Highly on the rise, GIRLI is living rent-free in our minds as the established independent singer-songwriter proves against the odds with her latest EP, Damsel In Distress.
Taking 2021 by storm with the ever-expansive minds of hyper-experimental sounds and an increasing discography - from the EP EX Talk and a series of singles to now her best work to date, Damsel in Distress - London based GIRLI finds herself at the top of the pyramid.
Finding her musical passion at the age of 14 after attending a gig to then performing in a band, Milly Toomey, aka GIRLI, after a few years, realised things were about to change as she went solo. Picking up attention across the board since her debut. The prominent artist has gone from independent, major label and now back to independent. And admits, "this project is bigger, bolder, and more me than ever," and adds, “in the last year since I’ve gone independent again, I’ve been experimenting and finding out what I like and what I want to make, not what anyone else wants me to make."
With delving further into her sounds and exploring the unrequited feelings of love, body dysmorphia and self-discovery, we caught up with GIRLI in the middle of her tour about her latest project, performing live again, and what the industry is all about.
Congratulations on the release of Damsel in Distress. How has this release been different to your other projects so far?
This project is bigger, bolder, and more me than ever. It really experimented with different influences and crossed genres musically. Visually, it’s my first project ever where I’ve made a music video for each song; each song has its own visual identity, all co-directed and co-creatively directed by me.
Delving into the motivations behind the project, could you tell us a little more about the inspirations and influences behind the project?
My influences were all over the place, just like me. I was inspired by K-pop groups, like Black Pink, BTS and Loona, alternative pop queens like Tove Lo and Billie Eilish, and also throwback pop songs that I grew up on like Hot ’N Cold by Katy Perry. Oh, and not forgetting the 80s bangers that inspired the production of Dysmorphia. It was a big fusion of everything I listen to.
Talking about the whole EP, how did Damsel in Distress come together, and how would you describe the creative process?
Like most of my projects, I never planned on making an EP; it just happened. The songs were written in London and Stockholm with some amazing collaborators who really got that I was going through some shit and needed to write about it. Then I sat down and listened to everything I’d made over a couple of months and thought that they sounded like the chapters of a diary, each song with its own identity and message, and decided to make them into one project.
Do you have a favourite song off the album or one that’s particularly meaningful to you?
'I Don’t Like Myself', the final track on the EP, is my favourite. It’s a plea to myself to stop comparing myself to other people online and to stop hating on myself. It makes me very sad, but it’s also my favourite to listen to and to play live because I really nailed what I was trying to say. I articulated my feelings exactly, and that brings me some comfort. I’ve had people message me about this song, saying it sums up exactly what they’ve been feeling, and that makes me feel less alone.
What do you hope listeners will gain from the stories told on the album?
I hope if they can relate to any of the topics on the EP, that they’ll feel like they have someone who understands what they’re going through.
With several singles, EPs, and tours under your belt, how would you say your sound has evolved throughout your career to this point?
It’s constantly evolving! I like that as an artist. I don’t really stick to one genre. I experiment, and I’m excited to keep growing my sound. I think it went from really brash and hyperpoppy and punky in my early songs, to slicker pop when I was signed with a major label. And in the last year since I’ve gone independent again, I’ve been experimenting and finding out what I like and what I want to make, not what anyone else wants me to make.
As we talk about your rise, what have you learnt so far about the music industry and what has been the biggest misconception?
That it’s full of people who really don’t give a fuck about you or your mental health. It’s a very fickle industry that you can’t take too seriously, otherwise, it will destroy how you feel about yourself. It’s like a grown-up version of high school. People will flock like moths to a flame to ‘hype’, but you have to find the people who will stick with you no matter what happens to your ‘hype’ or popularity because they’re the real ones.
Looking back at your time as being an artist, when did you know music was your passion, and how did GIRLI come alive?
When I went to my first ever gig when I was 14 and live music blew me away. I started my first band a week later through JoinMyBand.com. We made a racket in these tiny rehearsal rooms in Camden and played some shows in weird pubs, and after a few years of playing with a band, I decided I wanted to do it myself. That’s when GIRLI happened.
In other news, with live music back, what has been your favourite show so far, and what tour/show are you looking forward to the most?
My favourite show since live music has been back was my last headline show in London at Bush Hall. It was still when the audience had to be seated, but somehow the energy was raucous. People found a way to rave and dance in their seats, and
we threw out roses at the end. They brought us back on for an encore with the loudest feet stamping I’ve ever heard. I’m so excited for my upcoming Damsel in Distress tour that starts on the 7th of November and runs till 3rd December. It’s my first ever independent, self-funded and DIY tour, and I have an all-woman crew coming on the road with me. Getting back into touring is going to be so amazing.
Finally, what can we expect from you in terms of music for the rest of this year and the next?
I have some really cool collaborations in the pipeline, and then 2022 is more music, more shows and more everything!