Skip to main content

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?



Popular posts from this blog

Steps to healing and solastalgia.

It's quite amazing how your inner landscape changes after abuse and trauma.  Things that never used to bother me, or never even entered my awareness are now triggers sending off anxiety responses and distress.  The intensity of these varies and even though I am aware of them and have good protective strategies in place, frequently they go where they want to go as happens in trauma response.  Your hypothalamus hijacks your brain and off goes your heart rate, blood pressure, cognitive function etc.  If ever you find yourself in the company of someone with severe anxiety or experiencing a traumatic trigger please don't expect them to snap out of it or just get over it, the healing process doesn't work like that. They are not being dramatic or silly, nor is it something they have control over.  Be patient, help them to ease their anxiety and fear by using their senses.  Smelling the smells around them, feeling the breeze on their skin. Noticing the texture of their shirt, the …

a heart who's love is innocent

Lately I've been thinking about the difference between being alone and being lonely. I actually don't like the label of introvert, especially the way it's used nowadays online. People that I've encountered online who identify as introverts seem to have swell heads and think that wanting to be alone sometimes counts as a personality. Or they're incredibly misanthropic and think hating people will make them popular online. Obviously this is a generalization, and I'm sure there are some wonderful people in online introvert communities, I just never felt comfortable calling myself part of them, especially lately. I've also been questioning the usefulness of labels-- I think pretty much everyone has introverted and extroverted tendencies.

I am a pretty solitary person, though, and I've always been okay with that, until recently. In high school, I was hardly a party animal, but I had friends that I could go get coffee with and study with and make flower crowns…

lip gloss and cherry pop

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the ways in which my online persona differs from how I act in real life. I think that my demeanor is mostly the same-- I'd like to think that my online friends and my real life friends view me as a kind and intelligent cheese lover. I've met several online acquaintances in real life and they don't seem at all surprised by my mannerisms or anything. But, strangely, I think I'm more open and expressive online. It sounds strange to say "I'm more myself online than I am in real life," because, like most people, my digital life is heavily curated. But I do think that, as someone who suffers from social anxiety, the internet has allowed me to share my thoughts more freely without the intimidation of talking to someone face-to-face.

My (real-life) friend and I are starting a silly podcast-- it's mostly just us talking and we still don't know if we for sure want to make it public or just record conversations for ou…