TRASH TALK 003
POP-PUNK SENSATION GIRLI TALKS CREATIVE CONTROL, SOCIAL MEDIA AND WHAT’S NEXT FOR HER ARTISTIC PROJECT
Exclusive conversations with the most exciting artists, filmmakers, musicians, designers and cultural innovators in London.
Words & Photography by James Arden
Published 7 September 2019
Girli is a London born-and-bred singer, songwriter and mutli-talented creative, creating bubblegum pop-punk music about feminism, sexuality and self expression for a fanbase of self-identifying outsiders - hence the title of her debut album “Odd One Out” released in April 2019.
On the tail-end of a busy summer which has seen her writing, touring and recording non-stop after parting ways with her label, I caught up with her to shoot in a studio in Dalston and chat about creative control, tattoos, breakups and what’s next for Girli…
For those that don't know, let's start with the basics - who is Girli? Where did she come from?
GIRLI is pop mixed with punk. All about being an outspoken, idependent multi-faceted song queen.
You released your debut album this year - what was it like finally releasing an album after all the build up and work over a few years? How did it feel?
It felt like.... just another day. There’s such a big build up to an “album”, but really it’s just another day of releasing music. I don’t like build ups and holding back and waiting for the “right time”. You inhibit your growth by waiting to do the shit you most desire.
I’ve talked to other artists on here about tattoos - you've got a fair amount yourself, some of which you're getting removed I think? Do you think you'll keep getting more? What do they mean to you? I might steal the Fear & Loathing one for myself.
I had a phase of tattoo madness when I turned 18. I'm a very impulsive person and so I got a load of tattoos of stuff that inspired me without really thinking if I wanted them on there for eternity. Because of that I am getting some removed, although most of them remind me of a time in my life and I like that. They're like a story on my body.
You talked openly about being dropped by your label on your socials this summer, and you've been thrown a lot of challenges recently, professionally and personally. How have you dealt with shit? I know you went to Palestine for a bit?
I've just had to ride the waves. 2019 threw some SHIT at me but I can feel myself getting stronger every time a knock-back happens. I surprised myself after getting dropped. I thought that I'd have nothing, no direction, feel so lost, and I felt that for a bit but then I had this huge relief and freedom and independence. It felt like a breakup from a toxic relationship. Difficult at first but then freeing as fuck!
Even though it's not always good, it also kind of seems like you're living your best life post-album release. Going to Japan, Palestine, Madrid, playing at loads of indie festivals, collaborating with new artists. What's driving all this creative energy? Do you feel like 'Girli' is entering a new phase? Do you even know where she's going yet?
I never have any idea where she’s going. But it definitely feels like a new exciting chapter of more creative freedom! I genuinely think the drive to create and do more stuff was kickstarted by being dropped by my label and leaving my music manager. Suddenly, I was out on my own and forced to make shit happen for myself. It made me realise that I’m way more in control of my life and getting my desires than I previously thought.
You also tried professional acting recently for a TV show - how was that experience? You're definitely a natural performer - it's obvious from directing you in music videos. But TV/Film is definitely a different pace and environment.
TV acting is so different to music and gets me to flex very different creative muscles which I love. Having to become someone else and inhabit the character is similar to what I do when I’m on stage as GIRLI, but it also takes me away from some of the pressure of performing as myself which I like. I can become someone else for the day. When people ask me what I do I always hesitate to say just “musician” because I want to do EVERYTHING! Creativity expresses itself in loads of different ways. Most creatives will have multiple outlets.
I sometimes forget you're only 21, which is mad. I was finishing up my undergrad degree and generally still clueless at that age. Do you think growing up in London or any big city impacts creative people a lot? You can see and experience so much so fast.
I think growing up in London definitely exposed me to way more music and opportunities than perhaps if i’d grown up in a small town. But I think I’ve also just always had a restless nature, since I was a kid, always searching for more and the next thing, so I felt like I was a couple years ahead of my school mates and I always hung out with older people anyway. I feel both mature and completely clueless!
You're an LGBT+ advocate and openly pansexual - you were in the Gay Times recently and also posted about feeling "more gay every day" - is it a side of yourself you're embracing more and more in this next phase of music and creativity?
My sexuality has always been something i‘m very open about in my music and online. I had a breakup recently and I’m now free to learn more about myself and my sexuality which is pretty fun! I’m definitely talking about that more in my music at the moment. Being confident in my sexuality is very linked to my feeling of self worth and independence.
So much of being an artist - musician, filmmaker, whatever - is up and down. Creative fulfilment and enjoyment, followed by self-doubt, comparisons to others and anxiety etc. It's nothing new to point out that social media heightens all these feelings - good and bad. What's your approach to dealing with all that? Does being honest and sharing with fans help?
I find it super hard sometimes. But it’s something that I’m learning to deal with, day by day. I’m learning to love myself and trust myself and my journey more. Being honest on social media keeps a healthy relationship with it, instead of posting highlights from your life and getting absorbed into it.
You recently spoke out about having full creative control over all your artistic output for the first time... so what's next for Girli?
So much new music! New shows. A new chapter. A more international focus. I’m bringing this bitch to the world!
Girli’s debut album Odd One Out is available to stream on all platforms now
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