Ask A Gay Icon: Gia Woods Gets Career Advice from Nelly Furtado

Gia Woods and Nelly Furtado
Woods: Jenna Marsh. Furtado: Ben Guzman.

Gia Woods and Nelly Furtado

This Pride Month, Billboard is connecting queer artists with some of their musical heroes and biggest influences

How can you help LGBTQ people succeed in the music industry? One easy step: Share your networks and make introductions. So for Pride Month, Billboard is connecting queer artists with some of their musical heroes — who also happen to be major allies to the community — to get career advice.

Here, rising pop star Gia Woods — who's readying her upcoming Cut Season EP after dropping sparkling tunes like “Only a Girl” and “One Big Party” — gets tips on staying true to yourself from Nelly Furtado, who released her most recent studio album, The Ride, in 2017 (and whom Woods cites as an influence on tracks like “Naive”).

Have you ever written a song that no one else believed in? How did you deal with that?

Hmm, yes, one time I handed in a song to a songwriting contest and didn’t hear back — but I think it ended up on my first album a couple years later. Sometimes you are literally writing songs for the four walls of your bedroom until they reach people in some way.

What’s your advice for building a loyal fan base?

I don’t think there is a magic equation — perhaps giving your very best and very all at every live show is a start. Make sure nothing is left when you leave that stage. Give. But then make sure to make some quiet time for just you afterward.

How do you maintain such a strong identity while experimenting with so many genres?

I think the key to keeping some sort of identity in the music business is singing from the heart. It doesn’t matter the genre — if you make it your own, and it’s true to you, it will feel cohesive in some way.

How do you deal with pressure to compromise your artistry or values?

Compromise is compromise when it feels like that, so get in touch with your inner compass. The secret is listening to people you respect but remembering who you are at all times.

Your album Loose is one of my all-time favorites. Nothing really sounded like it when it came out. What influenced it sonically?

Loose was inspired by many things, but just to name one influence: The self-confidence and empowerment of Janet Jackson’s album janet.