GIRLI Talks Transformations and Queer Love

GIRLI by Claryn Chong

GIRLI opens up about her new album Matriarchy, safe spaces, and transformations. The alt-pop artist is known for being bold and unapologetically herself, with her new album marking a new era. She describes it as her most “reflective” and “vulnerable” work. Collaborating with producers like Gil Lewis and Zhone, she felt creatively liberated by removing the pressure to fit a certain sound or message. Naming both the album and its lead single ‘Matriarchy’, GIRLI aims to highlight the beauty of queer love and the female gaze in a patriarchal society.

GIRLI’s journey started in north London, encouraged by her actor parents. Initially performing in bands, she soon went solo, adopting her stage name and signature pink hair to embrace and challenge societal norms. With honest and therapeutic songwriting, GIRLI addresses themes like beauty standards, mental health, and personal insecurities. Fans around the world find her music inspiring and comforting, positioning her as a leading voice for the new generation of LGBTQIA+ musicians.

KALTBLUT: Your new album ‘Matriarchy’ represents a significant shift towards a more reflective and vulnerable style. What inspired this transformation in your music? 

I think I’ve just become older. I’ve matured and I’ve realised that vulnerability is strength and songwriting has become even more so than before my way of journalling my emotions.

KALTBLUT: In naming both the album and the debut single ‘Matriarchy’, you’ve chosen a potent symbol of female empowerment. What does the concept of ‘Matriarchy’ mean to you personally and artistically?

Matriarchy to me means community, it means creating a safe space for yourself, particularly as a marginalised person, as a woman, as an LGBTQ+ person, as anyone who feels like the world and society as it exists is not friendly to them. To me matriarchy means much more than just the dictionary definition. I wanted to redefine it, in the context of titling the album Matriarchy, as an imagined utopia for anyone who feels fucked over by the patriarchy to just take a breather and be themselves. Writing and performing songs is my safe space and it’s really important to me as an artist to curate a safe space at my gigs, online and with my music for the people listening. I hope that people feel like they can come to my shows and express themselves however they want to and feel welcome and accepted, even if they don’t feel that way in the outside world, and I hope that listening to my music makes people feel that safety as well. I hope it makes them feel understood, seen and celebrated. The matriarchy song is about queer joy being an act of resistance and celebrates the female gaze as something that you create in your own world when you are in a queer relationship as a woman. 

KALTBLUT: The single ‘Matriarchy’ also packs a powerful message about queer love and rejecting societal norms. Could you share what sparked the idea for this song?

My relationship with my girlfriend inspired this song. I realised that when I was with her I felt like we were in our own little world and I felt all of the stresses and expectations and heaviness of the patriarchy disappear. When you’re raised a woman you are taught that you exist for men and that the world revolves around men and that your image is for the male gaze. Being in a relationship with another woman feels so free because I get to be completely rid of that, and our love is like a big fuck you to all the expectations piled on top of us.

KALTBLUT: You’ve described the process of creating this album as more liberating due to letting go of certain pressures. Can you talk about how this newfound freedom has impacted your songwriting and overall creativity?

I think I just realised I had to go back to the root of why I started making music in the first place and that’s because I was a confused and sad and lost teenager who went to shows and started a band and would write songs in the back of school books because that was my escape from being bullied and my reality that wasn’t that fun at the time. I realised that songwriting is my way of processing things that happened to me and making them make sense through art and that’s all it has to be so I tried to remove all of the bullshit is this going to be a hit? Is going to be viral and I just went into the studio thinking if this never sees the light of day that’s okay because it helped me at least to process something that happened and that’s why I songwriter first and foremost.

KALTBLUT: The track ‘Be With Me’ explores themes of self-love and independence post-breakup. How did you craft this song to convey such a deep, personal journey?

I just wanted to write a love letter to myself and celebrate the things that are wonderful about being single and try to bring joy to that instead of it being a sad or lonely experience. 

KALTBLUT: Throughout your career, your music has evolved from being combative to therapeutic. How do you navigate these shifts in tone and subject matter while staying true to the essence of GIRLI?

I think my fans appreciate that GIRLI is ever changing because GIRLI is me and I’m a human who is ever-changing and I started releasing music when I was a teenager and now I’m in my 20s and as I’ve grown up so has my music.

KALTBLUT: Your songs often tackle issues around body image, mental health, and self-identity. Why is it important for you to address these topics in your music?

I don’t think it’s a conscious effort to address those issues. I just do because they’re on my mind a lot but I definitely appreciate how important representation is. It’s important to me that I share these stories because hopefully my sharing them can help someone who’s going through similar experiences to feel less alone, songs abouts the same topics really help me to feel less isolated when tackling those things. 

KALTBLUT: With your music reaching a global audience, how do you feel about being viewed as a role model within the LGBTQIA+ community?

It’s an honour you know I feel very lucky to be seen as that because it was LGBTQ+ artists who inspired and helped me when I was young and discovering music. 

KALTBLUT: Reflecting on your musical journey that started in north London and has taken you to international stages, what has been the most unexpected aspect of your career?

I don’t think I realised how beautiful the process of finding my people in terms of my team would be. Because I had some really shitty experiences when I was really young in the industry I’ve now curated people around me especially on the road touring who just inspire me endlessly most of them are women and Queer people and I just feel like I found family with them and I don’t think I expected to find such a sense of family and community with my fans either and that is such a beautiful gift that music has given me.

KALTBLUT: Looking forward, how do you see your music and personal philosophy evolving in the next few years? What new narratives are you interested in exploring?

Honestly, who knows? I only discovered the concepts and ideas and inspirations around the matriarchy album a year ago and look where I am now so it’s very exciting to have no clue what is gonna happen! That’s why I love being an artist. 


Matriarchy is out now: