It’s been a while since Gregg Gillis played in San Diego. But he certainly hasn’t forgotten it.
As Girl Talk, the sample-cutting composer remembers wandering the East Village when he was part of the final Street Scene in 2009.
In 2011, during a massive run for his last full-length album, “All Day,” he was surprised by a raucous local crowd at SOMA that he now refers to as “one of the best nights on the entire North American tour.”
And he’s ready for an encore.
Gillis won’t be promoting a new Girl Talk album when he performs at KAABOO, but that doesn’t mean fans should expect something they’ve seen before.
“Building for shows never really stops,” he told DSD from his home in Pittsburgh. “And I’ve always toured pretty steadily. But I’ve also taken some time off in the last two or three years. I now do about half the shows I used to do - which from 2006 to 2012 was as many as was physically possible. I’ve definitely enjoyed the time off, but compiling for the live show never stops.”
With an encyclopedic knowledge of pop songs and an ever-expanding library of hard drives filled with sounds, clips and samples, the one-time biomedical engineer is still working on music in his extra time. He just isn’t using it to search for that next show-stopping sample.
“It’s been fun and liberating to make music without thinking about the show,” Gillis said. “I’m finding it incredibly exciting to just make beats without any real intentions or plans. Working on music that doesn’t necessarily have to fit into a show led to the project I did last year.”
He’s referring to the “Broken Ankles” EP that he partnered on with rapper Freeway. Although the Philly-based MC lives less than an hour from Gillis, it’s the first time the two Pennsylvanians worked together. And after years of being asked to essentially work as a producer, it’s the first time Gillis took up the challenge.
“I had a list of rappers I wanted to work with,” he said. “Freeway just hit all of the check marks - he sounds good on a variety of beats, he can easily change up his style, and he was totally open to experimenting. Plus, he’s a great guy. I feel like I lucked out. He was great for the project, but I also really like him as a human being.”
With his first collaborative experience turning out so positively, Gillis isn’t sure when he’ll release another Girl Talk album. His addiction to finding “that one beat” is all encompassing. But he isn’t exactly against the idea, either.
“I love compiling and cutting up samples,” he said. “I always will. But it can become problematic to your life. It’s really hard to pull myself away sometimes. There’s always more you can be doing. But I’m definitely sitting on a lot of things I’m excited about. I just don’t have any official plans for them yet.”
Girl Talk plays as part of the Saturday night lineup, actually from 12:15 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Sunday, on the Encore Stage.
Most Girl Talk albums can be found for free, or pay-what-you-can, online.
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to firstname.lastname@example.org.