After releasing “Cruel Intentions,” a song about the “crazy explosion” of her last breakup, Gia Woods just wanted to “party the pain away.” To celebrate Valentine’s Day, the Persian pop star returned on Tuesday to take fans through the aftermath of a relationship’s end with a Tidal Sessions performance of her album Heartbreak County, Pt. 2.
“I wanted the visuals to be straightforward, raw, and show exactly what each song makes me feel,” says Woods when describing the video, which premieres with Rolling Stone. “Heartbreak County Vol. 2 is a special piece of work for me, written after a tough, and confusing breakup. So having the creative freedom to play around with out-of-the-box concepts for Sessions is an experience I’ll remember forever… I want people who listen to my music to feel like they can truly embrace themselves.”
The 11-minute performance opens with Woods undressing and dancing on a poker table at a casino as she sings the lyrics to her enticing pop banger “Spend It,” before she ends the track by playing the electric guitar next to glowing slot machines. (“I thought it would be really hot,” she says.)
Woods then goes into a strip club where she dances in front of pole dancers for her sex-empowering song “Lesbionic.” The scene was inspired by her frequent visits to L.A.’s Jumbo Clown Room. “It’s about lesbians,” she says with a laugh. “And we love strip clubs.”
The singer contrasts the lyrics of standout single “Pretty Cold Heart” by dancing inside a ring of fire as she sings about how a distant lover has “everything that I want.” “I felt like the fire was a very simple but beautiful way to describe that feeling,” she told Rolling Stone.
The song transitions into Woods’ ballad “Cruel Intentions” while she sings in the pouring rain: “I wanted to then end it with rain because how much rawer can you be than rain falling all over your body?”
Woods originally released Heartbreak County, Vol. 2 at the end of 2022, and says writing the record was a form of “escapism” for her after the end of a relationship that “just literally killed me.”
“It was like being stabbed by a double sword because it was two ex-lovers coming together and dating,” she says of her breakup. “It was just crazy. Two exes of yours dating is unimaginable, and I don’t think most people go through that. I lost my shit. I really did. And it was really hard to go through.”
She used that heartbreak as inspiration to create Heartbreak County — her nickname for Los Angeles, where she says dreams and love go to die — and created a project that encompasses her dance pop sounds with a hint of 2010 nostalgia.
“[This album] was me finding myself and figuring out how to find my confidence again and feeling hot and just partying the pain away. But then at the end of it, just finding that the reality of it is: I am sad,” she says. “I feel like a lot of my music in this is definitely a mixture of escapism and rawness in a way that I haven’t really been the most vulnerable with.”
It’s been a long ascent for Woods, who launched into the music world in 2016 with the release of “Only a Girl,” a track that would help her come out to her family. For Woods, singing openly about her sexuality is crucial to her messaging.
“I think sometimes artists are scared to do that because they’re scared for people to pigeonhole them or make it seem like their whole identity is their sexuality, when that’s not the case for me,” she says. “When you think about a straight person talking about someone, no one’s saying, ‘Oh, you’re being too straight.’ Do you know what I’m saying?”
“That annoys me. I’m being authentic, and this is what I’m singing about,” she adds. “That’s why I’m super blunt when I include it in my music.”
“I feel like I actually understand what my purpose is, what my sound is, what I love. I don’t think I have one sound that defines me,” she says. “I want to really lean into my Persian culture. It’s crazy that I haven’t yet! It would be really cool to incorporate Persian percussions into the dance world that I’m doing.”
“Even now that I know I just put out this project, I’m like, ‘I already know what I want to do next.’ It’s weird,” she adds. “It never ends for me.”