Mash-up guru Girl Talk, a.k.a. Gregg Gillis, on how to build a better playlist

By Leah Greenblatt
Updated March 11, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST

When 29-year-old Pittsburgh native Gregg Gillis, better known as Girl Talk, unleashed All Day, his fifth collection of hair-trigger mash-ups, as a free download last November, the resulting frenzy nearly crashed the Internet. But Gillis’ signature style — an ingenious interweaving of seconds-long snippets ranging from Elton John to OutKast, Portishead to The Price Is Right‘s theme song — is often best experienced live at the wild prop-filled parties he calls shows. Girl Talk is on tour now through late July; here Gillis reveals the methods behind his onstage madness.

1. ”Keep the music familiar. But have some elements of surprise — people want to dance to songs they know, but a room can erupt when you put on a song that they love but were not expecting to hear.”

2. ”Don’t be afraid to dive into jams that overly self-conscious people like to call ‘guilty pleasures.’ Blow some minds. I’m talking Miley Cyrus’ ‘Party in the U.S.A.’ here.”

3. ”Props can’t hurt. At my shows, some confetti and homemade air guns that shoot toilet paper go a long way. Covering your friends with party-supply-store goods can really take things up a notch.”

4. ”Lose your mind and the rest will follow. Sometimes you have to lead by example. Don’t be afraid to be the first sweaty person. Take some clothes off, instigate nudity.”