LA-based Persian gay singer and songwriter Gia Woods has released the “Naive” single just in time for the start of Pride, and the debut Cut Season EP is on the way. We chatted about all that…
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you start singing and performing, and when did it get serious?
GIA WOODS: I was always involved in music growing up — I was in a lot of school things like choir and orchestra. It wasn’t until high school that I actually got scouted through one of my choir performances. What’s crazy is that it was during the time I was trying to figure out what college I wanted to go to, in which state. My manager discovered me and I realized during that time that I had to fully give it a shot and go for it, or I was never going to. So I got really lucky. I had no plans to pursue music. I wanted to be a dentist actually.
Describe your sound…
I would describe it as alternative pop music. There are tones of darkness, it’s kinda sensual, but for the most part alt-pop.
You say that the songs are a journal for coming out…
I guess it started when I wrote my first song “Only a Girl.” I basically was writing a lot in the studio when I got scouted, and I wasn’t using any pronouns like he or she. I was always staying away from that. I wasn’t even really honest with my own team. When I first got my team together, I was very closed off and closetted. No one knew about my sexuality. It wasn’t until a conversation I had with my manager at the time, I was like, “I have to tell you something, I haven’t been honest with you, I’m gay.” They were like, “Why have you not told us this? This is crazy. Of course we support you.” I felt so incredibly lucky to have them be understanding at that time, because I feel like a lot of people weren’t open about their sexuality. So I didn’t know how they were gonna take it. So that was the first step towards accepting my sexuality. After that, I had a session in the studio and I said I needed to write a song about this. Not only for everyone in the world but for myself — I wasn’t accepting of it for so long because I was so conditioned to not do what I was doing. I was always told that it’s not ok because I was raised in a very old fashioned Persian household. I think that was the moment where I was like, “Oh it’s ok.” After that, I wrote “Only a Girl.”
How did your family react?
It’s weird because my parents, when they saw the song and the video, they were not convinced that it was honest. They thought I was doing it for attention, or trying to get views because of my sexulity. They didn’t think it was anything, and that definitely affected me in a lot of ways. For the most part, I think my relationship with my parents is kinda like a wall. I know they know by now, but it’s kinda unspoken. If I’m bringing home a partner, I don’t say “my girlfriend.” They’ll say, “Oh, your friend.” So I guess it’s still very backwards and weird, but I also understand they’re old fashioned and it’s going to take some time for them to get used to it. Even though it’s been quite a few years. I think they’ll believe me when I had a wedding and it’s right there. They still have a long way to go, but at least it’s not completely unknown.
What is the single “Naive” about…
It’s crazy, because I wrote it about something two ex girlfriends said to me. They said that they felt like they never were my girlfriends, which is so weird to hear because what does that even mean? I think they felt like I wasn’t committed to them, but in reality I was fully invested. That was really hurtful to hear, but I think I realized what the issue is. I don’t fantasize about the future when I’m with someone. I don’t think about what’s next. Getting married, buying a house, having kids — I don’t think about that stuff. I’m more about living in the moment. It felt to me like they were naive because it was fantasy and I was in the moment. That’s what inspired the song.
You have an EP on the way — Cut Season — is this song representative?
Yeah. This whole EP is about my four year relationship ending. That was the longest back and forth situation I’ve ever been involved in. It was a really hard breakup for me because I spent most of my adulthood with this person. I was left with so much baggage emotionally. I think I had ignored my problems for so long that when I got out of it, I was just feeling every level of emotion. I went to the studio and was writing, and the things coming out were things that I wanted to come out of my life. It all had a theme — all the songs ended up writing itself into a theme. I’m a big album listener — I like listening to a cohesive body of work. It was really cool to do that. Enter my world.
How did you get involved with the Calvin Klein Pride campaign…
My team emailed me to say that Calvin Klein wants to feature me in this campaign, and I was like, “What?” I manifested this. The music video for my song “New Girlfriend” is inspired by Calvin Klein, black and white. So this was really cool.
How will you be celebrating Pride?
I know there will be some digital Pride events. So I’ll probably be in my room, with a glass of rosé or something, celebrating from my bedroom. What more can I do? It’s annoying that we can’t be out, that hurts because this is one of my favorite months of the year and I can’t celebrate it. But we can still celebrate in spirit indoors. I’ll definitely be tuning in to all the digital stuff.
“Naive” is out now.