We Spoke to GIRLI, London's Teenage Answer to Brooke Candy, About Her New Track "ASBOys"
"GIRLI is chaos - an explosion of girl power and growing up in London and being young and a bit mad".
GIRLI is a London-based singer/rapper/producer who mixes "girlish, rebellious vocals with cute electronica sounds to make quirky songs with attitude", according to her Soundcloud bio. As in your face as London's First Lady of Insolence: Lady Sovereign, as abrasive as PC Music, and as hyperactive as Daphne and Celeste on a Skittles high - GIRLI is an uber-millennial melting pot of influences that can only be described using epic hyphenated descriptions like “urban-cyber-electronic-sugar-dance-pop”. To crudely round it all up, though, she's kind of like a teenage Brooke Candy with a distinctly London twist, which is actually a much grittier outcome than you would expect from someone whose signature look is a pink tracksuit. Then again, her press shot shows her chilling in her bedroom and the walls are decorated with everything from Hello Kitty paraphernalia to the word "condom" written in red felt pen, which pretty much tells you all you need to know.
Below is the first chance to listen to her most recent track "ASBOys", featuring such lines as "I'm gonna drop your mother in the street". Read our Q&A with her below:
Noisey: Hello GIRLI. SO, how would you describe your music to people who haven't heard it before?
GIRLI: GIRLI is chaos - kind of an explosion of girl power and growing up in London and being young and a bit mad. I like to think I make pop and rap music that makes you think - and write lyrics that are quirky, observational and funny. Humour in music seems to be always in the boys court - girls are allowed to be funny too okay?!
Could you tell us a bit about where you grew up?
I grew up In North London in an area so boring you’d want to claw your eyes out but I feel so lucky to have been in London at all and been able to move around the city constantly. I love it too much, I have friends all over the city - from the grimiest to the cleanest parts, swanky houses to estates, suburban to central. From school (North London) to music college (East London) to playing gigs (all over) to just hanging out, I get to meet all sorts of people.
The one thing I don’t have time for in London is where people go because it's "trendy" - those areas are just fake and everyone's stuck up about being in the area everyone else told them was the shit.
When did you start making music and what made you want to do it?
I did really well in school grades wise and I was always seen as academic and a bit of a geek by everyone. But I got to a point where I thought, “OK, wait, so I do my exams, I go to Uni, I do my degree, I get a job and then I do the same thing every day for the rest of my life and live by some 9 to 5 rule book?” I had a bit of a mid-teen crisis thinking, “I don't want my life to be like that but what else am I good at?” Then I went to a Tegan and Sara concert (lame but oh so good) and saw these two mega cool ladies playing their music and thought this is too fucking cool. So I set up an all-girl band and we went around London doing all the dodgy gigs with our guitars it was very #indiepop and then they left me for uni and I decided to do it myself. I called myself GIRLI and did all the open mics in London religiously for like 6 months and then people started picking up on this girl who wears all pink and freaks out on stage, haha!
What's GIRLI doing that nobody else is doing?
I'm not scared to make pop music that actually says something - there's too much vacuous shit in the charts that says the same thing over and over again and I listen to it and I'm like, "Yeah but isn't there actual stuff you wanna talk about other than money and sex?" I want to make stuff that can go on the radio but still say something different.
If your house was on fire and you could only save three possessions what would they be?
My moon boots, my phone and my pink adidas tracksuit (duh). My dad can get the dog (jk).
If you had to pick a slogan to live by what would it be?
Why give a fuck what anyone else thinks? You're having way more fun than them.
Tell us a bit about the song. What's an 'ASBOy'?
An ‘ASBOy’ is the stereotypical London bad boy, the type who does all the cliché acts of rebellion that would get you an ASBO; plays his music really loud at the back of the bus on his own, rolls around stealing grannies handbags etc… I went to college in Stratford and there were a lot of boys who so wanted to be bad, but it was all an act to look hard - so me and my friend came up with this joke name for them, they were the "ASBOys" - it's actually a big fat corny pun - we thought we were so jokes. So I thought “why not write a song about the ASBOys?” It started off as a 16 bar skit and kind of turned into an attempt at ironically criticising the idea of ASBOs and the stereotypical image of an "antisocial youth" in London - because it's really a load of bullshit.
Where did the inspiration for the lyrics come from?
You can thank the official Met Police website for the lyrics(!) - I went on their page and found a list of all the ways you can get an ASBO and just wrote the bars around that.
But my friends and the people I hang out with are a massive inspiration for my lyrics too. My main "squad", if you like, are a bunch of rascals and whenever I'm rolling with them people look at us like we're gonna stab them. It's hilarious - we wouldn't hurt a fly but because we're playing music out loud and dancing in the street and climbing on roofs and occasionally skipping train barriers some people think we're a threat.