Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” playing over the top of Three 6 Mafia’s “I’d Rather.” Nirvana playing simultaneously with Salt N Pepa. A mashup of songs from as long ago as the 1960s with some just released to the radio. This is what you can expect when turntablist Girl Talk comes to the McDonald Theatre on Sept. 16.

With his eclectic mixes and unorthodox mashing of music, Gregg Gillis, better known as Girl Talk, has made a name for himself in the world of digital sampling and popular music. This month’s show will be his debut in Eugene. “Starting in Eugene, it’s kind of a six-day tour of Northwest sort of area,” he said. “I’m pumped.”

Gillis has put out four records to date, his most recent titled “Feed the Animals.” In the album he uses over 300 samples in more than 50 minutes of music. “It’s a very slow process for me,” he said. “I take a lot of time coming up with different ideas and arrangements, how things flow into another. It is just a big, giant collage of puzzle pieces.”

Some might call Gillis’ use of copyrighted works by other artists a lawsuit waiting to happen. Gillis, though, is certain his method of digital sampling is legal. “I think for a lot of people who aren’t necessarily involved in that world automatically assume sampling is illegal,” he said. He cites the Fair Use Doctrine in U.S. copyright law, which allows sampling without permission if the product of the sample is sufficiently transformative, as well as provisions under the law that allows the use of copyrighted work where it does not affect the original economically. “I believe my work would fall under fair use,” Gillis said. “I don’t believe my work is any competition to the source material.”

Gillis said Eugene is especially attractive to him as a venue because of the special vibe he believes smaller communities bring, as opposed to that of big cities. “I do like playing in smaller cities. People are very appreciative that you are coming there; the slightly smaller cities or college towns or more obscure place,” he said. “I’m into that as opposed to any sort of big city attitude of ‘been there, done that’ sort of thing.”

The Girl Talk solo project, which is now in its ninth year, has been slowly gaining popularity and the name alone is reason to raise an eyebrow. Gillis started out as a high school boy mixing music on his laptop. He said many musicians of that ilk start out under glitchy monickers such as “[email protected] There is just a very nonhuman aesthetic to it. I kind of wanted to counteract that, have a project where I was playing a computer and it was very pop-based,” he said. “I wanted a name that sounded not like a guy playing a computer at all.”

His name compliments his music, which is innovative and unexpected. Gillis enjoys the obstacle that his name has created in terms of gaining new audience. “I think to get into a band with a name such as Girl Talk, it is like a hurdle for some people because it sounds like a Disney girls’ book.”

[email protected]

At a glance

Girl Talk, with Brother Reade

McDonald Theatre

Sept. 16, 9 p.m.

$15 in advance, $18 at the door starting 5:30 p.m.


Please consider donating to the Emerald. We are an independent non-profit dedicated to supporting and educating this generation's best journalists. Your donation helps pay equipment costs, travel, payroll, and more!