Photos / Angelo Kritikos
Makeup & Hair / Talya Boz
Story / Emily Helwig
There’s a scene in many old Hollywood movie-musicals where the protagonist, having just experienced intense love or intense loss, breaks into song — only to be whisked away into a magical dream world, complete with set changes, backup dancers, and grandiose versions of the reality they’re actually living in.
Such is the vibe of Gia Woods’ new video for “One Big Party,” her latest release in a series of four singles and videos she’s given us so far in 2019.
We talked to Gia about her take on the old Hollywood dream sequence, her inspiration for the video, and share an exclusive behind the scenes look at the making of “One Big Party.”
The idea for the video, directed by Jake Wilson, was originally conceived by Gia and her long-time collaborator and creative director, Jesse Saint John. In it, we see a cowgirl-clad Gia getting ready to do karaoke. Seems normal, right?
Well, we’re soon joined by Britney Spears, Elvis, Pikachu, even Marie Antoinette — and it’s clear that we’re not in Kansas anymore.
“That’s the point of it,” Gia says. “It’s just such a weird dream. What are the odds that these people are in the same room?”
And doing karaoke, no less.
“I’ve always had really weird dreams,” she says. “There are usually little pieces of different places from my past, or different things that I’m obsessed with in my dreams.”
We see both instances take form in the video, along with an aesthetic that Gia says only got weirder once she teamed up with Saint John, Wilson, and their set director (see: goldfish martinis and bejeweled bananas). It’s fun, it’s eye-catching, and it’s got a killer tracking shot during the first chorus — complete with strobe lights and dance moves.
But while Gia may seem like a natural in front of the camera, it wasn’t always that way.
“In the beginning, I was so nervous,” she says. Like when I did my first music video [for “Only A Girl” — we’ll get to that later] I was just so camera shy. Over time, I feel like I was kind of forced to get used to it, by doing photoshoots and stuff like that.”
“It’s all about who you’re around, too. The director for this video, Jake Wilson, is one of the most amazing people and such a good time,” she says. “He always makes me laugh every time I work with him. So I felt so comfortable being around him.”
Of course, “One Big Party” is a metaphor for a relationship that, while amazing and passionate and intoxicating, ultimately doesn’t work out — so, Gia says, the dreaminess of that situation was a natural fit for this video.
“Sometimes when you’re in a relationship that isn’t the healthiest for you, it kind of feels like a dream,” she says. “Almost a year has gone by, and you’re just like, where did that year go? It’s almost like a dream that you can’t control. That’s why I felt like this video would make sense, because that’s how I really felt in past relationships.”
This same sentiment is echoed at the end of the chorus: “I guess the hardest thing about a party / is knowing when to say goodnight.” Gia notes that it can be hard to realize that you’re in an unhealthy situation, but sometimes you have to make that tough call to end it.
“I don’t think you ever really know. One day you just wake up, and you’re like, wait, I can’t be doing this. You realize that this isn’t a healthy situation anymore, or it’s not exciting anymore, and you kind of have to come to terms with it, whether you want to or not.”
Gia could easily be placed in a box. Identifying as a lesbian, she joins fellow queer pop artists like Hayley Kiyoko, Troye Sivan, and King Princess as a role model for young people exploring their sexuality through music and art. And that’s a role that she takes on with pride.
However, there’s more to Gia than just that.
“I don’t want to be known only for my sexuality,” she says. “I think [queer] artists shouldn’t feel like that’s all they have to talk about — that’s when it doesn’t feel normal. It should be a mixture of everything. This is just one aspect of me — not all of me.”
Sure, the singer’s first song was “Only A Girl,” a which ended up being her way of coming out to her parents (and to, admittedly, herself). And many women at her shows say that it’s helped them realize their own sexuality. But her personality — and her art — is more versatile than just that.
For example, Gia grew up in a traditional Persian family. Gia’s parents, who are originally from Iran, weren’t as attuned to mainstream pop culture in the US. They did buy Gia her first karaoke set, but it was her sister would end up pointing Gia on her path to the music industry.
She introduced her to Green Day (to this day, her go-to karaoke song is “Basket Case”), and secretly signed her up for the chorus elective in high school that would eventually lead to her getting scouted — something she never thought would happen.
“If you told little high school me that one day you’re going to be doing music videos, and you’re going to have to be on camera, I would laugh in your face. I was the shyest girl ever growing up.”
You’d never know it, now, especially in her recent music videos. Looking back, Gia’s proud of how far she’s come in the industry.
“I think at this time in my life,” she says, “I’ve just finally decided: This is what you get. This is me. I just have to own it. So recently, I just honestly feel really comfortable. I definitely feel more confident now.”
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