By: Cortney Connolly
I was first introduced to Girlfriend Of the Year’s (GFOTY) music late in my freshman year by my dearest of college friends. To the beginner’s ear, the sounds of GFOTY rings out like a 2000s pop princess ballad. But listening closer, her ‘sick beatz’ and profound lyrics speak to everyone’s inner, full-throttle rager. Her music reminded me of my childhood in channeling the prospective daydreams of adult life.
I had the pleasure of speaking with GFOTY. We contemplated the emerging effects of quarantine on artists, particularly when inspiration comes from a love of going out. In our age of isolation, we also spoke about the pursuit of creative productivity, of which she has continued to convey. Her recent single ‘Here With Me’ was released last Friday, April 24th, in the lead up to her upcoming EP ‘Ham Chunks and Wine’. For GFOTY, she’s prioritized her activity on YouTube, where her videos contextualize her extraordinary persona, from her morning routine, to a tutorial on how to clean a sink.
CC: Quarantine has affected us all differently. How has isolation affected your productivity and inspiration as an artist?
GFOTY: The more it goes on, the more you kind of get used to it. Going outside is scary now — at the beginning, like when I saw the first week, I planned to do all of these videos every day. I told myself, “I’m going to make sure I’m productive”, but then I burned out really quickly. I later realized that these plans were unrealistic. I think that’s the wrong way; to create expectations for yourself. I think especially in this situation, you’ve got to take it however you can. Now, I’m way more relaxed while I’m actually being more productive. When I want to write lyrics, it comes more naturally instead of forcing myself. It’s getting there, but it’s definitely been tough. Everyone looks like they’re doing loads of stuff, and it’s easy to automatically put those expectations on myself. However, the way we are all grasping this new reality is different and it’s okay to take time to relax and cope. It’s been weird, but I’m good.
CC: Your music has an overarching theme of going out. What does GFOTY’s first night post-quarantine look like?
GFOTY: To be honest, when I first come out, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m probably going to have too many pre-drinks at my house out of excitement, which will ultimately end in me passing out after I leave the house. But, I’m really excited to go to the pub with my friends. I can’t even imagine the next club night, which was the one that I was meant to do just before [the quarantine] happened. I would be working, though, which is stressful, and very fun…I won’t be able to drink too much, which is good.
CC: Your music is how I would envision my dream night out in 2005. How does your music channel nostalgic motifs like the Starbucks cup and Red Bull? How do you use these themes of going out as your inspiration and narrative?
GFOTY: A lot of my songs are about partying, going out, and seeing guys. In my newest release, ‘Here With Me’, it’s actually kind of the opposite. It’s more about the downfalls of alcohol. I mean, you can’t necessarily tell that from the lyrics, but it definitely does inspire me. When I write my songs, I think of going out because I feel like it’s so easy for all the songs in the world to be about love. But why can’t we write songs about our love with partying? I was drawing some lyrics today actually and I was like, “What the hell is coming out with my fingers?” My brain is weird as shit but it works! I love it. I guess the inspiration is just me as a 13-year-old, and all the crazy things I’d do to get someone to fancy me. And to be honest, I hadn’t really grown to like anything new, so it’d be like a Red Bull as well as my party drink when I was 14. For the album cover of GFOTYBUCKS, I used the Starbucks cup because it was a huge part of my life. I love to bring in ideas that I can speak to with a lot of passion, and incorporate those ideas as imagery.
CC: When you are writing your music and recording in the studio, how do you envision your following to listen to your music? Is it a pre-game anthem? A club beat?
GFOTY: I’ve envisioned it everywhere and I’ve always wanted it to be in a group, like in the club, but, I’d love it to be played in shops as well. I just want it to be everywhere. I guess when I’m making it, I envision myself performing the song. However, when I’m listening to it, I’m always in my bedroom in front of a mirror. So I want it to be the kind of music where it makes people feel confident in themselves and makes them want to dance around and not really think about anything else. The main point of it is to make people happy.
CC: So, how did GFOTY become the Girlfriend of the Year? What did the progression of becoming the artist and creator you are today look like?
GFOTY: I started off as a writer. I had a blog where I wrote for a magazine on relationship advice. Around the same time, I was making songs on GarageBand. I found out my friend AG Cook, who’s PC Music’s founder, liked my music. It made perfect sense to make a GFOTY song. At that point, I had a tiny bit of a fan base, which induced the single ‘Friday Night’. As for my YouTube videos, I’ve always had fun doing them. I’m an awful editor, but I have always had that mindset where it doesn’t matter if you’re bad, as long as it adheres to the aesthetic you are trying to portray. I really have no clue what I am doing next, which is probably a bad thing in the music industry. But I really enjoy having the freedom to do what I want, when I want. I can do a video about rescue remedy and then tomorrow I can clean the sink. That’s just how it works with my brain.
CC: Your music has a distinct flair in which every song is a unique story, different from the rest. How do you go about streamlining them all into a singular album?
GFOTY: Every album is a compilation of pieces from mixes I’d done before. It’s interesting how all of them, even though they’re from different parts of me, kind of work together in some bizarre way. If you listen to ‘Poison’ from the ‘Call Him A Doctor’ EP, which was quite punky compared to all the other stuff that I’ve done, it’s interesting how it all coincides. That’s what’s nice about the stuff that I do. I feel like I have a sort of leeway to put songs together that doesn’t necessarily have to make sense to anyone but myself. A lot of people feel like an album needs to make perfect sense, and should have some sort of momentum and flow. But I just would find that really boring. A part of me would love to make a perfect album. But if it’s too perfect, it just doesn’t make sense for me as an artist.
CC: So, what’s next for GFOTY?
GFOTY: I have a new single, called ‘Here With Me’. It’s a slow-jam love ballad to going out and drinking — like a hangover song. Then at the end of May, I’ve got my EP, ‘Ham Chunks and Wine’, coming out, which is once again about partying and its downfall. I am working towards an album, but I don’t know when that’s going to happen because I can’t properly record without going into a studio. A bummer, but I’ve got most of the songs done. I was meant to be touring America, Australia and Europe in June, but obviously due to the virus, that will have to be postponed until the later part of this year.