Girli's stage presence immediately captivates you, her bright pink hair and commanding voice just draws you in. It's intense and awe-inspring and the message behind her music just echoes those feelings. We caught her at SXSW to talk about pushing through imposter syndrome and the sweet message she has for her fans.
How did you get started in music?
Girli: I was in school, and I was very academic. I was doing all of the clever subjects because schools feel like the arts are stupid, so that's their opinion, not mine, obviously, and school just became tough. I was bullied, and I struggled with my mental health a lot when I was a teenager. I mean, still now a lot, but when I was a teenager, especially. I found music as a complete escape, and I started going to gigs and becoming obsessed with bands and albums. I started my own band, and then from there, I played with my band for a few years as a teenager, and we did loads of shit gigs where there were two people there at the pub, and we had fake IDs because we were too young to get into our own shows and all that stuff. Then I started making music as Girli.
Tell me kind of about the creation of Girli. I feel like you have such a cohesive aesthetic, and you have a vision.
Girli: I feel like it's definitely changed and developed over the years. I mean, initially, I guess the main message and the idea stayed the same in that I chose the name Girli and I decided my hair was going to be pink. The concept really was about femininity and about challenging negative ideas about femininity, and when people hear the word girly or they see the color pink, they have a preconception about it, and oftentimes that preconception is a negative one. It's like, "Oh, it's going to be really sissy and silly and submissive," and for me, my music is very opinionated and very raw. When I perform live, it's very energetic and kind of in your face. And so kind of the opposite to those things, and yeah, I just wanted to kind of say, "Well, I can take the color pink, and I can take the word girly, and I can just make them whatever I want to make them."
You just released "Impostor Syndrome," can you tell me the meaning behind it? I feel like it's so relevant to especially women in music that are literally always dealing with impostor syndrome.
Girli: Women especially deal with it. I feel like I've achieved a lot but I find it completely impossible sometimes to see that and to see myself through the eyes of how other people would see me like my friends would see me and my fans would see me. I think that's definitely a struggle. It's like the constantly unsatisfied mind. It's like you set yourself goals, and then you get to those goals, and they're not good enough anymore. And I think women deal with that a lot more because we've dealt with growing up feeling like we're being told we're fucking inferior all the time. For me, I just wrote that song like it was a journal entry. It was exactly what was happening to me at the time, and I still struggle with that a lot.
How do you confront that? How do you deal with that and push forward?
Girli: Still figuring out, to be honest, I think talking to people, therapy, talking to friends, talking to other artists. Finding genuine connections, especially with other women in the music industry who are experiencing similar things, because I think a lot of the time, social media can be very isolating. It can make you feel like you're the only person who's experiencing these things, and you start to feel like, "Oh, am I just like an outsider feeling all these feelings?" and actually, even as great as everyone else's lives look online, everyone's going through shit, and a lot of the time the same thing as you.
What has been kind of one of the biggest challenges for you in music?
Girli: I think the challenge has been that I came into this because I love music, and I love telling stories, and I love my fans and how close I feel to them with these songs because they're about very personal things. I will always love music, but the industry and the people that you meet-- you meet some great people, but there are also a lot of people who are just ethically not where I stand, who only care about money and stabbing people in the back and don't care about kindness and things that go against a lot of what I believe in and take away from what it'sit's about. It's about music, and that's difficult trying to balance those two things. A lot of the time in the past, I felt like, "Is this worth it?" Being in this industry is really difficult and takes away from the music a lot of the time.
How do you stay motivated to keep going and keep putting music out when you're dealing with all those challenges?
Girli: My fans 100%, playing shows I feel so close to them. I feel like you see people, and you meet people who have been affected by your music. For me, it's really important to meet fans after my shows. I always go to the merch stand, and we hang out and these shows in the US. For example, after the New York and Chicago shows, I spent like two hours just talking to them. Because I was like, "I don't want to miss anyone. I want to speak to these people who have made my career happen." The amount of sweet things that people say, like, "Keep going. I love your music. It's changed my life. Do this. Keep going," and that really brings me back down to earth in a good way.
What would you want your fans to take away from your music?
Girli: That you're not alone and that I'm just as confused as you are about everything.