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From switching up music labels and learning to skateboard to announcing a new roster of tour dates, Girli, aka Milly Toomey, has been on a non-stop mission. Now, as the Londoner takes some downtime to recuperate, the musician is taking time to reflect on what’s next. 

“I saw this really beautiful quote the other day that – I’m gonna butcher it now – but it was like ‘Nature always achieves what it wants to achieve. It just takes its time,’” she recites over Zoom. Gardening, for the artist, has become the go-to hobby helping her navigate her newly paved path. 

In the follow-up to her new EP, Why Am I Like This?, GAY TIMES caught up with the singer to hear how the next chapter of her career is going.

Girli, hello! What have you been up to lately?

There’s been lots going on. I got back from my F*cked It Up tour just finished and that was a big kind of couple of months. We did USA, Europe and UK. Post-tour, I’m always there’s like a week where I feel completely lost. I’ve readjusted, which is good and I have my EP out and we announced our next tour so it’s all on the go.

You’re now bringing a new era to life and a new image. How have you been finding this change? 

It’s been amazing. It took me a while to recover. I signed very young – I was just over 18 – and I signed my first record deal with this major record company. At 18, you never know who you are. musically, I didn’t know either. They signed an artist who was quite punk and experimental and tried to make me into a hit machine and it didn’t work because this is not me. After I was dropped from that record label, it took me a while to want to make music again and to feel confident in myself. I felt like the music industry didn’t care about me and had forgotten about me.

Now, I’m at this place where don’t fucking care what the music industry thinks about me. My fans have been there for the whole time. I signed to a new label and one of the first songs I released with them, ‘More Than a Friend’ blew up and became my biggest song. It’s so interesting how people discover you from the outside and that you’re always a new artist to people. This is about making music, connecting with people and playing shows – I want to do that forever. 

What has your patience with your art and your career taught you about yourself? 

I’ve had to dig really deep and figure out how to find my own worth in the art rather than in numbers, awards or invites. The music industry is built on hype and who’s hot right now. It can be so easy to become disillusioned and feel like I’m not important because I’m not like the tip of the month right now. I’ve written songs about it! I struggle with a lot of impostor syndrome and, a lot of the time, I can’t see when I’m doing well. 

I realised, whatever you see yourself as, you encapsulate that and you become it in your own head. I had to realise that cannot define how I feel about myself because the thing with hype is that it doesn’t last long. When you’re up there, it can feel amazing but it’s unsustainable. I want to do this for my whole life. So, for this to be sustainable, I need to figure out how to feel good about myself all the time. I found that by making it about the music again, which is the reason I got into it in the first place, I could. 

What has been your favourite Girli song to date and why?

My favourite song that I’ve released is called ‘I Don’t Like Myself’, which is off my Damsel In Distress EP. I wrote it in Stockholm and I left the studio embarrassed that I even spent time writing that song. Then, a month later, the producer resent it and I got goosebumps. It ended up going on the EP and it became a fan favourite. It was then synced on a Netflix show ‘Fate: The Winx Saga’ and a lot of people were listening to it. 

I realised, of all the songs I’ve written, this one really captured how I feel about social media and my self-esteem. There’s a lyric in it: ‘I would never ever judge anyone else. Not in the way that I judge myself‘. The song is this sad but eureka moment of realisation. I would never do this to anyone else. It’s pretty simple but powerful. 

You’ve been leaning further into your personal side in your new music. How did that creativity surface on your new EP? 

The EP is a mix of songs that weren’t written to relate to each other but they came together. I had written ‘I Really Fucked It Up’, which was the first single. I was like ‘This feels like the main track of something’. I found three other songs that I’d written a few months before it, which were ‘Cheap Love’, ‘Impostor Syndrome’, and ‘Inner Child’. For me, they’re all about figuring yourself out and figuring out your own self-worth.

‘I Really Fucked It Up’ is about owning the fact that I’m a bit toxic sometimes and there’s some shit I need to figure out about myself. I’ve messed up some of my relationships because I can’t stop being a piece of shit sometimes. ‘Imposter Syndrome’ is all about viewing yourself in a fucked way and trying to come to terms with that. ‘Inner Child’ is about figuring out how to find your own self-worth when you’re surrounding yourself with people who treat you like their therapist. ‘Cheap Love’ is an outlier because this EP can’t be too depressing. The other three all relate to each other in the sense that they’re all about looking at yourself in the mirror in quite a painful way. 

You’ve recently been on tour and you’ve announced new dates. What do you enjoy most about being on the road?

It’s been amazing. I was going to so many places for the first which is kind of crazy. I’d never played a show in the US before this tour. I’d never played my own headline shows in Europe. I’d done some support slots and some festivals, but this was the first time doing my own tour in those places.

There was this real emotion and amazing energy on the tour. I’d go to the merch stand every night and say hi to fans. With social media and all the numbers, you do forget that music connects people. The things happening in my life connect with things happening in my fans’ lives. I’m so happy that we’re going back to the US soon. Touring is so fun. My crew is all like women and we’re all such good friends. We’re all experiencing new things together – we’re all really excited. 

What’s next for Girli? 

We’re doing a bunch of festivals over the summer, which is very exciting. We recorded the London Scala show so we’ve got a bunch of live versions that are going to be coming out from that. I’ve been making my vlog, my YouTube vlog, which is called ‘I’m Obsessed With’. There are episodes from Paris and Berlin that are coming out. Now, we’re plotting the next Europe and UK tour. I want to come back to all those places and I’m also working on new music.

Girli’s new EP, Why Am I Like This? is available to buy and stream now.