Self-professed “pink coated punky foul mouthed london gurl” GIRLI is already drawing extreme reactions, and that’s exactly what she wants. The 18-year-old can either provoke glee or disgust, depending on who you ask. Fearlessness defines her every step, a belief that if strangers wind up offended by what she does, that’s completely fine.
“I want people to feel uncomfortable!” she beams, a few months on from striking gold with the siren-backed call to arms ‘ASBOys’, an obnoxious track designed for dispute. “The worst thing ever would be for someone to walk away from a show and not have an extreme reaction… Someone walked to the front of the stage with a note at a show in Sheffield and it read, ‘You’re shit.’ Someone chucked something at me. And then I had a group of girls who had come to see me and had glitter on their faces. That’s exactly what I want.”
From the get-go, GIRLI has been determined to showcase what she stands for. She’s set up her own radio station - the bonkers ‘GIRLI.FM’ - and on her debut track, she spat out the line: “You thought I was gonna do a ballad? Fuck off!”
Her ultimate mission is to “normalise things that some people see as taboo,” for example: “In the studio recently, I wanted to sing “suck my clit”, but the guy I was working with told me I should probably take that out. But if I said “suck my dick,” you wouldn’t say that. On stage, women think about what they wear really carefully. And guys don’t have that problem. Look at punk music, someone like Iggy Pop - dudes always take their shirt off and crowd surf. But if I took my shirt off, everyone would be like ‘Woah, she’s extreme, she’s such a slut’. It’s not fair. I suppose if I do that, I wanna shock people. But only in a way where it no longer shocks people.”
"I had to realise that life is about having fun"
With nothing but an iPod backing track and a fake ID her mum bought from www.fakeid.com, the North Londoner started out by playing open mic nights. “It was very different music. Still crazy, but I was a lot more tame. I’d rock up and there’d be twenty blokes with guitars, going ‘What the fuck?’”
She grew up as the smart kid in a comprehensive school (“whenever they see someone with good grades, they want to make you a statistic”), truly discovering herself when she started going out. “I’m writing about what I see - my friends, London, funny shit that actually happened. It’s hard to write about anything else,” she says, and so far she’s showcasing an in-your-face chasm of local chicken shops and the dickheads she comes across. “I had a bit of a crisis, in the middle of GCSEs, where I thought ‘Is this literally it?’ Having a shit time at school, going to uni and having a couple of years of jokes, and then going into a 9-5 job, and then another job, and then you retire. I literally can’t do that. I had to realise that life is about having fun,” she remembers, and it’s hard to find any other newcomer who sounds like they’re having as much fun as GIRLI.
Photos: Phil Smithies / DIY.
Taken from the February 2016 issue of DIY - grab a copy below.