It’s through this simple, yet brutal concept that Woods’ debut LP Cut Season (out today) was born. Each of the eight tracks off of the new project explore a different idea — ideas like “Ego,” “Hungry,” “Sabotage” and more — that Gia is carefully considering purging from her life. It’s a cut season, but not necessarily for people; rather, for your own, internal toxic tendencies. “Too young to feel this bad,” she sings in the album’s opening line. “Hoping so bad I’ll change.”
Just before Cut Season’s release, Woods answered Billboard’s 20 questions, speaking about putting together her first album, how she recently discovered she loves the TV show Friends, and her best tips for fans looking to have their very own cut season.
1. What’s the first piece of music that you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?
I was probably 8 years old when I bought my first CD, which was Dookie by Green Day.
2. What was the first concert you saw?
My first concert was Britney Spears during her Circus tour.
3. What did your parents do for a living when you were a kid?
My mom was a stay at home mom and my dad owned a popular Persian restaurant in West LA.
4. Who made you realize you could be an artist full-time?
My first manager who scouted me from my high school’s choir performance. It was during my senior year and right around the time I needed to make a decision about which college I wanted to go to. Because of my manager scouting me, I ended up not going to college at all and pursuing music full time.
5. What’s at the top of your professional bucket list?
I’ve always dreamed of going on a long European tour. Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you I’ve been talking about it for so long.
6. How did your hometown/city shape who you are?
I feel like growing up in LA shaped me as a person and an artist because there’s so many creative people here. From a young age I’ve been surrounded by people from all around the world and exposed to so much. I think that’s one really special thing about LA, there’s a little bit of everything here.
7. You’ve been releasing music since 2016, but Cut Season marks your official debut EP. Why did you wait until now to release this project?
When I put out my first song, “Only a Girl,” I wasn’t really prepared for the reaction that it would get. It was amazing but also overwhelming and I felt that I needed to take a step back and take the time to develop my sound. I wanted to really think about how I wanted to put music out — not just sonically but also visually. I took a break to develop my sound more, and in the middle of that process, I ended up getting a record deal. I took that opportunity and suddenly had more people to collaborate and develop with.
I started to really get my vision together, and as I was writing songs I started to realize what I was working on had the potential to be a full cohesive project, rather than just a bunch of singles. I’m the kind of person who prefers to listen to a full album rather than the singles. As an artist it’s important to me to be putting out a project that feels cohesive, and that’s why I took so much time with this one. I’m really happy with how it turned out.
8. The EP is all about purging toxic patterns and people from your life. What advice would you give to a fan looking to do a similar purge?
I think that going through a “cut season” isn’t just a one time thing in your life, it’s something that will continue to happen whenever you go through big periods of growth. My biggest piece of advice is just to always remember that it’s OK to walk away from people if you need to, even ones you thought you’d never walk away from. It could be a romantic partner, best friend, family member, as sad as that can be, it’s important to move forward in your life.
9. The singles of Cut Season focus on ideas and personality types, like “Hungry,” “Ego,” “Naive,” etc. Which of these do you identify with most?
I identify with “Ego” the most, because sometimes I feel like I can have a pretty big ego. I don’t think having an ego is always necessarily a bad thing, but there are definitely things I’m trying to be better about. I’m working on admitting and owning up to my mistakes, and also letting myself be more vulnerable.
10. What’s been your experience with self-isolation throughout this pandemic?
This period of self-isolation has been an eye-opening time for me. I actually ended up making a lot more cuts this cut season than I was expecting to. Times have been crazy, and it definitely put some of my friendships to the test. But I feel like I learned who my real friends I can really depend on are. And I’ve also learned how to be alone, which has been more of a growing experience than I could’ve imagined. Having to sit with my own thoughts and demons forced me to learn about myself in ways that I never thought I would. I’ve also had to learn how to manage my own time, because you can easily just do nothing. But I try my best to always be doing something to better myself.
11. What’s the last song you listened to?
I was just listening to “Your Man” by Joji. He’s so good it’s annoying!
12. If you could see any artist in concert, dead or alive, who would it be?
That’s easy, Madonna for sure. I’ve haven’t seen her in concert but I’m dying to. I’ve watched all of her live performances online, because that’s as close as I can get for now.
13. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in the crowd of one of your sets?
I went on an LGBTQ festival run and in one of the cities a girl in the crowd flashed me. I had to try so hard not to let it throw me off.
14. What’s your karaoke go-to?
“Toxic” by Britney Spears. Everybody knows it, and it’s such a fun song to belt with your friends.
15. What movie, or song, always makes you cry?
“Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day. When I was younger and feeling upset I would listen to it on my iPod. And now when I listen to it, it reminds me of my dad. It makes me feel sad and happy at the same time.
16. What TV series have you watched all the way through multiple times?
Friends. To be honest, I used to just turn it on and play it in the background when I was doing something. I didn’t understand why everyone was so obsessed with it. But a couple years ago I started actually watching one episode every night and once I got into it I completely understood why everyone loves it. Now I could literally put it on any time, any day and I’ll still be obsessed with it. It’s a show I will never get sick of.
17. What’s one thing that even your most devoted fans don’t know about you?
I don’t know if people know this or not, but English wasn’t my first language — even though I was born in the U.S. My first language was Farsi and I started learning English in 2nd grade.
18. What’s a charitable cause that’s important to you right now?
The Black Lives Matter movement is super important to me. Lately, it feels like everything’s been crazy and there’s so many different causes that need attention. But if I had to pick one to highlight right now it would be BLM because I’m passionate about equality, and it makes me so angry to think that we have to still be fighting over racial injustice in 2020.
19. If you were not a musician, what would you be?
If I hadn’t pursued music I would probably have become either a dentist — because my mom always talked about me being a doctor — or something tech-related, because I’m actually weirdly skilled with technology.
20. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
My younger self would be amazed by how comfortable I am in my own skin now. I would tell her to stop judging herself so harshly and stop worrying about what other people think so much.