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Girl Talk, Laptop Producer

Celebrating 10-plus years of sample-obsessed production and relentless touring, Gregg Gillis returns with All Day, his fifth album as Girl Talk, and his most epic, densely layered, and meticulously composed musical statement to date. Continuing the saga from the previously acclaimed albums, Night Ripper and Feed The Animals, Gillis lays down a more diverse range of samples to unfold a larger dynamic between slower transitions and extreme cut-ups. With the grand intent of creating the most insane and complex pop collage album ever heard, large catalogs of both blatantly appropriated melodies and blasts of unrecognizable fragments were assembled for the ultimate Girl Talk record (clocking in at 71 minutes and 372 samples).

*Interview is from 2007

Why do you do what you do? I got really into music when I bought my first Bel Biv Devoe cassette in 2nd grade. I kept diving deeper into new music as I could find it. I was blown away when I discovered noise music at around 14 years old. I was interested in the concept and execution of avant-garde electronic music and performance. This is when I started my first band. A couple years later, I started working with cutting up audio tapes, damaging CD’s and blending sounds together with 4-track recorders. My band would do performances where we would smash old computers and light off fireworks at the crowd while working with various electronic noisemakers and sometimes incorporating live versions of the collage work we did. I loved the juxtaposition of noise and pop. I wanted to continue to explore sound collage when I got my first laptop, and that’s when I started the Girl Talk project. Over the years, it’s evolved into what’s happening now. I love music. This is the way I make it.

Who is Girl Talk?
I’m a 26 year old man who is pumped about most things.

My first impression of you was Mash-up and DJ. Now that I have seen your show and I have learned more about you and what you do up there. I see your albums in a new light, I’ve realized I was wrong on both accounts. I’m sure you get this quite a bit, but as someone who grew up spinning records, you’re not necessarily a DJ, so what are you?
I’m a laptop producer. I never wanted to be a DJ in the traditional sense. I’ve never tried to beat match records. What I’m doing now is an accessible extension of my high school band. It’s electronic music that is based around using samples. I don’t want to play songs. I want to make songs. The people I look up to, like The Bomb Squad, John Oswald, Negativland, and Kid 606, were never considered DJ’s even though they often worked primarily with pre-existing media.

I like that term – “Pre-existing media.”

During your show I couldn’t help but to think “What’s he doing up there on that laptop?” So, an inquiring mind would love to know, if you don’t mind – what goes on up there?
It’s all live sample triggering. I work with a program called Audiomulch. I have hundreds of loops in front of me, and I mix and match them in real time. Every part of the collage is as isolated as possible. So there will be individual loops with kick drums, melodies, hi hats, vocals, and so on. I typically have many of the arrangements thought out beforehand because I don’t want the live show to be an exercise in improvisation. I basically perform audio collages live. I can cut up and tweak things in real time. If I ever walk away from the computer or get in the crowd, the same material will loop over and over. There will be no progress. Even when you hear a song melody go from part A to B of the same song, I’m muting part A and triggering part B live. There’s usually between 2 and 10 loops playing at any given time. I probably play, mute, or manipulate a different loop at least every 15 seconds of the set.

What do you think of robots?
I’m cool with them. Terminator 2 is one of the best movies ever.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
When I was little, like in grade school, I would do college basketball half time shows where I’d do complicated dribbling routines.

Which bear is best?
All bears rule.