Pop star Gia Woods on break-ups, ‘sapphic revenge’ tracks and fighting for queer Iranians

Lesbian pop singer Gia Woods.

When pop singer Gia Woods went into the studio to record her latest EP, she was thinking about survival – and revenge.

The Persian, Los Angeles-based musician, who came out as a lesbian to her family – and the world – via her debut single “Only a Girl” in 2016, had recently split up with a girlfriend.

“I always go through break-ups. I’m cursed,” she laments to PinkNews. “I just dated people who think they have [the] right to control my emotions after the relationship ends.”

However, there is a beauty in heartbreak, she maintains. “I always have so much to write about.”

This time around, things were messier than usual. That’s a bit difficult to believe, considering her moody debut EP Cut Season, released in 2020, focused on a different but particularly toxic relationship.

But on the throbbing, electronic beat of EP Your Engine’s lead song, “Gia Would”, she warns: “Gia would follow you home… Gia Woods’ crazy, betcha know.” Lyrically, the track is akin to Glenn Close’s Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction. Hide your bunnies.

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“With ‘Gia Would’ specifically, I was going through such a rough, sapphic break-up with two exes who ultimately started dating, which is insane,” she reveals.

The betrayal hurt, of course, but instead of letting it fester and turn into something darker, she “fought back” by heading to the recording room. “I had a whole therapy session in the studio,” she smiles. “I was feeling anger, but I was also really motivated to write a ‘f**k you’ song. I just remember feeling so empowered that day.”

As a result, “Gia Would” was written within an hour. The star didn’t warn either of her former partners that she would be writing about them. “I couldn’t do that, because it didn’t really end on good terms,” she admits. And although she was nervous about how they might react, she felt a sense of freedom. 

“The empowering part was [that] I haven’t spoken to these people but [I’m saying] here’s where I’m at and this is how I feel, and you guys can take it however you want.”

For Gia, the rest of the EP was less about the despair that comes when a relationship ends, and more about how you can pick up the pieces.

On the final track of the seven-song EP, club banger “WDYD”, she urges: “What do you do when you’re falling apart? What do you do with a broken heart?” On the disco-infused, Dua Lipa-esque “Elevation”, the EP’s best track, she’s already moved on, singing: “Baby, won’t you ease my mind? Press your skin on mine.”

The singer says: “This project was a point of view of, ‘OK, I went through all this stuff, how do I keep myself going? What are the things that drive me? How do I get up every morning and continue to do what I do?'”

Your Engine is Gia’s most straightforwardly electronic dance music release to date. As she puts it, she’s in a “dance era” that she’s not sure she’ll ever get out of. “You can never get over dance music. It always just hits,” she says, adding that she was inspired by her unrivalled idol Madonna as well as “When Love Takes Over”-era David Guetta.

In future, she hopes to infuse her music with her heritage. She was raised in what she describes as a traditional, conservative Persian household, and, although she grew up in LA, she now feels she’s “becoming more aligned” with her culture. 

“I want to start incorporating Persian music mixed with dance, and finding my own lane in that,” she says.

Her biggest goal is to be able to go to her homeland, Iran, and perform as an out, queer artist.

“They are so old-fashioned and stuck in such a bad system. The views on our community… it’s just disgusting.

Same-sex relationships are punishable by death in the Islamic West Asian nation.

As a lesbian with a public platform, she believes it’s her responsibility to empower the community who look up to her – including queer Iranians

Gia Woods.
Gia Woods want to be able to perform in Iran. (Brian Ziff)

“My goal is to one day to perform there and find a community within Iranians, because I know there are so many of us out there who aren’t in a space like this, where they can be themselves and not be killed.”

Getting the chance to connect with LGBTQ+ people in her home country would be “life-changing”. In the near future, she’s planning a music video that will intertwine her heritage with her queerness.

“I don’t want anyone to ever not know that that’s where I come from, because I’m so proud of where I come from,” she says. “Even though there’s so much s**t that comes with that, I really do love my heritage.”

While the political climate for LGBTQ+ folk on US soil isn’t exactly great, in recent years the music industry has at least welcomed an abundance of queer talent, and particularly queer women.

This year’s biggest single, “Flowers”, is by a queer woman, Miley Cyrus, while 2023’s breakout star, rapper Ice Spice, is bisexual.

And at the Grammy Awards in February, Kim Petras made history by winning the best pop duo award with non-binary British artist Sam Smith.

Having come out via her music, Gia has witnessed a wave of musicians able to thrive authentically and proudly. How does it feel to see how far the industry has come?

Gia Woods.
Gia Woods’ new EP Your Engine is out this week. (Brian Ziff)

“Growing up, I didn’t see many LGBTQ+ artists to look up to,” she says. In some ways, she wishes she was born in a time when upcoming queer artists won’t have to fight as hard for space, and can see themselves in the musicians who dominate stages and win awards.

“Within those artists, other artists find comfort. I think that’s why so many people are opening up. It’s really needed, especially with women. There aren’t that many mainstream pop girls who are fully gay or fully out.”

Your Engine is out now.

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