Under the name Girl Talk, Pittsburgh native Greg Gillis established himself in the mid-2000s as a master of mash-ups, party raps, and sample-based indie dance music, which were released on the Illegal Art label. While working as a biomedical research engineer by day, Gillis' musical career graduated from early experimental fare to ambitious projects like 2006's Night Ripper, whose wild party jams were constructed with over 300 different sampled songs. Also known for his manic, intense live performances, he managed two more full-length releases on Illegal Art before the label went on hiatus in 2012. Gillis' own recorded output slowed down with the 2014 Freeway collaboration Broken Ankles, coming out on his own label, and a handful of singles followed over the next few years while he focused more on production.
At first a teenage punk performer inspired by Japanese noise acts like Merzbow and the Boredoms, Gillis made the surprisingly slight conceptual shift into copyright-flouting sample work around the turn of the millennium. Hooking up with the proudly anti-copyright collective Illegal Art, a shadowy label vaguely connected to the pioneering samplers Negativland, Gillis made debut with 2002's Secret Diary, an artful and largely conceptual release that turned the recognizable snippets into brief blasts of glitchy noise. 2004's Unstoppable was far more direct, using fewer and longer samples to create more recognizable mash-ups in the manner of early KLF singles, making Girl Talk suddenly the most pop-oriented and accessible project on the Illegal Art roster. After a pair of vinyl EPs, 2004's Stop Cleveland Hate and 2006's Bone Hard Zaggin', Gillis' third album as Girl Talk, 2006's Night Ripper, split the difference between his two previous full-length efforts, with the playfully recognizable samples of the second and the more complex structures of the first. The album's popularity also helped build his audience and he followed it up with 2008's Feed the Animals, again relying mostly on samples and his own instrumentation. 2010's All Day would prove to be the last Girl Talk release to appear on Illegal Art who went on an indefinate hiatus in 2012. Over the next few years, Gillis continued to tour, and in 2014 hooked up with Philly rapper, Freeway, to release the collaborative EP, Broken Ankles. He appeared that same year at Coachella with guests like Busta Rhymes and Juicy J rapping during his set. Shifting his focus toward production, he worked on tracks for Freeway, Wiz Taylor, and Smoke DZA, while releasing a couple of Girl Talk collaborations in the 2018 track, "Trouble in Paradise" with Erick the Architect and 2019's "No Problem" with Young Nudy. ~ Stewart Mason