By Grace Lauson
Gia Woods is a 23-year-old pop singer from LA who was discovered during her high school talent show in 2014. Her life changed when she released her first single “Only a Girl” in 2015 which became an immediate hit. WTBU journalist Grace Lauson chatted with Woods about her EP, her past collaborations, and how COVID-19 has affected her and many other musicians.
Grace Lauson (GL): I know you must be very busy and this may be a difficult question, especially with the current pandemic, but can you walk me through what an average day in your life is like?
Gia Woods (GW): Yeah! It’s crazy. I feel like I am somehow busier since the start of the pandemic which doesn’t really make sense. I usually just have a lot of daily tasks in terms of music and promoting my material. There are always new things coming in and it kind of feels like I’m doing the promo run for my EP right now. But aside from all of that, I usually love going on hikes and I am always writing music throughout the day. I also love food. I eat a lot of food. I binge eat way too much. It’s not even normal. I read a bit too and I have like 4-5 cups of coffee a day. It’s actually really not normal. But yeah, that is daily life right now. Just drinking coffee, eating a lot of food, being inside, seeing some friends here and there but that’s also hard because I feel like everyone is so busy right now. You kind of squeeze in that little time you have to see friends but everyone’s schedules are all over the place. So, that can be difficult.
GL: How has COVID-19 affected your life as an artist?
GW: Well, I’ve just been doing different things. It has really affected my daily life because I used to be in the studio maybe 4 times a week and I would spend 7 hours there just writing and making music. I am going to slowly start doing that again once studio space has opened up a bit more and I can trust the people that I am in the room with. Basically, if I’m not performing, I am always in the studio. So, that has been a major difference.
GL: What is your process of making a track from start to finish?
GW: It depends on who I am working with but I usually write a lot of my songs by going into the studio already having an idea. I spend a lot of time alone trying to write and I record a lot of things on my phone. Then, I collect a bunch of them so when I go to the studio I am not just like, “What am I going to write about today?” I like to be prepared. I write a lot about the things going on in my life. It is like a journal for me. My best songs come when I bring in the idea and it’s something I am personally experiencing that I really want to write about.
GL: Do you ever get writer’s block or stuck when creating new music?
GW: I’m not going to lie. I recently have had a bit of a writer’s block. It’s because I’m trying to figure out what the hell to write about. Like not much is going on right now so I don’t have anything to write on. Usually, I would go out at night and things would happen to me and then I’d write about them. So, being isolated and not having a normal social life has definitely affected my writing. Usually, I don’t really get writer’s block and I am pretty consistent with knowing what I want to say. Now, I am trying to force myself to find ways to go do things or make something happen on purpose just so I can fucking write about it.
GL: Do you get anxious or nervous before releasing a track or is it just excitement at this point?
GW: It is a bit of both. I am always excited no matter what because it’s a song that I have been creating for so long and no one has heard it yet. But, it is weird because I have lived with the song for so long and then it’s just put out. I’m always excited but I have already felt that song and experienced it. That’s also the beauty of music though, in that you put it out for other people to experience and connect with. It’s like, you release it to yourself and then to everyone else and that’s an amazing feeling. I get nervous just a little bit because my music is about my life and releasing it puts me in a vulnerable position. Or, if it’s about someone that I dated, I get nervous for them to listen to it. I tend to think about that a lot actually. So, it’s interesting but I am also always really excited.
GL: I see that you have had a heavy presence in Pride where you’ve been a part of brand campaigns and even performed! How did you initially get involved in this and what is it like to be such an icon within that community?
GW: Yeah! For the Calvin Klein brand deal, that was something that just happened. They just reached out and I was so shocked that they were asking me to be a part of their campaign. I couldn’t believe it. For me, representation is extremely important because I never felt like I saw any queer role models in the media when I was growing up. I am so glad now that I can be that example for some people. It’s so important that kids growing up know they are not alone in what they are experiencing. So, I always want to be involved in any way I can in Pride because I never had that. It is definitely the reason why I am so okay with being open about it today.
GL: Was there ever a moment where you really felt like you were starting to get recognized for your music?
GW: I guess that moment for me would really be right after I released my first single. I did not expect anything to happen from that song. I just wrote it and thought it was a great song to put out as my first record. I thought it was literally me in every way possible and I was able to kind of introduce myself to the world through it. I put it out thinking nothing was going to happen but then, in a couple of days, I began to see it get attention. I was genuinely so confused but that’s the moment I would say where I just put my music out into the world and started getting attention from it. It was really crazy to watch it all happen because I have heard a lot of artists tell stories about putting out music and how it takes a long time to get a following. However, for me, it was so fast and I couldn’t even believe that those things happen. I always thought that there had to be something else helping when smaller artist’s songs got popular. But, I guess it is just possible to put something out and for it to really just get its own attention. So, that was really cool to see.
GL: When you release a song, can you ever estimate how much success it’s going to have?
GW: It’s a shot in the dark every time. You never know. It’s weird. I try not to think about it too much. A song will do well if it really connects with a lot of people. My music is always something that is personal to me and if people connect with it, then that’s great. It is also just a matter of time for something to click universally, on a bigger level. I never know at this point but I think that’s the fun part too. I have experience getting that attention from success. So, I know how great it feels but it’s really just putting it out and not thinking about it too much. When it happens, it just happens. So, I try to be very open-minded because it’s just a matter of time and a matter of some records being able to connect more than other records.
GL: I know this must be such a dream come true for you but did you ever consider doing anything other than music?
GW: I always wanted to do music since I was really young. I think I considered other jobs a little. Like maybe being a dentist. I don’t know why. I really don’t know shit about that. That was weird but that was one of the things I was thinking about. I also thought about something to do with tech. I would always fix things around the house. Like when TVs, phones, and computers, would break down, I was always the person in my family that people called to fix it. So, if I wasn’t doing music, I would maybe be doing something in tech, I guess.
GL: You have had some pretty eccentric music videos that definitely show a lot of creative expression. How do these ideas get thought up and what is it like to be on set for one of these?
GW: Yeah! For creative direction, I usually like to be in communication with the person I’m going to do it with. So, for work on my EP videos, I met this girl named Jenna Marsh who did a video with me before for my song “Feel It”. She was one of the creative directors that I felt like I really connected with on a personal level. Aside from just working, we actually developed a friendship. It was just so cool to connect with someone in the industry that wants to work with you and create really cool art. It’s just amazing that she is actually into music and not just looking at this work as a job. So, I think for me, it is really important to collaborate with people who are actually your friends. For this record, we kind of just made all these concepts before we shot the video. We spent hours and hours over about 4 months putting together all the artwork and making mood boards. That is something I usually do a lot to keep the work consistent and make it cohesive. I really like mood boards. I made a bunch of them for each of the songs and then one big overall mood board. I am such a visual person. 90% of the time when I write music, I have a visual in my head already. I don’t start shooting until I have it all together and that’s how it looks cohesive. I don’t like shooting things as I make it because then it will probably go in a different direction.
GL: Has the team of people you work with been the same since the start of your music career?
GW: When I first started putting out music, I was working with my creative director, Jesse Saint John. He is actually someone I wrote my first record with, “Only a Girl”. He just is an incredible artist overall. He really does everything and he was my first collaborator in the music industry. He is kind of the one who stuck around through every release of mine, and we have always had creative concepts together for every release. I then added Jenna Marsh when I finally was like “I want to be a pop star” and I knew I wanted to do a full EP. So, I brought her in to help overall and just look at everything. It is nice to have someone who can take an executive look at everything I am doing. I always try to work with people that I feel are making projects that are a little different than others. So, I kind of always keep the same crew but I add little pieces in. But also, sometimes it’s more random. For example, if I want something to be 3D, then I will go look for someone who is a 3D artist that I can add to the team. However, I usually like sticking with the same people just because I feel really close to them and love making art with them. I think, eventually, I will try opening the doors more and collaborating with more people. But for right now, I just don’t see the reason why. I have a great little family.
GL: I know you did a collaboration with Matoma back in 2016 that became very popular. How did that collaboration come about and what was it like working with him?
GW: So, I actually wrote that song in the studio, just for myself, on piano or guitar. Somehow, Matoma and Kygo both heard it. Both were interested in taking the song but then the Kygo deal didn’t work out. So, Matoma took the song. We then started working on it more. It’s crazy because the song sounds completely different from when I initially wrote it. It was a really cool track. I loved my version but I loved what he did more. I felt like what he did took it to the next level. It is just such an easy track. I think he produced it in just one day.
GL: Who are your favorite artists currently?
GW: I don’t really have specific music that I’ve been listening to lately. You know when you have a million different songs in your playlist and you listen to it on shuffle? So, for me, it’s always different. I guess right now, I am listening to a cool artist called Mk.gee and I actually have been getting back into listening to Coldplay. I kind of always go back into my old music and then add some new stuff and listen to both. But yeah, those are the people I have been listening to recently.
GL: What’s next for you? What do fans have to look forward to?
GW: Usually I would say, “Oh my god, there’s a tour coming!” but that can’t happen right now. So, I am really just getting ready to release the EP and I definitely will be doing some live stream performances. Everything is so weird right now. So, I don’t really know but I feel like I am just going to keep going and see where we end up in the world in general. But musically, it’s just getting ready for the EP to come out and hopefully, fans connect with it. I’m just so excited to be finally putting out my first ever project because it’s been so long. It’s really exciting. But I am also working on the next songs. So, that’s also something people can look forward to. I have to keep writing because that’s just something I love to do. I just love coming up with what I want to write about next. All I can say is that everything coming next is going to be really dope. I am really excited.
You can listen to Gia’s new music here.