And with roughly 200 live shows over the last couple of years, Gillis has consistently played larger venues to capacity crowds (every date on his 2007 North American tour with Dan Deacon sold out). A year after the critically acclaimed Night Ripper release, Gillis quit his job as a biomedical engineer and now focuses on music full time. With his newly acquired lifestyle he can now work on music during the week and fly out to play shows on the weekend. With only a laptop in hand, the Girl Talk live show is more portable than a traditional band and has afforded Gillis the opportunity to travel the world with minimal overhead. A visceral culture of audience involvement has also become key to the live Girl Talk experience. Performances oftentimes feature the stage being mobbed with a sweaty mass of dancers who surround Gillis as he triggers samples and create mixes, new and old, out of loops from his hard drive. Such performances have quickly become one of the most entertaining and exhilarating live shows many have experienced as Girl Talk has the extraordinary ability to get the crowd ecstatic and keep the thrill going for the entire concert.
The new album, Feed the Animals, collects the material that was developed over the last two years as part of Gillis' ever-changing live show. With hours of material in hand, it still took months to meticulously edit together the seamless album that combines 300+ samples in 50 minutes. Such fastidious care is what separates Girl Talk from the dime-a-dozen remixes that are posted to the Internet daily. In comparison to the previous release, Gillis has described this new album as expanded, with a larger range of tempos and samples. Yet, at the same time the focus has shifted from technical prowess to the flow and balance of each segment in an effort to successful translate the over-the-top party feel of the Girl Talk live show into album form. Before Girl Talk suddenly reached critical acclaim, a typical show would attract 15-30 people. During those initial years it was an extreme oddity for someone to show up with a laptop and play elaborately constructed mixes of pop samples. In the last couple of years, though, not only have Gillis' live shows exploded, but he is also being recognized for his innovations. From Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips nominating him for the Shortlist Music Prize to Representative Mike Doyle speaking about him to Congress (in relation to copyright laws), Gillis has quickly become a public figure. Emerging from his underground Pittsburgh roots, he is now being lauded as the future of electronic music by techno pioneer Richie Hawtin, while celebrities such as Paris Hilton are vying to dance onstage during a Girl Talk show. Gillis modestly takes it all in stride and has stated in interviews that he will eventually go back to a normal job, all the while reveling in the party while it lasts.
While Girl Talk's music is often categorized alongside mashups, or DJ mixes, it is critical to note how distinct his assemblages are from the conventional mixing of two simultaneous tracks. Gillis' roots lie more in the rich history of sample-based compostion as demonstrated by artists such as Dickie Goodman, Negativland, John Oswald, Steinski, Public Enemy (The Bomb Squad era), and countless others. Rather than taking mashups to an extreme, Girl Talk is more focused on the art of the sampling and developing new tracks that have their own character, and surpass the original elements. Such transformative work is what helps qualify his output as being protected by the _fair use_ principle of U.S. Copyright Law.