IN CONVERSATION WITH GIOLÌ & ASSIA
Interview by Dean Sanders
Giolì & Assia have taken the electronic music scene by storm with their refreshing and unique style. This young female Italian duo has made a name for themselves as producers, multi-instrumentalists, songwriters, record label owners, and DJs. With a blend of pop, house, indie, and dance, Giolì & Assia have created a sound that is entirely their own. But what really sets them apart is their breathtaking #DiesisLive sessions, shot in some of the most beautiful locations in the world. And with their viral performance on top of an active volcano in Sicily, Italy, this duo has become a force to be reckoned with in the world of electronic music.
The two of you met in 2014, how did this happen?
(Giolì) I was very young. I was 18. When I finished high school, I chose that I wanted to do music. So my father said ‘’ If you want to do music, you have to go to a University’’ I had to study something. So, I choose the UK, we found a nice University in Cambridge. I moved to Cambridge. While I was in studying English, I was doing some videos of me playing the drums on top of some songs. I had only 2000 followers, which is not that much. And Assia was one of those 2000 followers.
(Assia) She was playing a song on electronic percussion. And I was thinking “wow, I like this girl, what cool music she’s playing.’’ It was amazing. I first gave her a like on the video. Then I saw another video and I put a comment on it. And then I said ‘’I want this song in my playlist.’’ And from that comment, she said ‘’give me your number.’’
(Goilì) I was still in the closet but she kind of understood that. From the first moment, I liked her. I knew I was gay since I was 13. But it takes a little bit of time to understand your stuff and to go to your parents etc, etc. When I went to Cambridge, it was the first time I was completely myself. The moment she wrote me, I knew this was going to be for the long run. So, I told her, ‘’while I’m in Cambridge, I want to have fun. But when we come back, I want to get to know you better.’’
(Assia) We started talking 24 hours a day, after that day, we had so many things in common.
How was it growing up in Italy?
(Giolì) I come from a very small town with 100 habitats.
(Assia) Mine was a little bigger with 3000 people. But still, it’s very small. I felt alone there. I think it’s a little bit easier for the new generation with TikTok. But when I was trying to understand my sexuality, the only thing I could do is go on a streaming platform and try to find people like me.
The two of you are now living in Sicily, why did you choose to live and make music there?
When we come home, we need to slow down, and Sicily is the perfect spot for that. We live next to the sea and It’s always quiet. We even have a wild fox that comes to visit us. We called her Matilda. It’s just amazing to be that close to nature.
We used to live in Palermo. It’s a very big, crowded city. For us to produce music there was harder because we need to get inside our thoughts. We can do that now and play music as loud as we want until early in the morning.
Is this also where you get your inspiration from?
The biggest inspiration we get from touring. When we finished our biggest tour in the US we came back home, and we spent one month producing an album. We have so much freedom in Sicily, and we didn’t have this freedom before, so this home allowed us to be ourselves and create. Whenever we want to get inspiration, we just go hiking in the mountains or discover spots and see beautiful views. We can understand both sides of life and take inspiration from both.
Did you always want to make music?
(Giolì) In the beginning, my goal was to do soundtracks for movies, and her goal was to become a fashion photographer. We both ended up doing something completely different. But we never had a clear idea of what we were going to do. We just knew we wanted to do something together.
How did you start working together? I can imagine you both have different qualities.
(Assia) It is all very spontaneous, it felt natural to combine our qualities.
(Giolì) We are very similar in a lot of things, and we want the same things in life, but our characters are different. Sometimes I expect stuff to happen. But when Assia wants something, she will just do it. That’s also why she was my manager in the beginning. Assia doesn’t see any limit and learned everything by herself.
(Assia) Most of the things we are doing now are learned by doing. And maybe this slowed us down a little but it’s also our strength. We see everything as a possibility to grow.
(Giolì) On my first tour, I had to learn how to DJ in three weeks. Back then I was a drummer but not a DJ. But the promoter wanted me to do drums and DJ. So, I had to learn it in three weeks, this was very stressful. If you wait to be perfect, you will never be perfect. You need a curve line to grow. But if you don’t do something, you will not learn. Our fans also see that they like to see the show grow.
How is your relationship with fans, how do you make sure you stay connected?
2019 It was our hype year, that year our videos became viral on YouTube. And 2020 should have been our busiest year for touring. During this time, we tried to bond with our fans in different ways through digital platforms. We did these live streams while there was covid. People still tell us three years later that this helped them through the lockdown period. Every Sunday we would do this live stream. People were waiting for it every week. We asked every week what we should do next, and what songs we should mix.
We were mixing songs from other artists like Rosalia or Billie Eilish, this was also very interesting for us. Our fan base is various, so we got a lot of different input. We love to do live shows now because we see a variety of people. There are families with kids or older couples. It’s not one group of people. You don’t see that often. Because a club is usually for young people who want to have fun.
You two have grown so much over the last few years, is there something you are still dreaming of?
I think building our arena tour, locations with 10.000 people. It’s a big dream but why not? Music comes to life in an arena. We went to a “Coldplay” concert in 2017 together in Milan. It was the best concert we ever saw. It would be a dream to work together with them. They are also the reason Gioli started playing drums. To see them play in a big stadium with the drum as a big component of the show was very inspiring.
Are there any other artists that inspire you
We are both big “Stromae” fans, he is one of the first musicians that combined electronic EDM music with pop. That was mind-blowing at the time. He can write fluently with a beautiful meanings. A collaboration with Rosalia would also be amazing. After she released “MALAMENTE” she only went up.
Would you also like to explore those languages, like Spanish and French?
(Assia) I speak a lot of languages. French, English, Spanish, Italian, and a little bit of Russian and Portuguese. And I want to learn all the languages. When I don’t understand someone speaking it makes me angry.
(Giolì) We did a song called Habibi. There are some French, Spanish, and English words in the song. Our fans loved it. I think it’s one of their favorite songs. Whenever we play a show, they always ask us to play Habibi. We feel like we are all the same although we speak a different languages.
What is so special about your album “fire hell and hole water’’?
I think it’s the longest body of work we have made so far. But also, the most personal body of work. Three songs were already done, but most of the songs were made in a very hard period. It was December after our US tour, and we stayed home until January. There happened something bad in our family and we questioned ourselves “what is the meaning of life”. We didn’t know where we came from or where we were going. There was no purpose. Musically the sound of the first song is quite uncommon it starts quiet and introverted, then the drop comes, and it shakes you to “live”.
the best part of this album is that we thought about this album before we started. We were already thinking this intro must shake the mind of people sitting in the audience. They must feel “what the fuck is happening”. The first song is important because it gives the mood for the whole album. But the other songs are also very personal.