Pop sensation Girli talks latest EP, upcoming festivals and being a secret Swiftie
By Issy Taylor
Photos by Monika Wilczynska
“why am i like this??” questions the title of pop musician Girli’s new EP, and naturally, I also question why is she like what?
Born in North West London, Amelia Toomey, who is better known by her stage name “Girli,” began creating music when she was in high school to help her cope with the not-so-fun side of being a teenager.
“I really hated school,” she says. “I had a really tough time with bullying and I was just overwhelmed by high school. Getting into music and going to gigs found me a new community of people and it was, like, an amazing escape.”
This sense of community and escape wasn’t the only thing that led Girli to pursue singing and songwriting.
“I think also another thing that got me into songwriting was that I loved writing stories. I loved reading and writing short stories and poetry,” she continues. “When I started to become a music fan, those two things combined made so much sense to me.”
Girli began her first indie-pop band shortly after discovering her newfound love for songwriting, where she played guitar and sung vocals, but she soon realized that she was “too much of a control freak to be in a band.”
“I wanted to do everything in a particular way,” she says. “So yeah, the band actually left me. They were just like, ‘I feel like you need to do this on your own.’ I was like, ‘fair enough.’ And then I started performing as Girli.”
So how did the stage name Girli actually come about?
“I really loved the band Blondie,” Girli admits, gesturing to a poster of the band on her wall. “And I remember reading why Debbie Harry named the band Blondie because that was a derogatory name which men used to catcall her. And I think the word girly, a lot of the time, is used in a mocking way. So I wanted to take something similar to how Debbie Harry took this word that was meant to diminish her, and make it powerful — reclaim it.”
Girli’s music definitely resonates with the punky elements of Blondie, with her quirky, relatable titles screaming in your face. However, with the release of her EP “why am i like this??” many of the tracks such as “Cheap Love” and “Imposter Syndrome” have a softer vibe to them and inhabit storytelling elements to the lyrics.
“I like that it’s becoming more like storytelling and more sensitive. There’s songs that I’m writing right now which are in that vibe, and there’s other songs which are super in-your-face as well,” Girli says. “My music represents all facets of my personality. Sometimes I’m more sensitive and sometimes I’m more like, ‘fuck you.’”
The first track on the EP, “I Really F**ked It Up,” is probably the most well-known track due to its explicit title, embarking on the story of “being in a relationship and you can’t help self-sabotaging it,” according to Girli.
“It’s similar to the EP being called ‘why am i like this??’” Girli explains. “It’s just that whole thing of taking a hard look at yourself in the mirror and being like, ‘why do I self-sabotage? Why do I like, ruin things when they get good?’ The general vibe of this EP is looking at the parts of myself which I don’t like or want to change.”
“Inner Child,” Girli’s personal favorite track from her EP, speaks on the refusal to grow up, not understanding your own worth and, in turn, sucking the life energy out of others.
“There’s that part in a lot of us where we wonder what’s happened in our life that makes us behave in certain ways in relationships or with friends. There’s so many emotions, so many events that come up, and we’re like ‘why am i like this??’” Girli says of the meaning behind her EP.
Three out of the four tracks on “why am i like this??” were written before Girli had any idea she was going to release the EP. Only “I Really F**ked It Up” was written with the intention of being released as part of a project.
“I have a Discord fan base where I play demos that haven’t been released. I played ‘Imposter Syndrome,’ ‘Cheap Love’ and ‘Inner Child,’ and everyone thought they were so cool. So I started to think more about those songs. I went back and redid them, and they felt like they all related together with ‘I Really F**ked It Up.’ And that’s kind of how it came together,” Girli says of the process of making her EP.
Girli is performing at multiple festivals this Summer, including Christine and the Queens’ “Meltdown” at the Southbank Centre, London, Secret Garden Party in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, and numerous festivals in Europe including, Czech Republic, Holland and Spain. Girli additionally announced her North American tour, which is set to start in September.
One thing about touring that Girli loves is choosing supporting acts to perform on stage alongside her.
“My touring team is all women and non-binary folk,” she says. “That’s really important to me because there’s such a lack of representation in live music — it’s very male-dominated. So when I pick support acts, I look for women-fronted bands or LGBTQ+ bands.”
As for her dream artist to go on tour with though, Girli has a diverse range of female musicians, including Tove Lo, Kim Petras and Taylor Swift.
“I’m a Swiftie,” Girli reveals. “There’s a couple of her songs that I really love, they’re just all-time classics.”
In terms of the future for Girli, she says she’s excited “to just keep growing and morphing and evolving.”
We can definitely expect a lot more from the pop sensation in the upcoming months!