GIRLI photographed by Jemima Marriott for The Untitled Magazine wearing a dress by r.l.e House

GIRLI’s power comes from speaking her mind, and she has a lot to say. “Vulnerability is rebellion” according to the artist, also known as Amelia Toomey. It is that kind of inward thinking that truly sets her apart as a rule-breaker. With the courage to admit she doesn’t have it all figured out when it comes to her identity, her boldness transfers to her unique sound. GIRLI’s electropop and punk style recontextualizes the scope of much of modern pop music, expanding the boundaries of the genre to include the music of tomorrow. Clad in her signature hot pink, she uses her music to forge a new femininity, one that is bold, angry, and unrestrained. Her twin EPs, Ex Talk and Damsel in Distress, captivate with strong electronic sounds, bass drops, and vulnerable lyrics, something she hopes to continue to harness as she evolves. GIRLI finds rebellion not only in her actions but in the unknown.

Read the GIRLI full interview from “The REBEL Issue” below.

GIRLI photographed by Jemima Marriott for The Untitled Magazine wearing a top by RUIRUI Deng

Your music has been described as “treading a line between catchy and deliberately discomforting.” How would you describe your sound in your own words? 

I’ve tried to find the words to describe my sound for so long, and this year, I realized something: it’s constantly evolving, which makes it hard to describe! I would call my lyrics relatable and vulnerable, but not sad; you can dance, cry, scream, and feel the feels when you listen to my songs. When it comes to my sound, it’s pop music, but GIRLI-fied. 

You’ve mentioned that your work is focused on redefining pop music using themes of identity and femininity. How do you accomplish that goal? 

My music mirrors what I’m going through in my life, and right now, I’m a young woman in her 20s trying to figure out what the fuck I’m doing every day. Identity is a huge question mark in my mind every minute of every day. Who the fuck am I? Femininity comes into that too because it’s something I’m figuring out how to express on my own terms, not how society wants me to express it; there’s a lot of negativity attached to it in patriarchy. All my lyrics at the moment are about these questions. 

You released two EPs in 2021, Ex Talk and Damsel in Distress. Can you tell us about their themes? 

Both these EPs are about healing and how painful and uncomfortable it is. Ex Talk is about heartbreak and trying to find yourself again after being hurt by the people you love. Damsel in Distress is a continuation of that, with songs about confusing and heartbreaking situations and how I was trying to figure them all out. 

What were the biggest takeaways you wanted to share with listeners through these two projects? 

I wanted them to know that you can be hurting and still be strong. I was in so much pain when I wrote those songs, but writing them inspired me to get through the shit. I hope listening to them helps people get through whatever they’re going through.

GIRLI photographed by Jemima Marriott for The Untitled Magazine wearing a dress by Stevie Crowne and boots by Steve Madden

Tell us about “Dysmorphia,” one of your latest songs. What was the inspiration behind its lyrics? 

I struggled with an eating disorder from the ages of 18 to 20, and I’ve experienced body dysmorphia since I was 18. It’s something that warps my perception of myself, and I never knew how to put my experience into lyrics until one day, it just exploded out of me. I was tired of people telling me to just “love myself more” when they didn’t understand what I was going through. That’s such an easy thing for someone who isn’t experiencing it to say. 

What can you tell us about what you are working on right now? 

Big songs; huge pop songs that explode in your ears. My next collection of songs is all about the search for yourself, your identity, and your worth. And they’re big bops. 

Do you consider your sexual identity to be an important part of your music?

I do, but that’s simply because it’s a big part of who I am. It influences who I love and who I write music about, and my connection with my LGBTQ+ friends and fans is very important to me. 

What challenges did you face with your music during the pandemic?

I hate writing songs on Zoom. A lot of artists did it during the lockdowns, and I tried, but no songs came from it that I really liked. I need to be in a studio, feeling the energy and vibe of people in person, to make music. I didn’t release any music during the pandemic; I waited until summer 2021. I did have a lot of livestream performances though. Those kept me motivated.

Can you tell us about how you started working with your new record label, AllPoints? Has the transition presented you with any new opportunities or challenges?

I got dropped by a major label that I’d been signed to since I was 17, and AllPoints was the first label that showed interest in me after that happened. I remember being so excited about how refreshing its setup is. My A&R is a woman. Over half my team there are women. They’re excited about my ideas, and they’ve allowed me to have full creative control over my music. Being with a major label for four years and starting my career as a teenager really stripped me of so much of my confidence, and being with an indie label and such an amazing team these last couple of years has been so important for my personal and artistic growth.

You’ve described your iconic pink hair and style as “angry, loud, and outspoken.” As you evolve alongside your personal style, will those three traits always be present? 

Always. But I also think I’m finding new ways to channel my anger and my beliefs. I can feel myself being empowered by quiet confidence too, something that doesn’t always require me to scream and shout. I feel myself becoming a powerful woman in my own way, and I’m realizing that strength comes in so many forms. 

You’ve identified as a pansexual women, but stated that “right now I feel like a woman, but that may change.” How does your identity inform your music, and how do you see it evolving?  

These days, I use the term “queer” or “bisexual” to describe my sexuality. When it comes to my gender, I’m a woman, but I think that gender is something that you always explore as you grow and change as a person.

GIRLI photographed by Jemima Marriott for The Untitled Magazine wearing a dress by Stevie Crowne

Do you consider yourself to be a rebel? What does it mean to be a rebel today? 

My biggest rebellion at the moment is answering the question of “Who are you?” with “I don’t know.” In a world obsessed with people being fully developed and finding their “brand” and “life purpose” by the age of 25, I think it’s a rebellious move to admit that you have no idea who you are yet. Vulnerability is rebellion. 

You’re a role model for challenging societal stigmas. Are there any words of wisdom you live by that you can share with us? 

I try to remind myself that I’m made of literal star dust and meteors, and that everyone else is, too. That puts some things into perspective. 

What else can you tell us about the future of GIRLI? Do you have any performance plans or new releases that you can share with us? 

There’s new music, new visuals, new attitude, new everything. It’s GIRLI time! 

To read our print feature on GIRLI, pick up your copy of “The REBEL Issue” here.

Photography by Jemima Marriott for The Untitled Magazine
Styling by Rebekah Roy
Make-up by Michelle Webb
Hair by Diego Miranda
Styling assistant Melody Rawles

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