In Conversation With: GIRLI

by Hannah Nicholson-Tottle, Apr 18, 2018

We caught up with the GIRLI at her Clwb Ifor Bach gig to talk tour highlights, the rise of women in the creative industries and calling out bullshit.

GIRLI’s music hits hard and packs a punch thanks to her irritating-on-purpose vibe and crazy sampling.

Behind the diamante-studs, sugary DIY pop, and a suburban London accent, she’s asserting some serious femme dominance. Dressed head to toe in pink and offending just as many people as she wins over, GIRLI has a hell of a lot to say.

How’s the tour going?

I can’t believe it’s the last show! It always goes so quickly. I’m like “I’m going on tour for two weeks!!” Then it’s over in a minute.

Any highlights?

Oh my gosh so many. The Manchester show was pretty insane, I didn’t realise it was a bigger venue than the rest we were playing. And we got there and the crowd were insane. It was like someone had given them sherbet in their drinks secretly when they walked in. Everyone was on a mad sugar rush it was so much fun. But all the shows have been super fun, and I’m really excited for the Cardiff show tonight.

Have you had a chance to look around?

We literally only just got here, but we’re going out tonight. I’ve never been to Wales before let alone played a show here, so looking forward to it!

What’s been your favourite city so far?

I always love going to Manchester, it’s really pretty and always really fun. Cardiff looks really pretty too, I’m really excited to look around. Sheffield was fascinating in terms of in terms of people watching. We weren’t going out that night but we were really hungry late at night. It felt like we were on Geordie Shore because we ended up in the center of all these people partying and we were just eating pasta. And there were all these girls in huge heels and fake tan just looking so amazing.

It felt like I was David Attenborough, like “here I am at the local watering hole of the youth…” Liverpool was fun too, we went to loads of gay bars, which was way messy.

You do a photo diary of each show, have you always done that? What’s the idea behind it?

Well, my friend, Brie takes really cool photos, and so I asked her to come on tour with me. When I was 13/14 and used to go to see bands I loved seeing photos of them not just onstage but just doing their thing through the day.

Also, there are people in other countries that enjoy my music but can’t come to my shows, they still like to see videos of photos of what I’m doing. I love connecting with fans on social media, it’s so important to show that I care, because they give me so much, and I do.

You've said you like to write music that gets a reaction out of people, can you tell me a bit about your creative process?

I think the way I make music has definitely changed, I like to get a reaction out of people, but the reaction I want from people changes with every song. I used to write a lot more political songs whereas now more than ever I’m definitely a political artist but not every song I write is about something political.

I realised that I want to write songs about whatever I’m feeling, and sometimes I just want to write a song about being messed around by a boy or getting too drunk and telling someone I fancy them, you know? Really relatable stuff that can make people feel something and get a reaction out of them that way. But then also when they look at me as an artist they’ll see the things I say on social media, the messages I’m sending across and the things I’m encouraging people to think about.

Hopefully, that way people will be inspired to make a change and really open their eyes politically, and about different issues too. I think what I mean when I say I want to get a reaction out of people I definitely like the idea that I’m outspoken and shocks some people. I want to make it less shocking for a woman making music to talk about political issues, and to be honest about herself and her body, and her life. I don’t want to be a censored version of myself, I want to say what I want to say.

 

You have an extremely distinct personal style. How did it develop, does it influence your music, and who are your influences?

I definitely find that the things I wear and the music I’m making go side by side. I’m playing three new songs tonight and a lot of those have a more alternative and rockier sound, but are still pop songs. I’m wearing way more non-pink items of clothing, black, tartan and fishnet tights - shock horror - but don’t worry the hair will always stay!

I’m also influenced by my hobbies, skateboarding and so on, and a lot of things I wear are for practicality. In terms of my musical style, it’s definitely changed a lot since I started making music as GIRLI. I was 17 when I started to write music and now I’m 20. That’s a big period of development for anyone.

I used to make music that was a lot cutsier pop music when I made that, or a lot more extreme stuff with my anti-pop songs. And now I’m fusing the two, trying to make songs that are actually pop but also punky and aggressive for lots of different people to enjoy.

As a skateboarder, what do you think of their Girls Skate Night event?

I love it, I skate there all the time! Women, non-cis gendered and female identifying artists in music have to support each other and we need more nights like it.

What’s on your headphones at the moment?

So random, the stuff I’m listening to is so unrelated. Uh, Drake and I’m really into Goldfrapp at the moment, a lot of Scissor, Peaches. And Empress Of, she’s amazing.

How do you think the rise of women in the creative industries is affecting the music scene?

There are a lot more women doing music and getting recognition for it, playing festivals and being noticed on every level. That always means that there’s a lot more being said about how the music industry is still inherently sexist. It shines a light on how gigs are still not safe enough in terms of harassment and attitude, and how the industry’s still dominated by men in suits.

Whenever there are more minorities doing something there’s more representation. In the mainstream as well, women speaking out against that kind of stuff, like the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, and the power of social media is making us way less tolerant of sexism in every industry. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s definitely getting there slowly.

 

I’ve introduced a few of my friends to your music, especially HOT MESS and they all said it makes them feel empowered and bad ass - do you have a message for all the gals out there?

Be exactly who you wanna be. Dress how you want. Wear as much or as little as you want. Speak your mind. Call bullshit out. And be badass, because you are.

Big up GIRLI for taking the time to talk to us!

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