Concerts

Girl Talk Wants You to "Sweat, Scream, and Go Crazy" at Revolution Live

Girl Talk stops at Revolution Live on December 10.
Girl Talk stops at Revolution Live on December 10. Photo by Joey Kennedy
Sometimes, a melody or rhythm just sends you. Other nights, maybe it’s the alcohol. Whatever the cause, we all have those nights out attending live music shows when we wish we could just climb on stage to dance and sing our hearts out along with the performers.

Greg Gillis, the Pittsburgh-based producer who records and performs as Girl Talk, understands this urge, so you might be plucked onstage from the front row when Girl Talk performs at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, December 10. Los Angeles-based rapper Hugh Augustine opens the show.

“Audience members getting up on stage has been a core part of the show dating back to ‘06 or ‘07. Back in the day, when we’d play smaller places, I’d demand no barricade. Once shows got bigger, it got too chaotic, so now we pick enthusiastic people in the front row to come onstage,” Gillis says.

Girl Talk is touring the southeast this month in support of Full Court Press, a collaboration among Gillis and rappers Wiz Khalifa, Big K.R.I.T., and Smoke DZA, released this spring on Asylum/Taylor Gang. The album is the result of a three-day studio session among old friends, and live audiences will hear new mixes from the Full Court Press sessions. They’ll also hear some gems from Girl Talk's 2006 breakout Nightripper and follow-up Feed the Animals, as well as some new material, like a recent remix of Beyoncé’s “Break My Soul.”

“The energy and style of the show are related to what’s it been for years. People come out to dance, and it’s high energy,” Gillis says. “Bits and pieces of Full Court Press are remixed with older stuff, and I do newer mashups from current pop music. It’s been fun putting this together. It feels like a retrospective. It’s 20 years of material.”

With Nightripper, Gillis proved both his ear for isolating the most iconic sound bites from songs and his precision in mashing them up to create genreless club bangers. Who else would think to pair the explicit whispers of the Ying Yang Twins with the instantly recognizable string melody of the Verve’s '90s alt-rock masterpiece “Bittersweet Symphony"? Gillis’ intricate production might remind some of a meticulous scientist at work, and that was exactly the case when he began creating music under the moniker Girl Talk.

Girl Talk was born about two decades ago while Gillis was studying biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The scientific methods he learned during this time — as well as the treasured hip-hop and dance music from his youth — influenced his approach to music.

“Aphex Twin and Squarepusher have influenced me. I love the detail of it. Every second is different than the last. Growing up, I listened to rap and hip-hop, like Public Enemy and the Bomb Squad, whose music is very detailed. I like this idea,” he says. “I was working a day job doing meticulous engineering work while creating Nightripper. When I applied those sorts of practices to music, it’s like making an elaborate puzzle. There’s something satisfying about seeing those pieces come together.”
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Girl Talk collaborated with rappers Wiz Khalifa, Big K.R.I.T., and Smoke DZA to produce Full Court Press.
Photo by Braden Walker
Over the last several years, Gillis has focused on production work for rap artists, including T-Pain, Tory Lanez, Young Nudy, Freeway, and the three artists who appear on Full Court Press, proving his production prowess exceeds the mashup genre that defined a certain chunk of the aughts.

“I never wanted to necessarily be pegged as the mashup guy. There is endless brilliant music made in that style, but in 2010, after All Day, I wanted to grow a bit and do something different. I wanted to produce for someone else but make it sample-based. I did Broken Ankles in 2014 with the artist Freeway. From there, I kept producing,” Gillis says. “It’s fun to get in the studio with other people after years of making music in my apartment on my own.”

Creating Full Court Press with Wiz Khalifa, Big K.R.I.T., and Smoke DZA felt like a joyful reunion among old friends for Gillis. He was motivated to explore new terrain with his collaborators in the studio.

“I had the idea for all four of us to get together. I never thought it would happen with everyone having different management, but everyone was down, so we got together for three days in L.A. That’s where the bulk of it was recorded,” he recalls. “With these artists, I’ve worked with them all, and they all had history with each other — it felt like old friends hanging out. The records were made effortlessly. It was a good time.”

Speaking of good times, Gillis says having the opportunity to complete a tour he originally planned for 2020 — which means sharing new music and reconnecting with live audiences once again — feels extra special as 2022 comes to a close.

“The audience is so important to each night. The energy in the room is a core part of what motivates me to make new music,” he says. “Especially with the pandemic, people are appreciating things that maybe they took for granted. Getting to come out and talk to people in the audience who haven’t gotten to get out the house much, and now they’re getting to sweat, scream, and go crazy — I’m appreciating it now more than I ever have.”

Girl Talk. With Hugh Augustine. 7 p.m. Saturday, December 10, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; jointherevolution.net. Tickets cost $28 via ticketmaster.com.
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Tyler Francischine is a writer, event planner, and audiophile with dual passions for creating community engagement and telling stories that sing in a reader’s mind. Her work has been featured in American Way, Melted Magazine, and the Huffington Post.

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