Interview + Ticket Giveaway | Girl Talk
Recently, we had a chance to chat with Greg Gillis (aka Girl Talk) about his interest in yoga, eco-friendly beliefs, nature, and ok...some music!
After you read the interview below, check out the contest we have running here. We are giving away 4 music tickets for Saturday, July 30th at WL California and a chance to go backstage and meet Girl Talk after his performance! You gotta be in it to win it, and you snooze...you lose - contest details are here.
You performed at our inaugural Wanderlust festival in 2009. We're psyched to have you back this year! What's your most fond memory from that experience?
I had a good time! The Fire and Ice Dinner was fantastic. I love doing festivals where I feel like a slight outsider in some way...when there's not so much electronic music it's always exciting, and a challenge. It was perfect on that level, where I felt I stood out, and the crowd was open minded enough to get it. It was really refreshing.
Awesome! So would you say that you are a yogi?
I wouldn't say so. Theoretically I am into it, but I just haven't gotten there. My tour manager does it a bit and so do some of my friends, but I haven't quite ventured into it yet.
Maybe you can drop into a class this year! Nature is also a huge part of Wanderlust. Actually, your hometown, Pittsburgh, has more trees per capita than any other major city in the world! Do you feel any sort of close connection with nature?
Really? That's interesting. I live right outside of the city and it can feel like you're in the middle of a forest. I always loved that about Pittsburgh â€“ it's very nice hybrid. I was just talking about that with some friends recently. There are so many great parks, and it's cool to take my dog out to run around. I grew up in the South Hills, where it's more suburban. I consider myself more of a city person though; I don't go hiking or do outdoorsy things really, but I definitely appreciate nature.
I understand while your music was starting to become popular, you were working full time as a biomedical engineer. What was it like balancing such a drastically different double life? And how did you break the news to your boss when you eventually quit to focus on music?
Well there was definitely a big jump there. I had been making music since 2000, and started working that job in 2006. At the time, music was just a hobby for me. Doing shows was always just something fun; I put time and energy into it, but never considered it a job or career. When I got that job, I would do one show a month or so â€“ not too far (from Pittsburgh); I'd play New York or Cincinnati, smaller shows that friends put on. It wasn't a big deal at all.
Then in the summer of 2006, things started to pick up when I put out a record and people really took to it. People on the internet started to talk... Before I knew it I had a booking agent and my weekends started to fill up. And then there would be checks for me. When I started to get paid for these shows, it seemed like nothing to go out and play every weekend.
I basically went a year without having a single day off, running to the airport, repeat, every night. It got crazy â€“ I'd be going to London on a Saturday and getting back to work by Monday. My bosses didn't know about it...
By 2007 I had done a few tours and had used up all of my vacation time. I was getting offers to tour overseas - Australia and Europe. It was a mind-blowing concept to make the decision to quit. When I left the job, I didn't even tell my bosses about Girl Talk. I didn't want to leave on weird terms; didn't want them to think I was a crazy liar or something. I told them I was going to travel the world to find myself (which was kind of true), and left the music out of it. They eventually found out.
I still hear from some of those guys on Twitter and Facebook. It's funny - it was a hard thing to explain because I'm not, like, a drummer or guitar player. I remix pop songs and get wild on stage...
That's incredible. It's hard to imagine not dancing to your insane mash-ups! Was it ever tough to get the crowd moving when you first started performing live?
Yeah...In the early years shows were hit or miss. It didn't work for everyone. When you show up at a rock club, playing Madonna remixes and tearing clothes off, people can be so-so about it. Sometimes it was cool, sometimes more confrontational. It helped to have friends at shows.
I'm constantly trying to frame the old days and remember what it was like - sometimes a few people would be dancing and sometimes the whole crowd would just be still and stare. There was a certain tension - one guy would be buggin' out, while the rest had their arms folded. There were many dead shows. I played at least 50 shows to 5 or less people.
The earliest music I did was much different. The project has evolved a lot over the years. My first record is pretty abrasive and hard to listen to. I was always a fan of laptop music, but I wanted to kind of put my foot out there â€“ make it a goal to be fun and entertaining. Like a tiny version of a KISS show!
Well these days for your performances, you've had a crew people onstage shooting toilet paper, confetti, balloons, etc. out into the crowd. Since Wanderlust is focused on being green/eco-friendlyâ€š might you have any more of 'earth-friendly' props in mind? Or maybe we'll all just re-use that TP...
Well we actually use biodegradable confetti at all of our shows! It's expensive, but worth it. It all disintegrates into the earth and it's not harmful. I think often times launching off some rolls of toilet paper is pretty minimal damage compared to what else goes on out there. It really creates an interesting live show, and it's a pretty easy clean-up. Haha yeah, if anyone wants to re-use it â€“ it's clean if you catch it!