gilli moon chats about her life as a music artist and her new album Temperamental Angel.
"My last album wasn’t able to be released and I walked away from that without anything." - gilli moon
by Peter Gleeson
Late in 1995 I encountered a performer whose overpowering stage presence made her an artist to watch! But not long after meeting her, she disappeared to Sun soaked California USA: destination of many a seeker of something better; and Los Angeles, international make-or-break capital. This young artist, arriving there with $300 in her pocket and just one friend, is already beyond the point that many millions have only dreamed of in those Hollywood Sevens.
gilli moon has not been idle over those four years, nor has she developed one of those annoying Ausmerican accents! An actor; creator of both fine and entertainment art; business person; source of advice on matters music, health, and business; and now the proud owner of a brand new record label from whence her love-child Temperamental Angel has sprung, the culmination of a long struggle to find her footing in one of the most cut-throat cities and industries.
“On my website www.gillimoon.com I’ve written a diary about my last four years in LA. It talks about the highs and lows of being an entertainment artist. If you put something out that’s not right, people remember and you don’t really get a second chance. But at the same time it’s not so bad – in Sydney I find it’s even worse. People are quick to criticise – it’s always difficult to get something done because everyone is quick to pull you down. Usually they don’t even let you get big. The Sydney and Melbourne music business is a little bit like the Inner Circle. There’s like ten people – old time rock ‘n’ roll dudes – that basically run it, and it’s really tough for new artists.”
So if Australia’s major markets were so tough to crack, why on earth would an artist travel half-way around the world, with so little in the way of finance or connection, to a much bigger, much tougher market? “For me, the only way I could really express myself and have a possibility of doing well and being taken for who I am is to go to LA. At least I was playing with the professional big players to start with. If I was going to fall and hurt my knee I knew I was among the right people. They tend to be very encouraging because everyone’s creative; everyone’s doing it; everyone’s a script-writer or a film-producer and so that energy helps you create. The only hard part is, when you’re going to put it out, you really have to do it well.”
That’s how Songsalive! could be seen to be the basis of her travels. Ron Ragel, Lorry Borg and gilli started the Music Writers Forum with fantastic results in the early 1990s but when it folded in 1996 Sydney’s songwriters still needed an outlet. “One of the reasons I started Songsalive! In 97 was at least to have a supportive network of some kind. I ended up starting Songsalive! in LA about two years ago. I’ve been doing workshops and showcases and opening up the community but it’s not just the American writers; it’s also the Australian writers who end up collaborating and writing songs and it’s really good. We have done four Showcase CDs. We basically take them to all the music conventions and it’s really a lot a fun. Songwriters put their song on the sampler and people who are interested, like publishers and record companies, can contact the artist direct.”
And Temperamental Angel is the best advertisement for Songsalive! As one reviewer wrote recently, ‘Many people can be thankful to gilli moon’s input to song and music writers in Sydney and LA, and all the accolades in her direction prior to this release confirm just what she has been saying all these years.’ gilli agrees. “I love what I do with Songsalive! The writers there deserve all the attention they want. Not everyone has the capacity to get up there and do it. Some people wait for others to tell them how it’s done. Songsalive! is not about giving out all the answers. I’ve spent the last eight years toughing it and learning it myself, so Songsalive! is all about teaching you how to find the ropes.”
One would then think that, with the recording concerns and all else that she’s doing in life, she would have more than enough to keep her busy. But that’s where gilli continues to give her energy back to the community. “I’m writing this book about becoming a professional artist. It’s all about how to be autonomous, how to be self-determined, self-propelled, self-managed, a business-head, doing your own thing, so that you can go out there and do what you want to do in life as an artist and not wait for someone else to give it to you. In the end you have to make the call and you have to be responsible at the end of the day and ultimately not give the power away.”
gilli has plenty of experience to write about, too. Toughing it out in Australia was just the start of what she was to face in the States. “In my last four years in LA there was a time when I gave the power away – I thought they knew better and I actually got really burnt and I had to walk away. My last album wasn’t able to be released and I walked away from that without anything.”
There seemed to be a lot of pain in this new record. One would probably listen to it and then seek her out so they could give her a big hug. “All these songs are about weakness but about strength; it’s about being hurt but it’s about being really happy, it’s about being a warrior. I just hope that those people who go and get out there have that strength; first of all be innate and do your own thing but secondly be really wary because there’s sharks out there.”
Temperamental Angel is not her first solo album, it is still considered a debut album of sorts. It is well removed stylistically from girl in the moon, which was never as freely available as this one will be. “I’m about to release Temperamental Angel on my own in the States. It’s on the Internet now through Amazon and Barnes & Noble; you can get it everywhere. But I started up my own label Warrior Girl Music (www.warriorgirlmusic.com) at the beginning of the year, and it’s also my publishing company. I thought I’d just do the CD, just being very humble about it and not making a big to-do, it’s just me with a couple of people who work with me and it’s like this is what I’m doing on my own.”
If gilli could emulate what her role model Ani Difranco did with Righteous Babe Records, she’ll have to grow a few more arms, as well as an army of staff! “Now the label has signed a distribution deal for right across the States I am not just the artist any more. I’m not waiting for the big major record company to come along – I’m being the label, and hopefully I’ll be able to release more product under my label and more artists.”
But keeping everything in perspective is going to be very important as well. “The key to what’s happening right now is that for the first time in my career I am completely responsible and in control of what I’m doing. I’m not at the mercy of any label, I’m self-managed, everything is at my fingertips. I’ve learned enough to kind of know how to go about it - although no one can say if it’s going to work or not: there’s no true formula, you can follow some certain guide lines. What’s important is the music.”
Temperamental Angel hits the stores across the United States on April 10 but right now is available at www.gillimoon.com, as well as www.amazon.com, among other internet retailers.
INTERVIEWS WITH GILLI