Gia Woods on Finding Her Identity Through Music [Q&A]

Gia Woods is taking the LGBTQ community by storm. Through her music, she's inspiring many from the community to embrace their own identity. Growing up in a strict Persian household, Woods struggled to find herself. But through music, she was able to express herself in ways she never thought were possible. She released her debut single, "Only a Girl", in 2016. The song served as her coming out song. Since then, Woods has been a voice to many going through the trial and tribulations of finding their true identity. 

 We were fortunate enough to get to know Gia Woods a little better with the release of her brand new single, "Naive". From what she's been up to during quarantine, to her experience with The Calvin Klein Pride campaign, she let us into her amazing life.

 Ones To Watch: First off, how are you doing during all of this craziness?

Gia Woods: I just spent the past 30 minutes cracking an egg on my forehead for TikTok content, so you tell me. Jokes aside, I'm actually doing okay though. I've been writing a lot. It feels very familiar because it reminds me of when I was younger and would lock myself in my room and write songs on my guitar all day. I was a loner!

What have you been doing to pass the time during quarantine? 

I haven't been watching too much Netflix, but I did rewatch Madonna's Truth or Dare documentary the other day. It actually pulled me out of a creative funk, watching this strong badass in one of the biggest moments of her career. Other than that, I've definitely been going on more walks. This pandemic has really made me appreciate the smaller things.

Who has been putting out some of your favorite music during quarantine? What have been your jams?

There's been so much good music to come out these past couple months, but I've actually found myself revisiting my old CD collection. I've been listening to Nelly Furtado's Loose, Green Day's Dookie and Queen's Night at the Opera a lot.

Have you been doing a lot of writing during your time inside?

Of course! I'm a writer, so that's one of the best ways for me to keep my brain busy. By the time we're out of quarantine, I'm going to have like five full albums written!

What are some of your hopes that everyone can take away from our time of social distancing, staying home, being with family, etc.? (i.e keeping the planet cleaner, appreciating family more, etc.)

There's definitely been more of an appreciation of the smaller things in life that we take for granted, whether it's phone calls with friends or getting out and appreciating nature. I also think this time has forced people to be more creative! I'm so inspired seeing the way people are creating some really cool stuff while they’re alone.

 Can you tell us a bit about The Calvin Klein Pride campaign and it meant for you to be a part of it? 

So, I actually have a crazy story… A year ago, I released a music video for my song "New Girlfriend," and when we were brainstorming, we were really inspired by the casual feel and black and white aesthetic of Calvin Klein ads. It's crazy that a year later, I'm in my own campaign…I feel like I manifested that in a weird way? It's also so cool to be in a campaign with so many badass trailblazers. Like Pabllo Vittar, are you kidding me? He's a drag queen in the most dangerous country to be openly gay, and here he is thriving and playing huge festivals. That's so inspiring. I still can't believe I'm part of this campaign. I'm waiting for someone to pinch me and wake up from this dream.

How has your heavy involvement and influence within the LGBTQ community influenced your music?

I'm so lucky to be a part of such a supportive community, and I'm honored to be able to provide representation for queer and questioning Persian youth that I craved so much growing up. Sonically, I'm not sure being lesbian really influences my music – but being Persian definitely has. Actually, some of the songs I've been writing lately have a strong Middle Eastern vibe to them.

Tell us a little about this new release! What steps did you take in the making of it?

I was getting out of a toxic relationship that felt like a never ending cycle of back and forth, but this time I knew it was really over. I remember going to the studio that day emotionally drained from this breakup. I kind of lost my identity, but writing this song really helped me remember who I was and made me fall in love with making music all over again. This is the kind of song I had been wanting to make for years.

What's your writing/recording process look like?

Usually I come up with the chords when I'm at home and I'll bring them to a studio session. This song was a little different. I worked with a producer duo called The Orphanage. I told them I had wanted to do something that had a Radiohead vibe to it and they nailed it almost immediately. As soon as I heard their riffs, me and my co-writer Barkley wrote the lyrics in an hour.

What was the inspiration behind the production?

I was really inspired by late '90s alt rock, like Radiohead and No Doubt. I think a lot of what we're hearing on the radio these days feels very clean and commercial, so I wanted to embrace a bit of a rough, raw sound.

Why the name 'Naive'?

I had two different ex girlfriends tell me that they never felt like I was as invested in the relationship as they were. During this studio session, I brought this up and we thought it was crazy that they both said that. I did care about them so much, but I wasn't naive… it felt like they had such high expectations of what our relationship should be and I thought it was naive to be that invested so quickly. The first verse really sums it up: "All my exes said the same thing / maybe they're right / I'm the high they're always chasing / but they're never mine."

 Can you give us a little background on the lyrics? 

My favorite line is in the pre-chorus, where I sing, "I'll love you, but let me do it recklessly." It's kind of saying that I'm going to love you with all that I can, but I didn't want my girlfriend to have expectations of what our relationship looked like. I think romance movies are so cheesy… I think it's healthy to have fights from time to time? Without it, what's the point? Where's the passion? That just feels boring to me. I feel like a lot of people fantasize about the ideal relationship, but I'm the opposite of that. I don't expect anyone to be perfect. Actually, I'd prefer that they're not.

 What are you really trying to get across with this release? What mark do you hope to leave for everyone listening?

This goes back to how I feel about pop music… I think a lot of the stuff we hear these days sounds so sterile and reductive. I think a lot of current artists are just copying their peers and that doesn't make sense to me. I wanted to reference the music that I grew up with. And with that, I hope my music has the same effect that Madonna and Green Day and Radiohead had on me when I was younger in that it was an escape for me. I hope my music can also be an escape.

 Lastly, what more can we expect from the great Gia Woods?

Well, I was supposed to release my debut EP, Cut Season, in June and then go on tour to support that, but coronavirus had a different plan for just about everyone on the planet. So we're reworking our release plan to figure out what makes sense. But if you like "Naive," you're going to love Cut Season…I promise that!

Stream "Naive" below:

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