Woods opens up to PEOPLE about writing the EP on a trip to Australia with Troye Sivan and the messy breakups that inspired its songs
Gia Woods is revving up for a new era.
On Friday, the rising singer-songwriter released her new EP Your Engine, a collection of seven high-energy pop jams inspired in part by a "chaotic love saga" she went through following multiple relationships with ex-girlfriends.
Since Woods, 27, went viral in 2015 with her debut single, the queer anthem "Only a Girl," the Los Angeles-based musician has only gotten more vulnerable in her lyricism, writing about the highs and lows of love, sex and life in Hollywood whilst continuously finding new sonic corners of pop to explore.
From the bombastic, self-referential EP opener "Gia Would" to the Eurodance-influenced title track and moody breakup songs throughout, Your Engine finds Woods making music perfectly primed for both nightclubs and late-night drives alone. The project also marks a new phase of the "Lesbionic" singer's career, in which she's confident in letting listeners into her world — no matter how perfect or messy it may seem at any given moment.
PEOPLE recently sat down with Woods to discuss Your Engine, writing the EP on a trip to Australia with Troye Sivan, the breakups that inspired its songs and when fans can expect her long-awaited debut album.
Your last two projects, Heartbreak County Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, explored love and fame in Los Angeles. What do you see as the central theme of this EP, Your Engine?
I wrote Heartbreak County about growing up in L.A., which has a lot of chaos constantly, but what do you do when you live among all this? Sometimes you don't get what you want or the girlfriend you want, and you realize some people are fake in L.A. and all these things I was really questioning in my life. I was like, ‘What's my biggest strength though throughout all this? It's to keep moving and growing.’ I've had some of the craziest things happen to me, and people ask like, "Gia, how did you get through that?" And I literally don't know. I wake up the next day and I'm like, ‘OK, well, moving on.’ That's something that I've really noticed in my life, and that’s how I birthed Your Engine.
The concept also traces back to what drives a car. How does it function? [An] engine. I need my engine to keep going. It’s kind of a fun play off of Heartbreak County, like your heart is what keeps you going. So, Your Engine also is kind of a symbol as your heart or your p---- or whatever. It's just empowerment.
How was the creative process different from previous projects?
I had some ideas, but then I went to Australia for a writing camp curated by Troye Sivan. They invited me to go, and I had no idea what it was about, but I showed up. He's there, and it’s a group of insanely talented queer artists. We did a full week of writing, and the song that came out of that entire week that I was obsessed with was “Your Engine.” It was the coolest thing ever because it was my first time being in Australia. I tried to write the title track in L.A., and it just wasn't quite there. When I came to Australia and wrote with all these people, I was like, “Holy f---ing s---. It was missing the Australian touch.”
What did you learn from working alongside Troye?
He was just such a positive energy. In Australia, I just kept bumping into him outside of the camp because we were staying at the same hotel, and he was so welcoming and inclusive. There's no ego, there's no judgment. He's very just nice and very welcoming. One thing I took from that was like, here's a good example of someone who's worked their ass off their entire life, and they're finally where they want to be, and they haven't let their ego or fame get the best of them.
After the camp was over, we had this whole meeting where everyone played the song they created. He basically paused the room — there were plates and stuff making noise — and he was like, "Can everyone just stop eating for a second, so we can listen to everyone's song from beginning to end, no noise?" He was so respectful. Such a sweetheart.
How would you describe your own metaphorical engine? What's driving you these days?
What drives me is the fact that there's absolutely nothing else in the world that I want to do but music. Music is the most universal, real thing. It’s what happens to you in your real life. I mean, some people write songs based on fantasy, but what keeps me going is I can always have something to write about. I always have s--- happening to me, and I've never had a therapist, really. I didn't have that many friends growing up. I always just naturally go to music. I love that [with music] no one can tell me not to do something. If someone's like, "No, Gia, you can't do that." I'm like, "Actually, are you sure I can't?" There are people waiting on your downfall, and I'm like, "Oh, I can prove you wrong in a heartbeat." Same with relationships. I've had breakups with girls, and I think they're thinking I'm going to basically drop dead and not be able to live my life or put out music because I'm too heartbroken to write. I love proving those people wrong, too.
That leads us to your recent single “Gia Would,” a super sexy song about how far you would go for a lover, but it also feels like a mission statement for you as an artist. What inspired that song, especially centering its lyrics around your name?
It was my first real session with [cowriter] Gabe Reali, and he was just saying, “Gia would.” And I was like, “Wait, Gia would.” We just kept saying certain things that Gia would do, and then it kind of naturally just came together. I came into that session really, really angry because I found out my ex-girlfriends were dating each other. So, I was just telling them about the entire chaotic love saga, and I was just like, “It’s really crazy because they're kind of talking so much s--- about me to other friends and trying to make me look crazy when it's like, you guys are crazy for doing this in the first place to someone behind their back while trying to maintain a friendship.” I was like, “Well, what if Gia Woods is f---ing crazy?” The song is taking all those statements that anyone or an ex has ever said about me, reclaiming them and being like, “OK, and f---ing what? Come for me, bitch. I don't care.”
The EP is filled with mostly fun and flirty lyrics, but then there's songs like “Somebody Else's Baby” and “Wdyd?” about the difficulty of exiting a relationship and moving on. What inspired those tracks?
For “Wdyd?” I would say that's kind of a combination of all the breakups I've experienced and also friendships, even business relationships with people [where] it just didn't work out. I really wanted that song specifically to kind of have a really big statement. It's like, what do you do when you don't get what you want? Well, you keep going. I love that it goes right back to the initial story of Your Engine. And then “Somebody Else's Baby” was definitely inspired by the last breakup I went through two years ago. It was inspired by a really brutal ending because I was fighting for a relationship that I didn't want to end. It was a very ongoing limbo period of seven months of this person basically saying, "Yeah, we can get back together. I just need time to see you act the way that you say you're going to,” and so that relationship still didn't end up working out. I actually saw this person make out with someone at a party while we were in this limbo period, and she didn't give a flying f---. I was literally so heartbroken.
Since you hit the scene and went viral with “Only a Girl” in 2015, you've put out several EPs, but when can fans expect Gia Woods' debut album?
I’ll know when it's time. I like to do things tastefully and take my time with getting all my concepts out. I already know what the debut sound is. It's just that I have so many ideas that I want to get out first that don't feel like an album. Once I get them out, then I'm ready.
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