But even as a hard-core party scientist, Gillis isn't all hung up on notions of analytical accuracy and absolute truth. "There's no correct way to understand [the music]," he insists. "You know, I understand it on a certain level, and I like it on a certain level. But if someone has a very different reason for liking it, I don't think that's wrong or incorrect. I get that they have a different background in music.

"When I started this project, it was more of an underground sorta thing," he recalls. "Back then, I was really interested in pushing people's buttons. I was a fan of pop music and everything I sampled. But I knew it was sometimes challenging for these underground-style shows to embrace pop music."

Over these past ten twisting years, though, the Girl Talk experience has shifted from a bratty Negativland- and John Oswald-inspired stab at pop-culture pranksterism to a far broader, all-inclusive initiative that's exploded beyond the cool-kid rock bars, landing on stages at midsize theaters, mini-arenas, and major music festivals in a hyperactive frenzy of high-tech LED screens, toilet-paper cannons, and random props — not to mention hipsters, ravers, frat boys, club kids, and radio junkies.

Break outta the underground with Girl Talk.
Paul Sobota
Break outta the underground with Girl Talk.

"The audience now is very exciting to me," Gillis enthuses. "There are some people who are very indie-music-minded and might hate pop music, but they like hearing it manipulated. And then there are other people who are just straight-up music fans and they like knowing all the references.

"It's an appropriation-based project. Some people think about it. And other people don't," he says. "People can deconstruct it on many serious levels. Or people can just go party, watch a ton of confetti fly in the air, and sweat with their friends."

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