Gia Woods Talks Navigating the Industry, Madonna & Her Fever-Dream 'One Big Party' Video

Gia Woods
Angelo Kritikos

Gia Woods

Gia Woods, the 22-year old singer-songwriter who came out in 2015 with her single "Only a Girl,” is riding a wave of popularity alongside fellow queer pop artists like Hayley KiyokoKing Princess, Kehlani, and ROES (formerly Angel Haze).

An L.A. native from a traditional family, Woods’ versatile voice sounds equally at home on heavily produced pop tracks as it does in acoustic sets. She sings proudly queer jams like “Jump the Fence” and “Keep on Coming,” and like her contemporaries, seems in full control of her identity and destiny.

Now, Woods is back with an hypnotic music video for her latest single, “One Big Party,” premiering below. Directed by Jake Wilson, “One Big Party” is a dreamy, cheeky anthem which gives the impression that Woods may have decided to pour honey on the disk jockey to slow down the tempo. “You and me were one big party, wasn’t it the best of times?” Woods croons into a bedazzled mic as she remembers her past flame: fun times, but ultimately not healthy.

The video shows Woods and Co. getting a bit lit at a karaoke club, as they sip goldfish-filled martinis and chow down on late-night Chinese food, each partier dressed as one of Woods’ favorite icons: Marie Antoinette, Britney Spears, Elvis… Pikachu. Woods, in a bespoke mirror-ball suit jacket and matching slacks and cowboy hat, leads the fun with a grin and cool demeanor, even as she laments the girl she had to give up.

Billboard spoke with Woods about “One Big Party,” her inspirations, and the current state of the lesbian-inflected pop world.

Who is inspiring you musically right now?

I actually listen to mostly throwback tracks, I always have. I love those sounds. Madonna is my go-to icon. I've looked up to her since I was a confused little gay girl. I was like, "I want to be Madonna when I grow up!" She was definitely the stepping stone for me to pursue music. She’s just so comfortable with herself and she really owns her shit. She’s androgynous and sexy and a tomboy. She doesn't have one specific way of being. I was really mixed up when I was a kid, and Madonna gave me a ton of inspiration and direction, I feel like. I take a ton from her to this day!

What is “One Big Party” about?

The song is called “One Big Party,” because, for me, life seems like one big party, and everyone is just trying to distract themselves from themselves, all the time. That's what drinking, smoking, and even some relationships are: distractions. Things can be really exciting at first, but eventually you can become dissatisfied, and in the end you’re left with only yourself. Remember, distractions won’t make you happy; you make you happy, and in the end you are what you have.

What was the concept for the music video? It’s totally entrancing!

Thanks! I wanted it to be like a hazy, party-fueled fever dream. I'm surrounded by modern icons like Britney Spears and Pikachu, but then also some older icons like Elvis or Marie Antoinette. I’m also obsessed with old-school Hollywood vibe, so I try to incorporate that into the looks of my videos a lot.

And are you singing about anyone specifically?

Oh, yeah. I’m definitely talking about one past relationship in particular. Sometimes I feel like I manifest breakups to feed my creativity. Like when I put out “Heart Won’t Forget,” I had just gone through a crazy breakup. And I recently went through another messy breakup, and now “One Big Party” is out. It always happens that way!

Many singers use their relationships and breakups as songwriting fodder, so you’re not alone there. But unlike those singers, you are coming from a lesbian perspective. Do you feel you've ever had to change your creativity due to the pressures of being an out pop star?

When I released “Only a Girl,” I was very much like, "Fuck it. I’m going to do whatever I want, and I don't care what people think, or what they count as the norm." I just wanted to be myself, fuck what others say. That's been my mentality.

I come from an old fashioned Persian family where I didn't really get to be myself until I came out, so coming out was really about finding personal freedom for me. I haven't done many videos that deal with relationships recently, but that's not because I don't want to or don’t have those songs in me; I just don't want to be known for my sexuality alone. I want people to identify as however they do, and be proud of that, but I wish it could become more normalized so we wouldn't have to talk about it so much. But there's still a lot of pressure to conform, to not be "too much."

Queer singers are still not treated the same way that straight singers are.

Agreed. I want to be treated exactly the same way as straight girl pop singers are treated, but that doesn’t always happen. You’re always asking yourself, where’s the limit? What’s considered over the line for a lesbian pop star? It’s always on your mind.

And the line changes all the time, too.

Completely! It’s complicated and I’m so over it. I wish we could all just put stuff out there without thinking about how neatly it fits into boxes and categories.

Ideally, we wouldn’t need to talk about these issues at all, but because of how queer folk have to deal with society, we need to keep the conversation going.

Yes, and I know I need to keep discussing it to help my community, and I’m really happy that I can, and that I’m in a position to help. But there’s always a little part of me that wishes queerness were considered completely normal! Hopefully I’m helping that become a reality.