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An Interview with GIRLI




With her fiery pink locks, fierce gazes, and brash lyrics it's easy to assume Milly Toomey (better known by her stage name, GIRLI) is apathetic, unintimidated, and fearless. But what makes GIRLI's music and persona so fascinating is that she reappropriates traditionally feminine behavior/aesthetics (perceived as weak by society), using them instead as a strength by being blunt, upfront, and unabashedly, well, girly.

Don't let the upbeat melodies fool you. GIRLI's music is a work of raw emotion that you can dance to. The fun tune of party girl ballad "Mr. 10pm Bedtime" masks the desperation to maintain youth that underlies this track. The deceivingly happy synths in "Play it Cool" (in which the accompanying music video appropriately features a disinterested boy pretending to read Catcher in the Rye while an exuberant GIRLI trashes his room in an attempt to get his attention to no avail) make the song easy to blast in the car with friends or to cry alone in your room to. And perhaps the most well-crafted song in her body of work, as well as the newest, "Day Month Second" is a powerful attestation to the pain and freedom (and the warped sense of time) that comes with leaving an unfaithful partner.

While some of her older tracks (like "Hot Mess" and "Not That Girl") are tongue-in-cheek comebacks to general criticisms someone of her character might receive, through her more recent songs that loosely follow a narrative GIRLI allows herself to be more sensitive, creating a poignant connection between listener and musician. Although her music has always been a go-to when I need a boost in confidence, it seems like lately she's found a truly unique voice that doesn't sacrifice the punchy anti-patriarchy commentary she's known for but rather deepens and substantiates it with personal anecdotes. In some ways, her new style even more deeply reflects what her old work was trying to communicate: the re-purposing of vulnerabilities as power.

It takes a few listens to unearth the true genius in GIRLI's music. She describes the perils and apexes of relationships and growing up (coupled with a healthy dose of social criticism and girl power obviously) in a way that respects herself and others, and is always forthright and refreshing. It was an absolute an honor to be able to chat with someone so talented.


Who are your musical inspirations?

So many people! Bjork, Lily Allen, M.I.A, Arctic Monkeys, Siouxsie Sioux, Blondie, Grimes, La Roux, Mark Ronson, Bowie... the list could go on forever, and keeps being added to.

Do you usually start with lyrics or melodies?

Totally depends. I write lyrics and poems all the time that get turned into song lyrics, and I come up with the melodies and record them on my phone all the time that I'll combine with production ideas and lyrics I've already come up with.

What's the best reaction anyone has ever had to your music?

When I get messages on social media from young teenagers who say "your music has helped me to be confident" or "get better." That's the best.

What's your favorite song of yours?

Of the ones that are out, Day Month Second. But my favorite I've ever written is still to come.

Can you describe your favorite outfit?

Anything Siouxsie Sioux would wear.

What's the best piece of criticism you've ever received?

Someone said when Day Month Second came out that I'd "finally written a good song." And I liked that because I kind of agreed -- I wanna keep beating what I've done before, bettering myself and my songwriting.

Were you always as bold and unafraid as you are now? What advice do you have for someone that's shy but trying to come out of their shell?

There's this misconception that I'm totally unafraid, when actually I'm human and sometimes I'm unafraid and sometimes I'm really afraid! But the main thing I would say to someone trying to come out of their shell more is to face what you're scared of doing and just DO IT. Do it once, and it becomes easier to do from then on. Things are way less scary than what you think.

Do you think your musical style will change in the future? If so, how?

Yes, because I know I'll change, and when I change, my music changes. I can't predict how it will change, just like how I can't predict my future life, but at the moment it's going more pop.

What's your favorite movie?

It changes all the time! At the moment, Call Me By Your Name and Amelie.

Lastly, what is your definition of success?

Happiness.

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