Gregg Gillis: Girl Talkin’ about a revolution

Gillis is anything but passive in his approach to programming music for the masses.

Gregg Gillis prides himself on keeping up with the latest trends in music. But that’s basically part of his job description. The music he makes as Girl Talk depends on mashing up the music that other people have made, and the members of his audience depend on him to take whatever they’re currently listening to and pair it with classic songs that they had probably forgotten about.

But in the time since the last Girl Talk album came out in 2010, a lot has changed in the pop landscape. Specifically, a few musical genres have risen from the underground into the mainstream. Sure, people listened to electronic dance music, but it wasn’t called EDM, as it is becoming more widely known, and it certainly wasn’t filling the big arenas that it has been lately. And in November of 2010, when Girl Talk’s “All Day” came out, Skrillex’s breakthrough EP, “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” had only been out for a few weeks.

But just because you can dance to all of this music does not mean you should lump Girl Talk in with dubstep and EDM.

“I’m happy to witness the shift, but I’ve still worked hard to be isolated,” says Gillis. “I’ve always wanted to think where what I’m doing is electronic music, it’s kind of presented more like a traditional show where there’s a beginning and end, and doesn’t last all night.”

Indeed a Girl Talk show is an event, one which seems violently opposed to the idea of bobbing on one beat for a prolonged period of time. It’s difficult to describe the amount of samples he uses and the rate at which he uses them without using the term ADHD. But that kind of hyperactive energy just can’t sustain itself all night. Gillis says he finds as the EDM movement gets bigger that people are surprised that he’s not interested in standing up and dancing in front of his computer for hours on end.

 ”Even now, people come up to me during the shows and think that I need to be playing for like five hours or something, because of this new thing and no, that’s very far from what I want to do and it’s a different world,” he says. “They’re familiar with that and that’s what they’re expecting of electronic music, and that’s never been anything I’ve wanted to go for and I don’t plan on necessarily jumping on that either.”

Causing widespread panic

The last time Gillis played the Pavilion, he was asked to open for Widespread Panic. He took up the jammy band on the invitation and caused some widespread panic of his own that still comes up every time he plays Boston.

“One girl actually pissed herself, and I think that’s why the show was stopped,” he says. “That night actually, on the microphone, I felt bad because some people actually paid to come see the show and I was supposed to do two sets and I remember there were very few people in there because it happened early, so I felt comfortable giving out my phone number over the microphone to the crowd. I was like, ‘Hey if you want to hit me up the next time I’m coming through the area…’ There’s still a chance whenever I come through the Boston area that I would get a handful of phone calls or texts from people who were at the show who are looking for a guest list spot. … I really appreciate anyone who came to that show, it still cracks me up that it’s still in effect like five to six years later.”

If you go

Girl Talk
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Bank of America Pavilion
290 Northern Ave., Boston
$20-$25, 800-745-3000


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