(by Marlyn Potter.) She may live in L.A., but gilli moon is an outback girl. Raised in rural Australia, she’s got an ethos of self-reliance that was forged in her parents’ solar-powered house at the edge of the bush, and that pioneering spirit has served her just as well in the wilds of Hollywood. Since settling in America in 1997, this Renaissance woman has launched a spirited assault on the corporate entertainment industry and carved a multi-faceted niche for herself that defies categorization. “I’m the leader of my vision,” she declares—and she’s got a record label, a successful recording and performing career, a how-to book for independent artists, and a growing contingent of fans to prove it.
She may live in L.A., but gilli moon is an outback girl. Raised in rural Australia, she’s got an ethos of self-reliance that was forged in her parents’ solar-powered house at the edge of the bush, and that pioneering spirit has served her just as well in the wilds of Hollywood. Since settling in America in 1997, this Renaissance woman has launched a spirited assault on the corporate entertainment industry and carved a multi-faceted niche for herself that defies categorization. “I’m the leader of my vision,” she declares—and she’s got a record label, a successful recording and performing career, a how-to book for independent artists, and a growing contingent of fans to prove it.
moon’s fourth album, “extraOrdinary life”, recently released on her own Warrior Girl Music label, continues to showcase her ability as a singer-songwriter and pianist, backed by a six-piece band. She picks up a producing credit as well. “This is the first time I’ve completely produced my album solo,” she says. Even in an age of mp3s downloaded as single-serving musical snacks, moon still believes in the three-course meal—the concept album. “There should be albums like The Wall,” she says. “It starts in a place and takes you on a ride through highs and lows and brings you out at the end. I can’t just go into the studio and record a couple of songs.”
If all of moon’s albums (including her 1998 debut, “Girl in the Moon,” 2001’s “temperamental angel,” and 2002’s “Woman”) are unified by central concepts, “extraOrdinary life” is about a global harmony that starts with the tiniest one-on-one interactions. “If we are able to have a harmonious relationship with another person then we’re able to understand that dynamic on a global scale,” she says. As metaphors for larger issues, moon believes her autobiographical lyrics about personal relationships are catalysts for change. When she performs, she says, “Invariably both men and women come up to me and say ‘You’ve touched me, I’ve made some sense out of what is going on in my life.’ They’re going to go on and carry positive messages with other people. That’s my way of saving rainforests.”
“extraOrdinary life” represents the latest step in a musical journey that began when moon was just four, studying classical piano, and led to involvement in musical theatre as a singer, dancer, and songwriter. “I guess I’ve always entertained, even as a kid—playing piano, always singing, dancing, always putting a show together,” she remembers, adding that her rural home life forced her to entertain herself. “I had to use my imagination a lot. I think I’ve got this go-get-‘em mentality—my parents taught me you could sort of do anything if you tried hard and worked hard enough.” After spending time in Europe and New York, then briefly returning to Australia where she played in various bands and began recording her songs, moon made the leap to L.A. to devote herself to her musical career.
That career has followed the do-it-yourself model pioneered in the 90s by independent artists like Ani DiFranco (another influence moon often cites), and proves that it never hurts to have multiple talents. moon is not only a trained businesswoman, she’s a writer who supplies her fans with a steady stream of communication in blog and email form. Within a year of her arrival in Hollywood, moon landed on Music Connection Magazine’s list of the “Top 100 Unsigned Artists of Southern California,” then made “Woman of the Week” on MP3.com after “Girl in the Moon” appeared in 1998. By 2000, after a touring stint with the band Jessica Christ, she was ready to establish Warrior Girl Music as her musical home base. Being independent, she says, was the only way to go.
“First it was because I had no choice. I wasn’t going to wait around for someone else to make it happen for me,” she says, adding that as the owner of Warrior Girl, “I can provide that opportunity and service for other artists.” (The label has released ten albums by artists such as Nashville’s Deborah Bishop and Finland’s Ari Inkilainen, and garnered the Indie Label of the Year Award in 2003 at Philadelphia’s Independent Music Awards.) Creatively, too, moon craves the freedom of being her own boss. “I’m an Aries so I’m very much like, ‘I want to do this my way.” she says. “I’ve had a vision of how I want to see my music, how I want to perform live. Ultimately it’s been performing in a way that’s completely natural.”
“Natural,” for moon, means embracing all of her artistic interests on stage, rather than drawing boundaries between diverse art forms. Her performances include elements of theatre, spoken word, and even painting onstage, in a hybrid mode she’s dubbed “SensuArt.” “I want to bring all the senses onstage,” she says. “I see the boundaries blending together.” Audiences at SensuArt performances witness moon dancing and painting in acrylics on a large glass canvas while her band riffs underneath. The paintings are events, not objects. “It’s like a happening—spontaneous performance art that I do in the moment on stage and then it’s gone. Most of the time I wash the glass off,” she says.
Between U.S. and overseas tours, moon spreads the do-it-yourself gospel to other musicians through seminars and workshops. “As an artist I’m no longer fascinated by the glamour of the music business,” she says. What’s important, she says, is “creating the music no matter what happens—not to try and put on any pretenses or glamour or anything like that.”
With a promising and multi-dimensional career shaping up, look for moon to continue forging new avenues for delivering her messages, whether they touch on global harmony or the nuts and bolts of running a record label. As far as she’s concerned, there’s no such thing as too many outlets. “I’m an expressionist,” she says simply. “I have a lot to say.”
INTERVIEWS WITH GILLI