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Monday, September 25, 2023

Girl Talk is a sellout.

No, he hasn't sold his music for car commercials or various steak houses, nor has he whored his soul to megacorporations.

Girl Talk has merely sold all 450 tickets to his upcoming show in Gainesville.

Gregg Gillis, Girl Talk, the messiah of mash-up - whatever you want to call him - will be bringing his aural orgy of '70s one-hit-wonders, '80s hip-hop and '90s pop to Common Grounds on Jan. 30.


Girltalk interview

Girltalk's tops

All the tickets have been gone for almost a week and the outside bar will be closed to passersby.

"It seems insane that any show would sell out in advance, and I'm completely honored by that," Gillis said in a phone interview. "I can't even really think of a band that I would buy an advanced ticket for."

So what is it about the biomedical-engineer-turned-musician Gillis that sells so many tickets?

Smash Your Head

It's impossible to talk about Gillis's sample-based music without also addressing his live performances

Girl Talk shows have proven to be a very sweaty, cathartic and altogether exhausting experience, but not just for the energetic Gillis.

Because he is the only performer, audience members take it upon themselves to dance vigorously, often on stage with him, as he performs with his laptop.

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"When I'm playing a gig - it's really nerdy - but I have to click the mouse literally every 15 seconds to keep up with it," Gillis said.

It's not like he just sits there like a computer geek while everyone else gets down. He also slams and jams, occasionally removing his clothing all the way down to his underwear.

Regarding his shows, he may have put it best: "body parts everywhere" and "chaos."

Once Again

Gillis made his last appearance in Gainesville fall 2006, while touring in support of "Night Ripper," his breakthrough album released in the same year.

While he hasn't released any full-length mash-up material since then, his persistent touring has given him a chance to improve the content of his live act.

He said his set will be longer and almost all of the content of his performance will be new.

"Musically, it's a whole new mix and every night is very different as to what I'm going to experiment with and what I choose to play," he said. "Compared to a year and a half ago, I think a lot of the shows these days are pretty insane just as far as the give and take between me and the audience goes. That's a good thing, from my perspective."

Common Grounds bar manager, Jeremy Murdoch, hopes things will be calmer though.

"We prefer to not have people dancing on the stage," he said," but it's not something that we're going to be that concerned about."

That's My DJ

Although he had two other albums, Girl Talk's rise to "I'm-not-a-DJ" stardom didn't begin until the press picked up "Night Ripper," his third release.

He never intended for the album to become as big as it did. His idea of success was for "a couple people come out to my show to be entertained and for a couple people to buy a CD," he said.

But Gillis was successful enough to able quit his job in June as a biomedical engineer and pursue music full-time.

"When all the press hit for 'Night Ripper,' it was great for me and I've really enjoyed it, but at the same time it took me a really long time to quit the job because I never considered this something that would make money or that I could quit a job over," he said. "I had a hard time stomaching the fact that, 'Okay, I'm going to quit this engineering job that I went to school for and play this laptop live and party full time."

Minute by Minute

With "Night Ripper" almost a year behind him, Gillis is now working on his next album.

"I literally have two minutes of it done," he said.

He does have a tentative title though: "Feed the Animals."

The idea came from his 2007 tour with Dan Deacon when Gillis would release inflatable props into the crowd before he went on. The audience would "swallow them up … like animals."

"We were joking about how me playing music was the equivalent of feeding these party animals that need this music to have a good time for one evening," he said.

Although he hasn't set a release date, Gillis hopes to have the album done by April. He said it will be an extension of his current live show.

"I know the people who pay money and come out to see the shows are going to enjoy [the new album]," he said. "It's already been tested [at the shows]."

Peak Out

Having established himself has a full-time musician, Gillis is now simply going with the flow in his newfound success.

"Now I'm kind of just riding this wave," he said. "[A music career] is a turning point in my life, but I don't think it's really changing much."

He said he's just busier and working on music more intensely, but even if "Night Ripper" hadn't blown up, he would still be working on an album. He just wouldn't be making as much or playing as many shows.

One thing that has changed however, much to own Gillis's surprise, is the attention he's getting from some celebrities and musicians, like rapper Big Boi.

"The celebrities are just fun and interesting," he said. "Big Boi - it was a complete honor for him to come out to the show in Atlanta, so I really enjoyed talking to him for a bit."

"Paris Hilton is kind of like, 'Well, that's interesting.' It's like going to see the Statue of Liberty, where you can see it on TV but it's nice to check it out in person."

Give and Go

While Gillis is optimistic for his future music, he is already at peace with what he's achieved. Even if things do go south for him in the future, he is just fine with it.

"If it would tank and people all of the sudden would just decide that everyone hated me immediately, and no one wanted to come to the shows anymore, I would be perfectly satisfied and say 'that was a good run,'" he said. "I had that insane year and experienced all these crazy things."

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