The Festive Season
Think you know your way around a summer festival? Think again
GIRL TALK TALKS
Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, has played over 89 festivals, incited dance riots, sampled thousands of tracks and inspired more flailing limbs from his laptop than just about any DJ. His rapidly shifting party tracks are a mainstay of the main stage.
By Jaime Lowe
What's the most eccentric festival you've played?
I think the weirdest festival experience was at Horns N Halos, which was an event curated by Korn outside of LA. There were two main stages, and probably 30 makeshift stages and the bands playing on these stages had to sell a certain amount of tickets to perform. People were just loading gear everywhere. You couldn't walk 10 feet without running into someone carrying equipment. Endless weird bands, endless weird vibes.
I imagine you've seen a lot of bizarre things...what are some of the most memorable?
I always have audience members come up and dance on stage. At Coachella 2007, Paris Hilton jumped up there to do her thing. That was one of my first festival performances, and it was a surreal moment. Ron Jeremy got kicked off stage while I was playing another time.
Your music and performance is geared toward huge, high-energy crowds, what does it feel like to play to an audience that responds with such passion and fervor?
I put together my music in a meticulous and slow manner. I'm typically alone during this process. So it's very exciting to be able to get on stage, let loose, and watch the reaction. I always want to take the energy further than the audience if possible. I treat it like a battle. When they respond, I want to respond more.
Audience members often swarm the stage...have you ever been nervous?
At Bonnaroo 2009, there were way too few security guards, and the audience overtook the stage. It was a constant stream of people until the stage was completely filled — climbing on my table, on the speakers, on me, everywhere. Cables were getting unplugged. Drinks were being thrown. It was chaos.
What is your favorite series of ten samples to play now?
I've been liking a sequence based around samples of DJ Khaled's "I'm on One," Outkast's "Bombs over Baghdad," Weezer's "El Scorcho," Debbie Gibson's "Only in my Dreams," Big Daddy Kane's "Raw," The Cure's "Just like Heaven," Trill-ville's "Neva Eva," Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," Beyonce's "Countdown," and Busta Rhyme's verse on "Look at Me Now."
What advice would you give to festival go-ers?
Check out the bands you want to see. Enjoy the atmosphere. You're at a giant party, act like it.
Do you ever sneak onto other stages?
I always try to get out there and take in the festivals. It's the best part of doing them. As soon as you cross the line into the actual crowd, that's when the fun begins. At the larger festivals, my friends and I will always go out into the campground area, walk around, check out the scene. That's where the real party's at.
What is your strategy for navigating big festivals?
Getting lost is part of the experience.
What music do you listen to when you're traveling?
Current rap mixtapes from Datpiff or albums of material I'm thinking of sampling. I'm always looking for new material.
What acts, dead or alive, would you have headline?
Michael Jackson, Nirvana, Notorius B.I.G., 2Pac, The Beatles, James Brown, Brainiac, Queen, Soulja Slim and Beethoven.