Interview: Girl Talk

David Thorpe chats up Gregg Gillis
By DAVID THORPE  |  November 14, 2008

Riot act: Girl Talk plays a little bit of everything. By Michael Alan Goldberg.

It's been another big year for Gregg Gillis of Girl Talk, the high-powered sample blender who mixes dozens of songs into hyperactive dance tracks. His 2006 album Night Ripper put him on the national stage and hit the best-of lists of a bunch of major publications. This year's Feed the Animals, released online this summer and coming November 11 to ye olde physical CD, has blown up even bigger. There was even a fuckin' painting of him in the New Yorker.

Did you notice there was a fuckin' painting of you in the New Yorker?
Yeah! I saw it, a friend of mine told me that the arm hair was incredibly accurate.

There were some other people with paintings in that issue: it was you, Brad Pitt, Sarah Palin, and Machiavelli.
There we go. Those are my contemporaries right there. Being in the New Yorker is an honor — the painting is classic, I was cracking up when I saw it, I thought it was really funny. I've had some fan art sent to MySpace, but no official paintings in the New Yorker prior to that.

Last we talked, I was saying you had a pretty big year in 2006, but this has been a lot crazier.
Yeah, yeah. I think everything has continually been building. It really hasn't stopped — when Night Ripper hit in 2006, I was anticipating it plateauing off after a few months, but it's just been kind of picking up, picking up, picking up.

With the new album, you did the online Radiohead pay-what-you-want gambit. Did that work out to your satisfaction?
Yeah, I literally had zero goals with releasing the album as far as financial mark or what was going to happen. My main concern with releasing it as "pay what you want" was how seriously people would take it; would they not treat it as legitimate as an actual CD? But we had no problems with that. We released the album and the weekend after, in the next shows, everyone kinda knew the songs already. So, yeah, it was a huge success — I knew there was a group of people out there kind of hitting me up every day, waiting for it, and then they were able to download it for whatever they want basically three days after I was done.

That kind of immediate release must be nice, considering how you work.
It was really cool to put out this album after it being in the works for two years, to be literally coming up with ideas earlier that week, finalizing it with the newest things I was coming up with and then putting it out there. It's really satisfying — it was such a slow process that the day I posted it online was like Christmas morning for me. Seeing the online reaction, everyone getting back to me, that was a day I'll never forget.

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