Girl Talk (musician)

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Girl Talk
Gillis in 2009
Gillis in 2009
Background information
Birth nameGregg Michael Gillis
Born (1981-10-26) October 26, 1981 (age 42)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States[1]
Instrument(s)Laptop, sampler, turntables
Years active2001–present
LabelsIllegal Art, 333 Recordings, SSS Records, Spasticated Records, 12 Apostles

Gregg Michael Gillis (born October 26, 1981), known by the stage name Girl Talk, is an American disc jockey who specializes in mash-ups and digital sampling.[2][3][1] Gillis has released five LPs on the record label Illegal Art and EPs on both 333 and 12 Apostles. He was trained as an engineer.

Early life and education[edit]

Gillis began experimenting with electronic music and sampling while a student at Chartiers Valley High School in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania suburb of Bridgeville. After a few collaborative efforts, he started the solo "Girl Talk" project while studying biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. In school, Gillis focused on tissue engineering.


Gillis states his musical inspirations to have been Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, Just Blaze, Nirvana and Kid606 among others.[4][5][6] He has also stated interest in punk rock, as well as noise musician Merzbow. He stated that he was first introduced to the genre of Plunderphonics by John Oswald.[7] Gillis has also stated that he was always into hip-hop and pop music. As he aged, he started to like older musicians such as The Beatles.[8]


Gillis worked as an engineer, but he quit in May 2007 to focus solely on music.[9]

He produces mash-up remixes, in which he uses often a dozen or more unauthorized samples from different songs to create a mash-up. The New York Times Magazine has called his releases "a lawsuit waiting to happen",[10] a criticism that Gillis has attributed to news media that want "to create controversy where it doesn't really exist", citing fair use as a legal backbone for his sampling practices.[11]

Gillis has given his own different explanations for the origin of his stage name, once saying that it alluded to a Jim Morrison poem[12] and once saying that it alluded to an early Merzbow side project.[13] In 2009, he attributed the name to Tad, the early 1990s SubPop band, based in Seattle.[14] Gillis has said the name sounded like a Disney music teen girl group.[15]

In a 2009 interview with FMLY, Gillis stated:

The name Girl Talk is a reference to many things, products, magazines, books. It's a pop culture phrase. The whole point of choosing the name early on was basically to just stir things up a little within the small scene I was operating from. I came from a more experimental background and there were some very overly serious, borderline academic type electronic musicians. I wanted to pick a name that they would be embarrassed to play with. You know Girl Talk sounded exactly the opposite of a man playing a laptop, so that's what I chose.[16]

Gillis is featured heavily in the 2008 open source documentary RiP!: A Remix Manifesto.

Girl Talk released his fifth LP All Day on November 15, 2010 for free through the Illegal Art website.[17] A U.S. tour in support of All Day began in Gillis's hometown of Pittsburgh with two sold-out shows at the then-recently completed Stage AE concert hall.[18] Since Gillis releases his music under Creative Commons licenses, fans may legally use it in derivative works. Many create mash-up video collages using the samples' original music videos.[19] Filmmaker Jacob Krupnick chose Gillis's full-length album All Day as the soundtrack for Girl Walk//All Day, an extended music video set in New York City.[20]

In 2014, Girl Talk brought out Freeway as a special guest during a show at the Brooklyn Bowl.[21] They announced that they were releasing a collaborative EP together called Broken Ankles.[21] The project was released on April 8, 2014.[22]

Gillis played at the Coachella Festival in 2014. For the first time in one of his live shows, artists performed their vocals over his mash-ups. During the first weekend, he was joined by Too Short, E-40, Juicy J, and Busta Rhymes.[23][24] On the second weekend, he was joined by Freeway, Waka Flocka Flame, Tyga, and Busta Rhymes.[25]

In the years following the release of Broken Ankles, Girl Talk continued to tour and play festivals. He also began to do more production and collaborative work with other artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Young Nudy, T-Pain, Smoke DZA, Bas, and G Perico.[26][27]

Album pricing[edit]

After the success of his album Feed the Animals, for which listeners were asked to pay a price of their choosing, Gillis made all of his other albums similarly available via the Illegal Art website.


Night Ripper was number 34 on Pitchfork's Top 50 Albums of 2006,[28] number 22 on Rolling Stone's Best Albums of 2006,[29] and number 27 on Spin's 40 Best Albums of 2006.[30] In 2007, Gillis was the recipient of a Wired magazine Rave Award.[31]

Feed the Animals was number four on Time's Top 10 Albums of 2008.[32] Rolling Stone gave the album four stars and ranked the album #24 on their Top 50 albums of 2008.[33] Blender rated it the second-best recording/album of 2008,[34] and National Public Radio listeners rated it the 16th best album of the year.[35]

Gillis' hometown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, named December 7, 2010 "Gregg Gillis Day".[36]

Film appearances[edit]

In 2007, Girl Talk appeared in Good Copy Bad Copy, a documentary about the current state of copyright law and remix culture.

In 2008, he appeared as a test case for fair use in Brett Gaylor's RiP!: A Remix Manifesto, a call to overhaul copyright laws. His parents, in one scene, complain to him about his frequent stripping during his performances.


Girl Talk performing in 2006
Girl Talk in Paris, 2007


Collaborative albums[edit]


Compilation appearances[edit]

  • bricolage #1 CD (Illegal Art) – "Killing a Material Girl"  – 3:37
  • Illegal Art 2007 Sampler MP3 (Illegal Art) – "Let's Run This"
  • Circuits of Steel CD (SSS) (2003) – "On Nesbit"
  • Ministry of Shit CD (Spasticated) – "Let's Run This"
  • Love and Circuits CD (Cardboard Records) – "All of the Other Songs Remixed" (under Trey Told 'Em)[37]
  • Circuits of Steel II CD (SSS) (2007) – "Andy Van Slyke Marijuana Sensitivity"



Production credits[edit]

Live performances[edit]

Gillis began producing music with AudioMulch software, which he still uses, played live from a computer. During a live performance, he uses samples and loops to play a set — allowing room for variation throughout the set. His live sets are typically accompanied by video content on stage.[citation needed] He has been known to bring fans on stage to dance during performances.[52]


  1. ^ a b Tough, Paul (October 2009). "Girl Talk Get Naked. Often". GQ. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  2. ^ Lindsay, Cam."The Trouble with Girl Talk", Exclaim!, November 2008.
  3. ^ "Girl Talk Coachella 2009-4". YouTube. April 19, 2009. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  4. ^ Dombal, Ryan (30 August 2006). "Girl Talk". Pitchfork. Condé Nast. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  5. ^ Scarano, Ross. "Interview: Girl Talk Defends Soulja Boy, Offers Advice About Blacking Out in Pittsburgh". Complex. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  6. ^ Bilton, Nick (February 28, 2011). "One on One: Girl Talk, Computer Musician". Retrieved 2015-01-13.
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  8. ^ "Girl Talk Interview (October 2011)". YouTube. September 29, 2011. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  9. ^ "Quit Your Day Job: Girl Talk". Stereogum. Archived from the original on March 15, 2009. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  10. ^ Walker, Rob (July 20, 2008). "Mash-up Model". The New York Times Magazine. p. 15. Retrieved July 30, 2008.
  11. ^ McLendon, Ryan (November 14, 2008). "Interview: Girl Talk a/k/a Gregg Gillis". Village Voice. Archived from the original on July 30, 2010.
  12. ^ Cardace, Sara. "Pants-Off Dance-Off". Screening Room. Retrieved February 10, 2007.
  13. ^ GOTTY (May 23, 2007). "The Art Of Persuasion..." The Smoking Section. Archived from the original on February 26, 2008. Retrieved July 11, 2008.
  14. ^ Hamilton, Ted (30 November 2001). "Girl Talk and Rock". The Cornell Daily Sun. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
  15. ^ Bolton, Nick (28 February 2011). "One on One: Girl Talk, Computer Musician".
  16. ^ "a (girl) talk with gregg gillis". April 30, 2009. Archived from the original on May 10, 2010. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  17. ^ Dombal, Ryan (October 26, 2010). "Girl Talk Dishes on New LP". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  18. ^ Lazar, Zachary (January 6, 2011). "The 373-Hit Wonder". The New York Times. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
  19. ^ Jentzen, Aaron (June 22, 2011). "Girl Talk on YouTube: 10 must-see videos". San Antonio Express-News. Archived from the original on March 11, 2012. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  20. ^ Bloom, Julie (December 6, 2011). "Girl Walk//All Day: A Q&A With the Director". Art Beat Blog, The New York Times. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
  21. ^ a b Krishnamurthy, Sowmya (6 October 2013). "Girl Talk Debuts New Song with Freeway". Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, LLC. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  22. ^ Camp, Zoe (8 April 2014). "Girl Talk and Freeway Release Broken Ankles EP". Pitchfork. Condé Nast. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  23. ^ Minsker, Evan (12 April 2014). "Girl Talk Brought Out Busta Rhymes, E-40, Juicy J During Coachella Set". Pitchfork. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  24. ^ Miller, Jeff. "Coachella 2014: Girl Talk's Main Stage Debut Hits All the Same, Right Notes". Billboard. Billboard. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  25. ^ Woods II, Wes (19 April 2014). "Coachella 2014: Girl Talk surprises second weekend festival-goers". The San Bernardino Sun. MediaNews Group. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  26. ^ Shaffer, Claire (10 February 2020). "Girl Talk Announces First North American Tour in Eight Years". Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  27. ^ a b Breihan, Tom (14 August 2020). "G Perico – "Toolie" (Prod. Girl Talk)". Stereogum. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  28. ^ Staff, Pitchfork (December 19, 2006). "Top 50 Albums of 2006". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  29. ^ Staff, Rolling Stone (December 14, 2006). "Rolling Stone's Best Albums Of '06". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  30. ^ Staff, Spin (January 1, 2007). "The 40 Best Albums of 2006". Spin. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  31. ^ Watercutter, Angela (April 24, 2007). "The 2007 Rave Awards". Wired. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
  32. ^ Tyrangiel, Josh (March 25, 2015). "4. Feed the Animals by Girl Talk – The Top 10 Everything of 2008". Time. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved December 10, 2008.
  33. ^ Staff, Rolling Stone (December 7, 2010). "Rolling Stone's Top 50 Albums Of 2008". Stereogum. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  34. ^ Lapatine, Scott (November 22, 2008). "Blender's Top 33 Of 2008". Stereogum. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  35. ^ "NPR Listeners Pick The Year's Best Music". December 2008. Retrieved August 30, 2009.
  36. ^ Stiernberg, Bonnie (December 7, 2010). "Pittsburgh Celebrates Gregg Gillis Day". Paste Magazine. Archived from the original on December 10, 2010. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  37. ^ Maher, Dave (March 4, 2008). "High Places, Trey Told 'Em, Fuck Buttons on Huge Comp". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on March 6, 2008. Retrieved August 28, 2008.
  38. ^ Joyce, Colin (15 August 2019). "Girl Talk Has Quietly Become a Great Rap Producer". Vice. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  39. ^ Cho, Regina. "Smoke DZA, Wiz Khalifa , Big K.R.I.T., & Curren$y get together for "Santos Party House"". Revolt. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  40. ^ Kreps, Daniel (30 September 2020). "Girl Talk Teams Up With Bas for New Song 'Fallin". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  41. ^ "Beck Song Information – Cellphone's Dead". Retrieved August 28, 2008.
  42. ^ "Non-Tradition (Girl Talk Remix)/It's So Fun (Andrew WK Remix)". The Brooklyn Vegan. June 4, 2009. Retrieved December 12, 2009.
  43. ^ Suarez, Jessica (April 17, 2007). ""Cheer It On" (Trey Told Em remix) [MP3]". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on May 22, 2007. Retrieved August 28, 2008.
  44. ^ iskeith3 (July 19, 2007). "Girl Talk at the Pitchfork Music Festival". YouTube. Retrieved July 11, 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  45. ^ Raymer, Miles (October 13, 2007). "The Thrill Isn't Gone". The Chicago Reader. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved August 18, 2008.
  46. ^ Jentzen, Aaron (June 23, 2011). "Girl Talk finds ways to grow". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  47. ^ Jentzen, Aaron (June 23, 2011). "Girl Talk interview (audio)". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  48. ^ Carey, Jonathan (27 June 2017). "Wiz Khalifa – Steam Room Feat. Chevy Woods (Prod. By Girl Talk)". Hot New Hip Hop. Urbanlinx Media. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  49. ^ Mojica, Nick (3 November 2017). "Don Q Stacks His Money in "Lil Bitch" Video". XXL Magazine. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  50. ^ "Bubble feat. Ty Dolla $ign [Prod by: GIRL TALK]". Punchland. 27 December 2020. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  51. ^ Caraan, Sophie (29 November 2019). "Curren$y & Smoke DZA Link up for New Album 'Prestige Worldwide'". Hypebeast. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
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External links[edit]