Interview: GIRLI

Pop’s new bright pink figurehead.

In an age where female-less festival line-ups and derogatory tweets make headlines daily, it’s no lie that the topic of women in music is arguably more relevant and necessary than ever.

Girli isn’t here to put up with that shit.

The singer/rapper/producer has spent the last few months gathering a flood of online interest off the back of the mixtape-cum-podcast GIRLI.fm, intent on supplying the girl power and chaos that pop has been long overdue. With her glitchy brat-pop set for steal 2016, we spoke to London’s princess of pink figurehead straight off stage in East London.


You’ve just come off stage so how was the show for you?

Yeah it was really fun! It’s the first time I’ve ever seen people singing back my songs. I wasn’t expecting that many people to be here so we were like “shit man, it’s rammed” before we went on, a “what the fuck, how is this happening?” moment. A few months ago I was still playing open mic nights to maybe two people, which used to really bug me out. But yes, it was really, really, really fucking good.

You’re a tad different to a usual open mic night set, it must be said…

*Laughs* I’d go and just plug in an iPod and just dance around on my own.

So besides the open mic nights, how long have you been playing live?

Probably three years now, I used to be in a band and before that I started on my own with an acoustic guitar, and then I became Girli.

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From a crowd perspective it’d be easy to suggest that image and aesthetic play an important part in a Girli live show. Would you say that’s the case?

I think it’s important for me, yes. I know he’s just passed away but David Bowie’s way of making music into almost theatre and doing more than just playing the songs was key. If I go and see someone live and they just play the songs, I feel disappointed because I want more than just the music on the record, I want a full show. For my own image, it just came naturally. There was no sitting down for meetings or anything stupid like that but it’s definitely relevant.

Is it a 50/50 balance between the music and the image or is it something more than that?

It’s definitely all about the music. The image just comes hand in hand with it.

Your GIRLI.fm mixtape took the form of a radio show, almost like a podcast. Was it intentional to do something completely different from a straight forward bunch of tracks?

I wanted to do something that wasn’t just like a Spotify playlist, something that would reflect my personality more and make it a bit funnier. When I listen to an album or watch anything, I want a laugh from it. So I wanted to do that instead.

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Your next shows a support slot for Rat Boy at Heaven, a 1000-odd capacity space which is a bit of a step up from the 100-limit here. Nervous?

I doubt many people will be there at 7.30 but fucking hell…

…He’s got hard-core fans, so you never know…

I know! We saw him a few months back and his fans were there early and going super crazy. I was nervous at first but now I’m just thinking “fuck it!” He’s cool so it should be fun. I’m playing Great Escape in May which is gonna be my first ever festival so I’m really excited about that too.

In terms of the writing process, is there a specific order you follow? Lyrics then beat or..?

I write lyrics all the time, my phone is just full of them. It’s rare that I write them in a studio environment. But when I am in the studio the beat is usually done first and then I’ll come up with the melody and then it’s the lyrics over the top. Sometimes I’ll have a melody already and we’ll work with that. I find it difficult to write melodies without music behind it so it’s usually the beat first. I produce a little bit, but most of my songs now have a producer working on the beat and then I write over it. I’m getting increasingly annoyed at the fact that I require someone, mostly a dude, to help me make the music. But eventually, I want to make an album that’s all me.

Is it a mixture of home recordings and studio work on the final tracks then? And are the producers all hand-picked by yourself?

I do record stuff at home but it’s mostly different studios. And yes, I work with who I wanna work it. I’ve had times where people have said “you should work with this person and that person” and I’ve just had to say “nah.” I got asked to go over to L.A and work with some big pop producers and I turned it down since I don’t want to Americanise my sound as I’m from London. But I definitely have a lot of creative control, which is very cool.

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I’ve read a few articles where comparisons to Grimes have been made, even one that stated you were a Grimes-meets-Kate Bush lovechild. Do you take the comparisons as a positive or do you believe there’s no links there at all?

*Laughs* …It’s me Cathy I’ve come home I’m so… Yeah, I read the Kate Bush one. I wouldn’t say Grimes was an influence for me, I mean I love her but musically she’s very different. I’d definitely say I’m inspired by how in control she is of everything but musically, I’d say it was completely different. I don’t really feel like she’s very aggressive *laughs* but she’s fucking cool.

Since you’ve been tipped by many to be a “sound of 2016” as such, can you pick any artists we should all get familiar with now?

Ooh fucking hell, I have friends who make music who are amazing. Peaky’s one of them, he’s a rapper and will go on to do big things this year.

Cheers Girli!

Words – Bill Baker

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