August 12th, 2014 | Martin Cizmar Music | Posted In: Out of Print

Girl Talk, Without Context

The best bits that couldn’t fit in tomorrow's feature profile of Gregg Gillis.

girltalk-oldAn OOBS Records house party in 1999. Gregg Gillis (Girl Talk) is on the left, Rick Vodicka (DJ Acid Rick) is second from the right. - oobsrecords.tripod.com

Tomorrow's paper features a long profile of Gregg Gillis, the master sample-smasher known as Girl Talk who will preside over the biggest Portland dance party of 2014 this Saturday night. (Get tickets here.)

Unfortunately, it’s not quite long enough.

There are so many telling details that I couldn't sneak in—everything from Gillis’ bare-bones rider (Doritos, Coors Light, Jack Daniels) to memories of the Girl Talk album release show performed in Juggalo facepaint.

Below, without proper context, are some keeper quotes that couldn’t be kept.

Also, special thanks to Portlander Rick Vodicka, who helped frame the story. Vodicka knew Gillis back in high school, where they were part of the same tight-knit experimental music scene in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

Vodicka—formerly known as Satan’s Robot, now DJ Acid Rick—spins around town, including an upcoming Softcore Mutations night at the Lovecraft on Sunday, August 24.

“I like to play jams from the scene that inspired Gregg and myself,” he says. “It is probably one of only a few nights at the Lovecraft where GirlTalk-esque weird music is played.”

Now here’s Gregg...

On the brutal Amazon reviews of his experimental first record, Secret Diary...

“I love the first album, but it was made to be a little confrontational. And it was made to be a difficult listen. I never imagined that the project would be here and this would be the result of it, so people being like, ‘This is horrible, it’s noisy,’ is like someone critiquing Black Sabbath for being heavy….Definitely on Amazon, I do feel a little bad for the people who feel like they got ripped off or something. On the other hand, it is cool that they bought a record that’s so influenced by a world of music that they have no sense about….For me, getting into experimental music, I always wanted to know how far it and weird it could go. And when I heard noise music it was like, ‘Oh my God, there are people who literally just make noise—there’s no rhythm, there’s no melodies, and they’re putting out albums of this—it’s like incredible.’ It was a paradigm shift in my mind. I’m not saying I had that effect on many people, but there may be a few people out there that are like, ‘What the hell? This guy chose to make something that sounded like this?’ and it might just put you on a different path.”

On the downside of everything being available on the Internet...

“Everyone our age knows this: You would buy CDs you weren’t necessarily into and you might get into it. Stuff that was maybe a little more difficult. I had that experience with a lot of stuff. Specifically this band the Boredoms. I saw Kurt Cobain wearing a shirt or something. It was too much for me at the time. I was just like, ‘This is too weird, too far out there.’ But it was one of the few CDs I had, so I just kept listening to it and I grew to love the album—Chocolate Synthesizer—and that’s one of my favorite albums.”

On why it takes so long to make a Girl Talk record...

“I’m still stuck in the mode of wanting to make a masterpiece, something people will listen to all the time. I think a lot of young artists...just think, ‘How can I have good content this month?’....That’s cool to me. I still have these favorite albums that I’ll be listening to for the rest of my life that I think are the perfect album….That’s not what you do if you want to be successful. The easiest way to be successful is to flood the Internet with content, that’s the model right now. I choose to not do that because it’s not about sustaining this….I like that idea of making a great album that people will remember forever, which is a dated concept at this point.”

On clubbing in Pittsburgh’s South Side with his buddy Richard...

“We were definitely out of place but we would straight up go to these clubs in Pittsburgh. We’d go to see a noise show at Manny’s [Theiner’s all-ages arts venue] then we’d go out where you had to wear a collared shirt to get in. I love the culture of it. Some of those people are pieces of shit, and some of those people are cool.”

On dressing up in Juggalo garb for the Unstoppable release party at Cleveland’s Grog Shop in 2004...

“I sincerely appreciate [Insane Clown Posse] on so many levels. But at the same time I don’t want to be a poseur about it. I know some people who are really, really down. I’m down casually. I was thanked in the last ICP album’s liner notes and I’m not sure why—it’s really kind of a mystery.”

On the reaction to Wiz Khalifa day in Pittsburgh, which pissed off lots of people who did not also have a problem with white rapper Mac Miller getting a day...

“It's just weird because that day came out and so many people were up in arms about it. In the comments section of the paper there were hundreds of comments of people being upset. There was all this crazy buried racism when Wiz Khalifa got his own day. Mac Miller got his own day and no one said shit.”

On his favorite beer, Coors Light, “the Gatorade of Beers...”

“I was rocking Bud Light for three years, but then we realized that Bud Light sucks….At one point we had Stella Artois, which I didn’t pick, and I was like, ‘I don’t know if this is really the right vibe for our crew.’ We just decided to for no particular reason that Bud Light was the shit. It was a lifestyle decision less based on actually caring about anything and more based on the arbitrariness of the whole thing. Then I started drinking Bud Light in my real life, really hardcore dedicated…but then [Grunge, from the Pittsburgh underground rap Grand Buffet] made the call. He said, ‘Yo, I think I’m done with this Bud Light shit.’ And I have to give him credit. He was right.”

On the next Girl Talk record...

“When I start an album I always want to make sure that I have a distinct vision of how this one is going to be, like, distinctly different from the last one. I don’t want it to be like The Girl Talk Party To Go series. To me, sonically, they’re all different and stylistically they’re very different. So I’m just not quite there yet with having a vision of how it’s going to be different.”

 
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