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27.10.2023, Words by Billy Ward

girl_irl unpacks their latest break-up anthem 'contort'

"Diving headfirst into the insanity of it all..."

Formally a touring DJ and now one of the most exciting industrial-pop producers and artists about, girl_irl is one of many aliases of Em Perlman. Garnering comparisons to artists such as SOPHIE, COBRAH and Shygirl thanks to the bass-booming, glitchy production in the outer layer of their discography, the up-and-comer is gearing up to release a conceptual full length project next year. 

As an immediate follow up to their most recent feature on 'Just A Touch' released with London-based artist Manni Dee, girl_irl has dropped a new high-fueled banger titled “contort” across all streaming services. To mark the release of the new track, out today, we sat down with girl_irl to get the inside scoop on how it came to fruition. 

Can you describe what ‘contort’ is about?

"'contort' is about the toxic headspace of a push and pull dynamic and the breakup stages that follow - being aware of manipulative behaviour and regaining the upper hand. Whether it's out of spite, selfishness, or taking bad advice on how to heal from a relationship it's diving headfirst into the insanity of it all."

Who did you work with on the new single?

"I worked with Gaszia of X&G and Louie Diller of Holy Child. Both have really great music under their own names too."

Could you tell us a bit about the creative process that went into the track?

"Gaszia and I have been internet mutuals for a while, definitely started somewhere around peak pandemic. We officially met face to face in October 2022 at a festival we both played in Atlanta (DEF: Offline Project). Around late November I was messing around with new sounds and trying to create something a little more upbeat. 

"Ended up tweeting out something along the lines wanting to collaborate with more producers and we reconnected. A few days later I was sent over the first draft of a track called 'contort' and everything fell into place from there. In early 2023 I had a session with Louie Diller in LA, we fleshed out final details and laid down vocals, it all felt very organic."

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Can you tell us something nobody knows about the new track?

"It uses the same looney-tunes type sample that was used in the intro of 'sting'."

You’ve mentioned before that the girl_irl project revolves around ‘cathartic make believe’, can you explain what you mean by this?

"The term 'cathartic make believe' is the idea of imagining alternate versions of yourself if certain things from your past turned out differently. There's definitely parts of me that resonate within this project but it's also taken on a bit of a life of its own. I was always told growing up that I was more of a shy and reserved kid, probably up until my late teens. 

"Even now I still get told that I don't come across very 'girl_irl'. It took me until early this year to fully resonate with the feeling of anger, in its entirety, and heal other aspects of my life to fully acknowledge that I've been subconsciously throwing all of it into this project. I think humans naturally find outlets to express emotion and process - I have this."

What are the musical inspirations for girl_irl?

"Not sure if I can pinpoint specific inspirations, I listen to a lot of different artists just depending on my mood. But while wrapping up contort I had a lot of The Offspring, Say Anything, Marwan Moussa, POLIÇA, Dinamarca and Tkay Maidza on rotation."

Can you tell us anything about the full-length project dropping next year?

"Can't say too much but it's going to be a conceptual project, a lot of music that's really personal to me that I've been sitting on for a while. Also working on a lot more sounds that are different than what is out now but still fit under the girl_irl umbrella."

What else have you got planned for the rest of 2023 going into 2024?

"Have one more release coming out this year with a friend and frequent collaborator and early next year I have a few projects in the works with some brands that I'm really excited to start sharing! This year has honestly been a whirlwind just glad to be a part of it all."

Stream 'contort' below or listen with your preferred player here

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