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Monday, November 13, 2006

gilli @ TAXI Road Rally

Last weekend i spoke about the following to about 150 people in a standing room only hall at the Taxi Road Rally's Renaissance Hotel. I spent the proceeding hour afterwards signing books and Cds. The Taxi Road Rally is probably the largest attended music conference, specifically about songwriting and attended by songwriters. I've never seen so much traffic in one place.

. Indie Artist Marketing, Touring and Promotion with Gilli Moon - In the Hancock Park Room. Define success on your own terms... professional artist development, staying motivated, how to develop the right relationships, marketing and promotional tools, and overcoming obstacles. Gilli Moon will motivate you beyond creativity, into the business world of the Professional Artist - providing tools, tips and solutions on indie promotion, marketing and touring.

Last year I was on the official Opening Panel of the conference called "DIY" amongst 5 panelists including Derek Sivers from Cd Baby. This year, everyone came up to me remembering me on the panel. Michael Laskow, the owner of Taxi, recently said to me that I'm the "hardest working indie artist" he's met. That's a nice comment from him. He has one of my quotes on his website too, on the home page of the Rally website:

Our Songsalive! booth was FULL ON all weekend in the book room, with people constantly coming up to us. It was an amazing weekend.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Inner Entrepreneurship

gilli moon's blog "Inner Entrepreneurship"

Last month I spoke for my second time, at Berklee School of Music in Boston. It's such an honor to be able to do this and I thank the insightful and prolific Berklee author Peter Spellman for the opportunity, as Berklee is one of the most prestigious music schools in the world. It was very timely to speak to students there, not for the sakes of the writing progress of my new book which I always feel inspired to write a chapter or two after a public outing, but also because the was so fitting with everything that i have been focused on lately. I don't know who learned more, the musician filled audience, or me. What I do know is that through my speaking engagements, i'm getting more and more in touch with my higher mission as an artist and a human being, and much of it has to do with the art of leaping forward by "going within."

I was asked to give my thoughts on the topic of "the inner game of music entrepreneurship." This statement conjured up some fascinating thought and ensuing dialogue. The most obvious cool topic is 'entrepreneurship'. To be considered an entrepreneur in this business of music by Berklee is indeed flattering, let alone the opportunity to speak about it. With everything I do as an artist, musician, author, speaker, label owner, artist community builder, I guess I am indeed entrepreneurial. What is more important here though is that I feel everyone needs to be entrepreneurial, in order to be truly powerful as an artist in this new music/arts business. It's automatic. If we want to lead our lives, or art, our business, we need to be self-driven, business minded, and a visionary. But this cannot be just shown externally. We need to feel it and be it internally too.

The next part about this topic that i was excited about was the idea of talking about the word "game". Dabbling in the music business can indeed be like a game, and it conjured up really cool concepts for me to speak about the game of music, the game of business and finally... the psychological game. This final part was the clincher in totally jumping to the cause to discuss this topic: The "inner" game is what is so cool. Everything,... everything that we do, that we want, who we are,... is based all around our inner work on ourselves, and less on the external. I have written much about this already. Thought is very powerful and a mere idea will turn into reality. Thought breeds action. How we perceive ourselves, what we ask for, how we operate our belief systems, everything about our inner dialogue, emotions, desires,... everything internal,... creates the external. So by combining this whole statement together, "the inner game of music entrepreneurship" just made me bursting with excitement to philosophize over and share. Here are some of my contributions to the subject:

I ask you, "Who are you?"

That's right... how would you describe who you are and what you do to someone in the street, at a party, at a meeting or if I asked you at one of my workshops? The WORDS you use are very important. Here are some examples of what I usually get from artists on first meeting:-

"Hi, I'm Bill. I'm trying to be a better songwriter and working hard at practising my music. One day I'd like to be a professional musician with my own band, but already I feel I'm too old and I just don't know if i'll get there what with all the learning I have to do."

"Hi, I'm Elaine. I want to be a professional songwriter one day and tour if I can. I just don't know how to get there yet. I just need to find the right people, maybe a manager or an agent. I don't know."

"Hi, my name is Tom and I am a guitarist, songwriter and producer. I run my own production house and am creating new projects on a weekly basis, building my credits and writing songs with a strong global mission of unity and human consciousness. I'm very excited by my journey and am discovering new opportunities on a daily basis."

What is different about the first two introductions compared to the third?

How we perceive ourselves, including self-worth and self-discovery, and how we express it to others, indicates why we create success in our lives or not. Clearly Bill and Elaine are not quite in touch with the law of attraction yet, compared to Tom. Bill is "trying" to be a songwriting and looks into the future as to when he will truly come into his own. He also has issues about his age and feels he doesn't know enough to consciously acknowledge his talent nor his status as an artist. Same for Elaine... desiring to be professional, but feels she doesn't know the way to get there, and feels she needs other people to make it happen for her.

These are introductions from artists I get ALL THE TIME. Ninety percent of the artists I come across introduce themselves with language like this, not realizing that it sabotages their goals and dreams in coming true. Here's the crux of it: if you put it out there, even just visualizing it, you will get it. If you are not clear with what you want, then what you want may take a long time. So let's take a look at some of these self-thoughts, and how to overcome some negative patterns, in order to create positive results:

Age doesn't matter.

Let me reiterate something I've expressed before. It doesn't matter how old you are in the world of artistry. Ignore what you hear from hearsay: you can be any age you want to be as an artist in the arts business. It all depends on the market you are targeting. If you want to go for the Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson market, then, sure, being nineteen surely means something, and the major record companies spend most of their budget on the 8-14 year olds. If you want to compete with that, give it a shot, but know what you're up against. The whole pop radio, video and retail machine is geared towards that age bracket. But you have the opportunity to find so many other markets, age brackets and genres for your music. You can be 65 years old and find your audience. Remember, artistry is for life. This is a life long journey. So take the time you need to learn, be and share.

"I am" versus "I want".

My first book was called "I AM A Professional Artist" and I titled it for a reason: to empower artists to make a positive, current affirmation about who they are, based on who they want to be. If you only proclaim that you "want" something, then all you will ever get is "wanting" without any actualization. I'm not the first to say this. It's written in many motivational self-help books. Use your words carefully. Introduce yourself to the world as someone who already is. That way you are empowering yourself to be the person you've always dreamed of being. When Tom introduced himself (above) he clearly said he was a "guitarist, songwriter and producer". There's nothing mentioned about desiring something in the future as if it's a far off dream. Talk about your future as if it's your present, and be convinced as to who you are. Then we will be convinced of you.

Learn but also be all knowing.

Be the student of life, but know you have what you need to be who you want to be. I have also always said that we are students of life. Our learning is life long and beyond college we will always be learning something, on a daily basis. Everything we do will provide us insight into ourselves and we will always be "in development". But I believe that we all have the assets and the know-how to achieve whatever we want to achieve and be whoever we want to be now. I use the term "commence-aphobia" with artists at times, when they procastinate and wait a long time to do something, like perform or record an album. It's like they are waiting for a sign, or someone to say "ok, you are ready now." But what if we are always ready? What if all we needed to do is to take one step. I see that by taking that first step, the other foot will follow, and the seemingly foggy path will clear up and illuminate the way. We don't necessarily need to wait for someone to tell us how to do it, or have our art approved before we put it out there. We don't need to read every single book on the business or go to every class in order to start a project. What we need is confidence and a desire to do the art, for the sake of doing. If we just initiate the step to start, it's amazing how much information, resources, advisors, support and opportunity comes our way, because we have internally opened up to the art of doing.

Seek no one else's approval but your own.

It's a hard statement to digest at first, but when you really consider it for some time, it makes total sense. I'm not suggesting that we don't seek advice, or that we have to do things alone. Definitely have a core few around you, which you trust, to gain feedback about your work. But at the end of the day when all is said and done, you alone are the one to decide if it's right for you or not, if you are on the right path or not. This ties greatly into the whole concept about enacting on who you want to be as an artist and the things you'd like to do. We can wait for ages to have some high and mighty record executive, or media critique, to approve of our process, but really, we don't need anyone to tell us we are doing the right thing for us. Once you agree with yourself that you have everything you need to be who you are and who you want to be, then you can enact without waiting for someone else to tell you it's okay. Every one is unique, and so what you bring to the world cannot really be judged by anyone.

The journey of art is a personal journey, no matter what competitive, commercial or public purpose you may choose to endeavour in.

Enjoy it. It is a game.

How can one possibly proceed into the world of the arts without seeing it as a bit of fun? My gosh, we are so lucky as artists to pursue a life with paint brushes, musical instruments and anything creative. Just think that about ten percent of the world's population has the audacity to make their world revolve around creativity and imagination whereas every child on this planet lived and breathed it before they were 7. What happened to most of us as we grew into adults? The world has gotten so serious! Always business, business, business... mortgages, living on credit, an ever present need for financial security and keeping up with the Jones's. I must admit though, being in the music business, I have had to be more business minded than I ever would have thought. I have had to wear two hats, and artists need to be aware that being in the arts business is about business, not so much about art. But let's use our artistic insights to survive the biz in a cool, creative way. Think of it like a 'game' and know that this game is made up of people playing the game. As my guitarist friend James Hurley says, "it's a game because people are participating in it". This business is all about relationships, strategies and dreams. Play it like monopoly or a long thought out chess game, with patience and a sense of humor. Navigate with passion, and joy, and know that at any time you want out, you can. You can always go back to a 'desk' job in the suburbs, right? You have a choice, to play the game or not. Besides, the music business in particular is all an illusion. Everything you read about fame and fortune, the celebrity lives versus ordinary happiness, ... is all wrapped up in an illusion dished out in glossy magazines. The real business is business, and hard work. The 'game' of the music business can be played with tenacity, joy and passion, if you put your mind to it.

Everyone is unique. Know your uniqueness.

We can find it all quite daunting when you consider all t he things we have to do to be creative, promote our creativity and survive it all. There's a lot of competition too. Many artists all wanting those top 10 slots on the Billboard charts right? Wrong. There is room for everyone at the 'top'. It all depends on what you want, and what you bring to the table. You may not be Britney Spears or Eminem, but you probably have something very unique about you that can tap into a market all to itself. Consider that there are close to 300 million people in the U.S, heck nearly 5 billion on the planet. You can find your niche for your art, if you know what makes you unique. I've always called this, "finding your competitive advantage." Your talent + your uniqueness = your competitive advantage, or edge. It might be that you play bare feet, or you have an interesting hair-do. Maybe your name is different. Perhaps you cross styles with your music, or have a different stage presence or image/persona. Whatever it is, harness it, focus on it, and exploit it. This will certainly help you find your own audience. In this day and age, for the new artist entrepreneur, you don't have to conform to a structure as to what you should look like, sound like, be like or the way you share your music or promote. We are in a new era where not only are audiences in control (they search for their own music based on their own tastes online, etc), but they are busting to get something NEW. Be creative and use your imagination to find new ways to present your music and yourself. This is the time to be very imaginative and to think outside the box.

Discovering you are already the creative, magical, prolific, talented and successful artist that you are, opens up the largest of doors. This is very much an inward empowerment. "Know" it, "feel" it, "be" it, and it will be realized on your outside.

This is your time to be, do, create, think, visualize, and build your empire. Be the entrepreneur, and be yourself.

And so, I ask you,… "Who are you?"

Until next time,

gilli moon

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bermuda or Bust

I just returned from THE most beautiful place. Bermuda. If you haven't been there I highly recommend it. I was there teaching for the Bermuda Artist and Songwriting Retreat which is sponsored by Songsalive! It's a yearly event and this was the inaugural one.

Richard, our host, picked us up at the airport and we drove along a one lane road (the main road!) from one end of the island to the other. English cut hedges juxtaposed towild jungles and rainforests, and the ever present turquoise blue water guiding us on our path. Bermuda is still a British colony but has it's own government. They have made their Bermudian dollars of equal value to the U.S dollar, and in fact are completely identical save for the cool colors Bermudians have chosen for their cash.

I had no expectations of Bermuda except that I was going to be on a magical journey, and indeed it was. We arrived at 9 Beaches Resort, which is on the far tip of the long island (it's only 1.5 miles wide). The first thing I noticed were the array of huts (cabanas) all on stilts in the water. Was I in paradise? Apparently this Resort had once been an eco-living place. I couldn't believe the water, and the way this "village" was architecurally designed. Quite impressive. The cabana nestled perfectly on the side of the hill overlooking the water. I really felt like I was on a tropical island. Designed in white and blue cloth, with simple furniture, i ended up living in it for 6 days with peace, tranquility and joy. My view of the ocean gave me solice and inspiration.

For three days I taught and empowered artists at the Bermuda Artist and Songwriters Retreat which was held under a huge white tent on the grass near the water. It actually rained for the first 3 days, with the heavens opening up in terrential rain one moment, and then sun the next. Very fickle weather, but all the time it was magical. I felt like we were truly on an isolated piece of property which is so perfect for a retreat.

I can't remember when i felt so tranquil as this, yet so energized at the same time.


Monday, September 11, 2006


good morning everyone! gilli moon here with some motivational tips i like to send out from time to time.

i just got back from an empowering 2 weeks on the east coast where i swam with dolphins in virginia beach, felt the zing and elecricity of new york city and rallied with a community of artistic souls in philadelphia. nothing better than a does of invigoration to set sail throughout september.

here's a lovely little motivational message from the Daily Guru that talks about balance:

---- What's your best routine? "For all my good intentions, there are days when things go wrong or I fall into old habits. When things are not going well, when I'm grumpy or mad, I'll realize that I've not been paying attention to my soul and I've not been following my best routine." -- Robert Fulghum

How do you need to bring more balance to your life? Robert Fulghum has shared, "The older I get, the more I realize the importance of exercising the various dimensions of my body, soul, mind and heart. Taken together, these aspects give me a sense of wholeness. I want to be a whole human being rather than one who limps on one leg because I don't know how to use all of my parts. Intellectual, emotional, and physical activity are not separate entities. Rather, they are dimensions of the same human being."

"There is an Indian Belief that everyone is in a house of four rooms: A physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time, but unless we go into every room everyday, even if only to keep it aired, we are not complete." -- Rumer Godden -----

and now... a chapter exerpt from gilli moon's "I AM A Professional Artist" - available for purchase at with details at

Topic: Passion, balance and time -

The ultimate ingredient of an Artist, and a professional Artist.. is Passion. This is your fire and you should never deny it because your passion is the way to self realization. You also need to balance your personal life, your art, your day to day and your passion. Life is a balance and in order for all of your desires and needs to be fulfilled, balance is the key. This means that many aspects of you need to be focused on. There's no need to be a total work-aholic without also nurturing private, relaxation time. Your various creative urges should be balanced so that you don't put all your eggs in one basket. You can even juggle your day so that all your passions get taken care of. Balance tasks with others, balance business and pleasure, balance working and time-out. I have a friend who compartmentalizes his day based on which creative projects he wants and needs to work on. Morning is for writing, and some phone calls and email. Midday he's ready to paint. By mid-afternoon he's playing the piano and also taking care of some business. Night time he's often performing with a local jazz band.

Apart from balance, you need time. You need to give yourself time to develop your professional career. Don't expect it to come overnight. There is truth in the term "paying your dues" and also truth in a friend of mine's term "becoming an overnight sensation takes ten years." Some people are too impatient. They want it all at once and now. We think that all these superstars are overnight sensations and that if our career takes five years, no ten, then we are complete failures. How fickle we are! A great career in the Arts business takes time. Firstly, don't think you have to win over who's already out there "making it." It's not a contest. It's about you finding value in what you alone can determine. This might take a life time. In fact, as I will talk about later, being a professional Artist is a life long journey. If you were to "make it" right now, what would you do then? Give up. Die? Sit back and enjoy the ride because the process is the best part. Take the time to discover who you want to be. Heed the sign "when the time's right, it will come." Life is about timing and sometimes we want to try and push that with our will. Patience is a virtue, and time is of the essence. You've heard it all before, and its all true. Take your time, develop, study, expand your business, nurture your talent, focus on your choice, and allow the universe to deliver in good time.

We often mismanage our time. Ernie Zelinski writes in his book, "The Lazy Person's Guide To Success", that time devoted to just hard work (being busy, thinking we are accomplishing something but instead spinning our wheels), is generally a poor use of time. Whereas, if we spend time on creativity and imagination (plus thought, which I will go into detail later), then this is more effective. "The wise use of the assets you have - time, energy, creativity, motivation, money, patience, and courage - is what will bring you success and happiness over the long term." Spend your time doing what you LOVE. Minimize the time you spend on things that you don't like and that are not important. There is no shortage of time. It's how we use it that's important. You CAN find the balance between work, and free time too... ultimately if you can combine creativity in all of it, you have found the key. Also, spend time with positive, organized people and it will rub off. When I was eighteen and busting to be an actor, my father gave me this one little piece of advice: "Don't hang around down and out, unemployed actors." While the statement is a little stereotypical I think you'll get the gist of it. Being around negative thinking people only drags you down. You start thinking like them, especially when most Artists are rather sensitive. Surround yourself with negativity and Opportunity goes right out the window. I find that if I choose my friends carefully, keep a strict, disciplined day of work, pleasure, creativity, mediation and exercise, coupled with an understanding that this is a life-long journey with plenty of time to achieve what i want - then I am balanced, achieving highly, creating great art, financially stable and loved by those around me. It's a long way... to the top... if you wanna rock-n roll!

by gilli moon (from her book "I AM A Professional Artist"

"It is not enough to be busy.... The question is: what are we busy about?" - Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

when the going gets tough, there is always enough

when the going gets tough, there is always enough

 * * *  

Recently, I felt unmotivated. I know,... it's hard to imagine that isn't it? Most people see me as such a motivated whirlwind, but it's true. I've had a long period of this recently. I won't go into how long my moment lasted, but I can at least say that I experienced many feelings during this moment of non-motivation. This included a physical feeling of being tired, to the point that I got so run-down mentally I had two colds in two months plus other physical ailments. On a mental plane, I had no desire to complete any of my projects, or start new ones. I didn't want to sit at my desk and look at my computer, nor even my piano. I "maintained" my days with checking emails, replying quickly, and then not really getting my teeth into anything creative or productive. I had no incentive. What was wrong with me?

My direction as an artist, in this big world called the music business, lost its meaning and joy... momentarily. All I could think about was all the negative stuff: how corrupt the music business is, how venues are so tough and disrespectful of artists (not paying, or pay-to-play), how little opportunity there is to truly create a living, etc. I had doubts. Nothing went easily and money became a focal point of my day; how to make more, where to invest it, doing my taxes, running out. Everything became overwhelming with odds. Even having written a book, toured the world motivating other artists, created four studio albums and set up my own record label plus continued to expand Songsalive! with 16 chapters worldwide,... I had lost the spirit of my own advice.

I started to feel my age. I started to look my age. I have always felt young and free-spirited. But I became oddly aware of my real age, my timing in life, and that time was seemingly running out.

I stocked up on more spiritual books by Neale Donald Walshe, Don Miguel Ruiz, Wayne Dyer, Carolyne Myss and Louise Hay. I stopped playing piano for fun. Only at gigs. Even then my fans noticed I looked bored. I stopped painting. I didn't write much (only when a project forced me to). I became disconnected to my purpose. I began to question "Why am I here?"

As an artist, I have always consider myself a pretty focused and creative individual. Finding my purpose in life had never been an issue. I always knew who I was and what I wanted to do. My objective had been based on an illusive, intangible goal of stardom. Yes, I admit,... even with all my writings and workshops, and how I motivate other artists about "living the journey", I was a victim of wanting that "holy grail": stardom-fame-fortune. Of course I had always seen it in a realistic way, because I was so confident about my abilities, I felt it was a given: I was going to be hugely and utterly successful. Fact.

I didn't realize, until recently, that the definition of my success, including the glamour of the Hollywood music business, and yes even including the cool grass roots indie way of doing things in this music business, was really... a lie. I had lived for 20 years towards a goal that in the end is one big fat lie. There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. This music business is rough, corrupt and illusive. It's all about who you know, how much money you have, and how sexy your dress style is. Whether you're a major artist or indie, business is still business. Fact. There is little room for true talent, raw ambition and a global mission for harmony in this music business, because it really is... a fashion business. Take a look at the music videos on VH1 and MTV now. That is, if you can find any, and those you find are full of glossy "pimp daddys" rapping to their sexy mascara-laden girls with big lips, bikinis and big everything else except their waste line. Is this art? You tell me.

I didn't sign up for this when I was eighteen. I just wanted to express myself, through my music and poetry, and let as many people in the world hear it. But I surely didn't expect to have to lie down in front of the corporate world, and 25 year old A&R "dudes" who have no idea what a good song is, to do it.

So I know damn well why I have been tired. I've been tired of the BS. I've been tired of people telling me that you have to do it a certain way to get heard. I've been tired of people telling me that there is no place for CDs anymore, after I just spent 2 years (and the rest) in the studio recording an album, with high definition sound, wonderful musicians, and  heart pouring out with emotion (let alone my pockets pouring out with money to do it.) To see my music, and my art squashed into a tiny mp3 and channeled into an iPod where people don't give a damn about the sound quality, the art work, the concept, the journey of the beginning to end of the CD, ... even the artist behind it... makes me puke. It makes me very tired, and very unmotivated to do it all again.

This business is still a "hit song" game. If it doesn't hit you in the face immediately, or if it's too long, or if it doesn't have a hook in the first 20 seconds, it's done. "Done like a dinner". If you're not writing with Sting or James Blunt, or you don't sound like James Blunt or Maroon 5 or Mariah Carey (I used to love her songs, now they are just clipped, pitch corrected beats and rap that truly has lost my affection for her), then you've got no chance. If you don't look like a preppy, nerdy, or on the other end, whore-ish" 19 year old, then you're too old. That is, if you want to play with the big fish. I spent hours researching L.A's KCRW's program director list for each radio segment, and sent my new CD to every one of them, with a personal note, and ideas on which songs would fit each program (as my album is as eclectic as their station). PASS. No comments, no "thank yous" just PASS. This is a radio station that used to take unsolicited, interesting music. Are they just like the rest of them now?

Yeah, there's an opportunity to play like little fish in smaller ponds, and that's what I've been doing.... I'm like a hugely known artist in America amongst artists and secular markets, but flying completely under the radar. Yeah, I can earn a living, and be independent, and enjoy my journey, etc. But, is this all there is? Does the buck stop here for me? Am I going to stay in perpetual festival and coffee house land, loved and admired by many, but me doing the same thing over and over again? When can I get some sleep? Doing it "indie" aint "easy".

I have written a book about success, defining it on one's own terms, and seeking only one's own approval. Well I did that. Here I am. I've approved my own art, I've proven myself and paid my dues. What now? Do I spend the next 20 years slogging it hard on the road, going from one hippy festival to the next, like Ani di Franco did and still does? I was just up at Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, Northern California. It reminded me of Woodford Festival in Australia, but way more commercialized. I liked the energy, but there was still beaurocratic red tape and mishaps just to get on the bill. Being on the road is hard work. Sure, you can sell CDs, but it's still a hard life. You either love it or you don't.

I enjoyed touring with Eric Idle (from Monty Python). We traveled U.S and Canada for 3 months playing to 2000+ seater theaters. I loved it. But it was still hard yakka (that's "work" in Awwstralian). We would load in to a new theater at noon, dress the stage (I was the stage manager and a performer), sound checked and performed the show, then loaded out at midnight. We'd hop back on the bus and travel all night to the next town. Load in at noon, and so forth. Fun for me. Consider that a celebrity such as Eric, having been doing this for perhaps 40 years, still has to schlep across the country in a van too. That's the life. It's not as glamorous as you think.

How about radio? It's no use anymore trying to promote to every radio station across the country, if you can't compete with the major artists and the record companies that still buy their way to the top 5 listening spots. It takes money and if you don't have money, there's no point in doing a national campaign. You'll just spend your money just to see a nice rotation report each week that is meaningless if you can't actually be in that small or big town to promote the airplay. Besides, there's more than radio now, what with the Internet, Satellite radio, and the ipods, including podcasting. There is a lot to choose from. Sure, spend every waking hour hopping on to every band wagon to give it a shot. I dare ya. I have. I don't sleep.

How about MySpace? A new internet phenomenon that is taking artists and the general public by storm. If you want to meet people, create your own site, blog and promote, this is a great site. I was told, in its infancy, that the more "friends" I had the better I was on MySpace. Well now I don't know. Alot of these "friends" are other artists, all wanting to be heard themselves. Not everyone likes to communicate online all the time. What happened to picking up the phone?

Gigs. Pay to play is still out there. How do we survive the market and make a dollar doing gigs? When will venue owners start paying a fee for original artists? Why do artists always have to be mini promoters too and constantly have to sell door tickets to get a small percentage of that? Surely their talents should be appreciated and paid for, like any other cover gig that often gets paid somewhere. And what happened to people actually going out and seeing live shows???? I don't think I can push my friends anymore to come see me live. They've supported me enough. I can't abuse that friendship all the time. So what to do? Not play anymore?? I get out of town. I tour. This is a 365 day job.

So what's the way? What is the path of least resistance with maximum success? What do we as artists need to do to survive the corporate melt-downs, the gruelling indie road, the business corruption, and make a living? How do we find a way to enjoy this journey? The "indie revolution" has certainly been a great leap forward for independent control over our music. The Internet has been a great champion for taking our business into our own hands. But we the artists, having to be everything all at once, cannot possibly take it seriously, or realistically, if we can't make a living doing it and can't enjoy the Process. Besides that, when will indie artists truly get a break, like the major artists, without having to sign with the devil. Is it possible?

I don't know. I just don't know. What I do know is that we, as artists, are here for a much higher purpose. Art and creativity never runs out, even though we may tire with the business end. There is always an abundance of creativity and musicality in us. I don't think I have ever heard an artist say, "oh, I ran out of things to write about," or "all my song ideas disappeared," or "I don't like my guitar anymore." Being artists is innate. It is what fuels us to keep going.

So what IS the purpose of life, after all? Is it to make sure we get to stand on our soap box and collect coins for doing so? Or is it to see who collected the most awards, hit songs, deals and airplay? Is this supposed to be a competition?

Or is it something to do with our inner selves tapping into a much higher mission in life, through our creativity?

I know that there is always enough creativity to allow us to be who we want to be for the rest of our lives. We don't have to rely on the arts business to confirm that, or acknowledge that. We can do that for ourselves.

I already feel motivated because I'm taking the time to write this to you. I have been writing my second book for 5 months now but I took a month off because I was stuck on this chapter (what you are reading). I was trying to work out how I should go about saying what I really felt, and was thinking of subliminal ways of saying it. But in reality, I had to just sit down and write what was truly on my mind. That's part of the process of writing this book. Being truly honest. I have the book title being "Just Get Out There" and yet I am constantly "going within" with my thought processes here. Most of my readers want to know the ins and outs of getting out there with their art and music and they look to me because, in their eyes, I have done so. Yes, I agree, to a certain point. But I will say, that it truly is all about the Process. It IS about going within and tapping into our truer destiny... in order to actualize it in reality.

The process unfolds as we create it, and the process unfolds by itself, without us even knowing it. We are merely playing a part. The cool thing about this, is that while we maintain our lives and careers, plotting and planning, being motivated or unmotivated, being creative or business like, the Process is happening subconsciously and if you truly believe in yourself (THIS IS THE KEY), then it will ALL WORK OUT according to the higher plan... your higher mission in life.

I have quite a few artists ask me often whether via email or in person "how to get out there". They want to know all the steps and often show their frustrations that they don't know the steps to take. But in fact, by making any step, in any direction, will bring you closer to your higher purpose. Just making the step is important. The facts, the direction, the tips, tools and resources come to us in our travelling. We pick up a book, or we go to a website ( really is filled with resources and tools), or we go to a seminar or class, and we learn something new. We go cybertravelling on the Internet or we look at other artists' websites to get ideas. Ideas come. It's up to us as to how we grab onto them, or let them go if they don't serve us personally. If we are connected to our Process, conscious and unconscious, we certainly will be on the right path. But we are not always cognizant of the real purpose and can easily be sidetracked by the meaningless act of doing. There is so much out there it's easy to be put off, or sidetracked.

So, what if we were able to tap into this unconscious Process and be awake during it? Wouldn't that be even more magical and success bringing? What if we ask for our biggest dreams, truly ask for them, and really tap into who we really can be? (our highest potential).

There is always enough. That means that whatever you want, if you truly want it, you can have. Whatever you don't want, and you focus on that, that will manifest instead. Like spinning wheels. If you just follow all the opportunities and end up in a quagmire of doing and energy dispensing for no reason, then you get... TIRED.

If I'm tired and unmotivated about an area in my life... maybe, just maybe I need to really listen to that as a sign that that may not be who I want to be. I don't have to live a persona just because I started off that way, or others expect me to be that way. I, and you, can change ourselves, our plans, our dreams at ANY time.

Here's the magic part about this: nothing in this business is real. It's an illusion. But this illusion is based on our own perception, our own reality. So everyone can see it and use it for their own purposes. You don't have to do this the way anyone else has. Just because one artist goes the major record deal route, and another uses MySpace to do grass roots tour hopping and fan collecting... doesn't mean you have to follow any of that. How you work it for your benefit is up to you. Artists are imaginative. We have the great opportunity to use our gifts to come up with "out of the box" creative ways to get our messages and music heard and our art seen and felt.

If you want to change something, the minute you think it, the Process will change in accordance to that. Let your conscious and subconscious thoughts and mind work together to bring you success, peace and joy.

The minute you think there is not enough opportunity, creativity, people to share with, money to have, that's the moment the Process stops working for you. Believing in the "not enough" is based on fear and feeling like we have to just try and survive. Believing in "I can, and I will" is all powerful.

That being said, I can and I will go pour myself some of that nice red wine and listen to the crickets.

Until next time, love, truth and peace

~ gilli moon

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

See where all our friends are on my Friend Map!

gilli moon started a Friend Map on Frappr so your friends can all see each other on a map. Come put yourself on the map!

To see gilli moon's Friend Map, click below or paste the url into a browser:

Thursday, April 13, 2006

See where all our friends are on my Friend Map!

gilli moon started a Friend Map on Frappr so your friends can all see each other on a map. Come put yourself on the map! To see gilli moon's Friend Map, click below or paste the url into a browser:

Friday, March 24, 2006

It ALL is all of me

Something about L.A..... this city tricks us into thinking we have "got it going on" but then we could really be spinning wheels.
This city makes it really difficult to concentrate on just one thing. You end up spinning plates, which is not a bad thing. I've always talked about 'diversifying talents' in order to gain opportunities in this business. Spinning those plates means several fingers in several pies. It all tastes good... just... maybe I should go on a diet.
There are so many distractions; so many projects; so many people. So much to do, so little time. Ha ha!
I sit here, in my quiet paradise in this city of angels, with my lava lamp on, paintings around the room, cool groovy music playing, and a huge pile of unfinished business in my computer inbox, plus a stack of papers and projects cluttering my desk and floor, staring at me saying "start me gilli, fire me up; work on me gilli, i'm going to make you millions; write me gilli, i'm your next important creative project..". These projects plague me so much I feel guilty, as if I haven't handed in an important assignment or essay to my teacher. But the only teacher here is me. I'm placing pressure on myself and I feel bad that I can't get to everything.
I'm happy though. I feel like my piles of to-dos are company for my restless mind, ready, willing and able to just fly into any territory and conquer. I am a servant to my creativity. I have no problem with creative flow. I know so many people have read Louise Hay's "The Artist Way" to help them unblock their creativity so they can be prolific in their art, or writing. As for me, I have it going on too much. I am a "yes" girl, and love to want to start new projects all the time. But then I have a laundry list of them to complete.
It's funny how we think we know who we are, that we have it all worked out in our minds, and we know what we want. Dreaming big, visualizing and then planning it can be daunting to most, but not to me. I'm a huge dreamer, and a great planner. I love to plan. I love getting the calendar out and plotting out my course of action. This month I'll prepare, record, write. Next month I'm off to Ireland to mentor budding songwriters at a songwriters retreat. Plus I have promotions to do for the new album. Following month, a big cd launch in Hollywood, then off to Texas to speak at a music conference and perform. By June I will have released the new Females On Fire compilation of thirty female artists, started writing my musical film script and recorded a whole album for my new Warrior Girl Music artist, Holly Light. Then more dreaming, visualizing, plotting and planning. This is all true. This is my life for the next three months. I have a full-on creative schedule called "my life".
I dream of lying on the beach with a margarita in my hand, contemplating how many sand particles are in between my fingers as i dip my toes in the warm ocean.
Life happens when you're not looking. That's what my friend and music artist, Max Sharam, said to me once. It's funny how weeks go by, even months, and sometimes you can't even remember what you did. In this city, it can be because there is SO much to do, and we do SO much, that it's hard to remember what we did yesterday unless we write about it.
So write about it. Write about what's going on with your creativity. Purge it out. Write that to-do list, like a big fat note on your bathroom wall. Then start crossing off the superfluous stuff: the tasks that you don't need to do. Eliminate the extraneous and get down to the nitty gritty: the truly important stuff.
When we begin to see differently, we think differently and we do differently. Just because everyone else out there is spinning their wheels and pushing along till they burn out, doesn't mean you have to. One amazing project might be better than a thousand little ones that don't get your full attention.
My whole philosophy of surrendering to the universe is really working. Lately, I've been listening to what I want to do "in the moment", rather than let my scattered mind control me and leave me restless. When I truly listen to my inner self, I start to see the divine plan.
It's stranger still when I realize that the most amazing accomplishments are ones that didn't get on my to-do list. They are the little things that sneak in when I'm not looking, and end up being champions. I signed up as the Director of a summer music camp for kids. I thought it would be a quick summer project later in the year. Little did I realize that this project is becoming a lifelong dream fulfilled, to share and nurture children in the most beloved area I know, music. I am so excited that it has consumed my attention for three non stop weeks as I've been hiring my teaching staff and promoting the camp for student enrollments. I literally dropped everything off my list to concentrate on this. It was a natural choice. Unbeknown to me, when it comes to kids, I melt. I've spent my whole life dedicated to education and I didn't even realize it. I even have a Bachelor of Education and thought I'd never use my degree. I've spent the better part of the last ten years, while pursuing my own music career, also conducing workshops, speaking on panels and now writing my second book, all about educating and empowering youth and young adults. I just didn't realize it was such a strong passion inside me, until I saw these kids jamming on stage the other day at the Camp Open House and I realized... gee Gilli.... this is who you are too.... a teacher.
When I wrote my first book, "I AM A Professional Artist" I was on the speaking circuit and did many media interviews, but all through that I denied I was actually an "author". I just thought I was a musician/artist who happened to write. But I get so many letters from people who've read my book, or seen me speak, or come to one of my workshops, and for some, it has changed their lives. They feel empowered, and invigorated after reading my writings or attending my workshops. The teacher in me is probably as strong as the artist in me. I didn't plan this. It just happened. Coming to this realization, and accepting this, is powerful for me.
Listening to our higher destiny is crucial for our happiness and ultimate success. As you know by now with what I write about, success is defined by you, on your terms. So when you begin feeling fulfilled and you know that you are on to something satisfying in every way, creatively, financially, and more, then you know it's right. That's success right there, when you've found your niche.
Pushing in several directions is ok, but when you stop pushing, and you allow it to come naturally, you'll find it all becomes a lot clearer. It's becoming clearer for me. I have nothing to prove anymore when it comes to being an artist. My fifteen year over night success story is simply this: I've come to understand who I am, and I'm confident in who I am. I'm talented, happy and much wiser today than yesterday. Everything I know, I'm willing to share, because there is certainly enough to go around.
You don't need any credentials to know who you are. Just faith. Faith in yourself and the confidence to go out there and put it all into practice.
What would you do if this was the last year of your life? For one, you'd delete all the little stuff and get on with what matters the most. Secondly, you'd probably not be so concerned about being famous. Fame is fleeting. What's much cooler is the art of doing.
My boyfriend, who is a very talented artist, and I were talking about music demos we did when we were young on cheap 4 track machines. We shared a common teenage-hood of staying up till the wee hours of the morning tracking seemingly amateur songs and beats, loving the process of creating. It wasn't about the big record deal or being famous, it was about getting through the night and creating an awesome song. Listening back to our demos, we both reckon some of them are better than the expensive recordings we've outputted today in our respective studios, for big albums. There was more creativity and uniqueness flowing in our demos that is inspiring us more right now than anything we've heard! I wrote more songs before I was 22 than I've done ever since. Isn't that wild? I was a creatively flowing tap, never ceasing. Same for him too.
Since those years I have always been creative, but I've also become a producer of projects, and a teacher, and an author/writer, and a business owner, and continuing as a performer. It ALL is all of me, and I'm joyous in that. I might have a lot on my plate, but it's only because I've put it there. I don't have a boss adding tasks to my inbox in a job I don't enjoy. I'm lucky. I'm my own boss. I might be a little hard on myself, and push myself a little for many reasons (to achieve personal best, financial security, project deadlines). But at least I look at a view of my backyard and can wake up when I want to.
Whether you do a lot, or you do a little, it doesn't matter. It's ALL of you. You can be a consummate artist, prolific in your writing, or you can be choosy and selective, outputting seldomly.You can work part time, or full time for someone else, and still be a professional artist pursuing your creativity. You can run several businesses, or none at all. You can do whatever you feel is right for you. It doesn't matter. There is no blueprint you have to follow. You are the master of your own destiny.
So do it, do it, do it, or don't. Whatever, you do or don't, enjoy the process.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Be the Bag - surrendering to intention

Sometimes, we want something to come to fruition so badly, we push so hard it hurts us. Sometimes, even with all the pushing, the drive and the effort, we don't even get what we set out to achieve.
Why is that so?
I was brought up to think that if you work hard you can make anything happen; that if you put in the required effort, and you stay focused on your end goals, everything will happen.
When we set out to do what we want to do as artists in the entertainment business, many artists feel that they cannot let anything get in their way of achieving their desires, ambitiously keeping to their life purpose . Actually music business representatives (labels, managers, producers, etc.,) tell them they need to be like this too. Then, they take on a pit bull like determination, with a "never give up" attitude, often sacrificing personal joy. I know that many have seen me this way in my life. I'm always seen as joyous, but certainly with a determined streak! They notice my unsurpassable resolve to stride forth, take on many challenges, and make mountains out of mole hills. I've always seen myself as highly ambitious, determined and a super achiever. I remember being told by quite a few "know-it-alls" in the business that I had to "choose" what I focused on for my career. I had to be totally dedicated and committed to being a music artist, and not let anything get in the way, including personal life (that cut out relationships or having a family), or other career options. "You gotta be in it to win it," they would say.
For the last ten years, I dedicated my life, every day, to my music career. I have been extremely committed, changing continents, moving to the heart and center of the music industry, L.A, to achieve my dreams. I have conquered so many hurdles to be here, including immigration papers, making money, getting to know the right people, everything. I won't say that I "sacrificed" alternate options of life (leading a quiet life on the beach could have been one of them), but I certainly remained focused on my mission in life. True - this is always what I've wanted to do. I was never the type to do a nine to five job or marry young. For me, performing, entertaining and making albums was everything , and I took on a ruthless, "go get 'em" mentality to achieve my dreams.
I have achieved my dreams and I continue to live my dreams on a daily basis. But I have expended a lot of energy in my past that quite frankly could have been better served if I had understood my intentions more, if I was more clear on my mission. I have done a lot, tried many things, achieved much, Mostly with trial by error. But many things I did was because I didn't know what I truly wanted. I knew the overall idea, but no specifics, and I often focused on a big picture outcome (the big dream), based on some idea of commercial success that the industry has drummed into me as being the only way, rather than building blocks one step at a time on my own terms.
There are no complaints from me though. I certainly have achieved many things and continue to. But more recently I've begun to believe that it's not about the work nor the effort, and definitely not the push. It is more about intent. It is about dreaming, about thought, about visualizing and about surrendering to (and enjoying) the journey. I have learned to define success by my own terms and live more in the moment: connected to my journey as an artist.
I remember watching the movie, American Beauty, starring Kevin Spacey, where the boy next door filmed his favorite home video and he showed it to his girlfriend. The video was of a plastic bag, just a bag, floating in the wind. It drifted here, then there, and up, down and over. It drifted with ease, it was light and in his mind, the most poetic and visually pleasing subject.
Be the bag.
There is much to read into this simple, small piece. In my mind, being the bag is about surrendering to the journey. Letting the wind, and the universe, provide our path, and trusting that path. It means that the outcome, the goal, is not so important. Yes, it can be a guide, and sure, stay ambitious, but if we are attached only to our end destination, and not about the journey, then we may only be disappointed. You see, life delivers us amazing things, but the most amazing are along the way, not necessarily at the end of a long hard journey, nor should we work ourselves into the ground along the way.
I notice that the more I am in touch with my inner intention, that indefinable force that attaches to my dreams and thoughts, things come to fruition more quickly and effectively. Large efforts or hard work are certainly great personal growth processes, but not necessarily goal realizing. While it's important to have a strong work ethic on the outside, it's the work I'm doing on the inside that is really allowing me to master my Art and my life, with freedom and joy. This all comes down to the powerful word of "intention".
Whatever I focus on, whatever I give attention to, whether I want it or not, I will create. This is where is gets really awesome for artists. As we are creative more often than not, our thoughts, desires and dreams build most of what will happen artistically and opportunistically in our lives. You get what you think. So if we focus on doing a lot of "hard work", we get a lot of "hard", a lot of "work" and a lot of "hard work" back. If we focus on a positive action or creative outcome, it will occur positively. But more accurately, if we focus on something we want... and then let go of it... and surrender to the universal forces.... it will definitely occur, and with great results, because not only are you giving power to your thought, you are also allowing the universe to share the power and help realize your dreams, plus provide you more freedom to truly create what you want and who you want to be.
Remember that saying, "if you love someone, set them free". Well, this is true also for your art. If you love your art, set it free. Don't cling onto it, push it, force it. Surrender to the universe and let it be. It will feed you abundantly if you find the freedom. This all starts with intention.
Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, author of "The Power of Intention", and whom I mentioned briefly before, has dedicated a book about intention, about how to make your dreams come true, about freedom and about surrendering. His writings are one of the new approaches and philosophies that has brought me to a new attention about fulfilling lifelong dreams. Ever since I saw the movie "American Beauty", and since reading many Toltec philosophy books, some by Carlos Castenada, Dyer's books and Don Miguel Ruiz books, I have come to a better understanding about the art of "letting go" and allowing the universe to show me my true path.
Dyer, like Castenada before him, sees intent as "not something you do but a force that exists in the universe as an invisible field of energy". It means, in a nutshell, that we don't have to do anything to create intention and any action and goals following that, but instead "allow" it to happen, almost as if there is an invisible force field manifesting our dreams for us.  It means connecting to our natural selves and letting go of total ego identification. Dyer expresses four steps to intention:
1. Discipline - training ourselves to perform as our thoughts desire. When our bodies are healthy and connected to our mind, the whole body can take on anything.
2. Wisdom - wisdom combined with discipline fosters our ability to focus and be patient as our thoughts, intellect and feelings work with our body.
3. Love - loving what you do and doing what you love. I have always believed that you need to be passionate about your art for it to come to fruition.
4. Surrender - my favorite part, for the exercise of this chapter: your mind and body let go of being in charge, and you move more into intent. When you surrender, you lighten up and be more in touch with your inner truth, and it will take you wherever you feel destined to go.
I am fascinated with Wayne Dyer's words and although he focuses on life development, it is equally fitting as a focus for you as an artist. I'm sure I will touch more about intention as we move forward in this book.
What is the opposite of surrendering? Clinging on. Attachment. If you are attached to the outcomes of something, so much so that you push for it, you will only meet with resistance.
So in summary, as we navigate through this book discussing all the cool ways to "just get out there", remember that it all starts with your intent, your intentions: what you really want. From there, everything is possible.
When I say "just get out there" what I really mean is "go within." Ooh, now we are really getting somewhere!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

a venue breathes a thousand words

I just came back from a show in L.A where I performed with a nineteen piece big band. The band, put together and conducted by Tim Davies (who is my drummer in my rock band), comprises of a 12 piece horn section, bass, drums (Tim), percussion, keyboards and guitar. I sung three of my original songs with the band (Tiny Diamonds from the "Woman" CD, Naked and Temperamental Angel from the "temperamental angel" CD) plus a Peggy Lee cover, "Don't Smoke in Bed". It was an utterly amazing experience and one that is so unique, describing it here in writing just doesn't do it justice.
As an entertainer, I have traveled the world performing for twenty years, but there are only a few performances that I can say are memorable, unique and inspiring. This is one of them. I performed with Tim's band last year for the first time, and going back for the second time tonight, was equally satisfying. Tim orchestrates my rock songs to fit the full big band, and charts all the instruments. It's so impressive. Gordie Germaine, my guitarist, joined me also, and he got a kick out of it too. I mean, there I am singing "treat me like an angel, a temperamental angel..." and all of a sudden six horns go off to my left with a snappy jazz routine that blows my mind.
Memorable gigs keep us artists alive. It's important to treasure the gems because on average the venues we are subjected to have the heart cut right out of it before we enter the door. We fantasize that being a "rock star" means living the life of luxury when it comes to performing, but most of the time you are dealing with bitter club owners, jaded musicians, no money (or little), smoky smelly bars, limited time to perform, late night slots, no parking, and skeptical audiences. Doing this for ten years and you can certainly say you've "paid your dues." So when those magical gem nights come along, cling on to them and fill yourself up with passion again, reminding yourself why you are an artist in the first place.
I remember opening for Simple Minds at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix a few years ago. I got the call the day before to go. They needed a solo act who would open for them for $100. I said ok. For me, I saw the bigger picture. A huge band, a huge stage, a huge theater. I performed to 2000 people, on a revolving stage, with phenomenal acoustics. I could hear a pin drop. By the end of my set I had people wrapped around the building waiting for me to sign CDs that they already had bought. They were just waiting for me. I was stoked.
Last year I performed at Australia House in London to 100 of the top Australian media and businesses. The room had a 20 feet high ceiling with Baroque style architecture and a cathedral feeling. I played a Steinway grand piano, and was handed flowers and wine when I finished by the consul general.
My music business successes are based on my personal memories of what made me feel fantastic.
I found an old diary entry about the L.A club scene. This will be entertaining:
18th July 01 - ok. Just so you don't think, by reading all this diary stuff, that gilli moon's world is all bubblegum and balloons, let me air a little of my frustrations about living and working in Los Angeles as an artist. Last night was a typical example of the Hollywood bull---t I deal with on a regular basis... well everyone deals with. It just makes me want to GET OUT OF THIS TOWN! So, we arrive at the club for a promised 7pm load in, for a 7.30pm sound check, only to be waiting in the wings till quarter to 8 before we even get a glimpse of the stage because the other band who's after us feels the need to rehearse every line of their set! We finally get on stage and we are sound checking and I ask politely to the girl behind the bar, who seems as cold as a fridge, if we could "please have our drink tickets" to which she replies with a tongue like ice, "you have to get them from the manager in the back room." She's oblivious to the fact i'm sound checking nor gives me any nice sentiment what so ever. I realize, on another note, that my name is not on the bill outside even though I booked the club months and months in advance to be featured (I've played this club many times before). Uggh! Then I'm called into the ticket booth to be once again harassed by the guy at the door who looks at my 20 industry door list and says, "you can only have 10 free entry." I sigh in exasperation... I mean! we're playing for free, we give it up for free, we work our butts off, and this is the kind of treatment we get in return? So I go back stage where the bouncer at the back door is a bull dog and he literally picks up my roadie by the shirt and throws him back inside not letting him exit via the back door. Nice neighborhood! He yells at me for not indicating who's in my band. Like he NEEDS his power trip today. I then try and find some quiet minutes on my own backstage but need to pass the front to go to the bathroom, trying to avoid the audience (it gives me the jitters if I see anyone before a show) and the blondie at the bar yells at me to come over. She NEEDS to talk to me she says. I ask if it can wait till after. I don't want to be seen. "No", she yells, so everyone hears her , "I NEED TO TALK TO YOU!" I reluctantly show my face and she then says, "so, who's in your band to get free drinks or is it anyone who says 'Gilli' that gets free drinks." I say, "no just the band thanks." (I wasn't going to give up my credit card for everyone who knows my name). She says, "well how will I know who's in the band?" I'm thinking, surely they have a system to work this out by now. How many bands do they have every night? But I reply, "anyone with blue paint on their cheeks." (My band wears blue paint). She just didn't get it. So I'm trying to deal with her, shouting over the crowd who are agitated waiting for the show to start. I'm trying to avoid the people and have some kind of mystery by being invisible before I go on... and all I want to do is GET BACKSTAGE. Oh no, the door guy wants another word with me, so once again across the room I go... Ouch, I just want to go home! ANYWAY..... the band and I did a huge, great show. We had props, I painted 2 canvases, danced, jumped, felt high as a kite, it was SO much fun. Maybe I need tension before a gig. After I get off stage and of course the bouncer immediately pushes us out the door so the boys' gear is literally sitting on the sidewalk. Not even a minute to repose. These clubs do it every time. NO RESPECT! Can't they think of two simple things? One, supply backline. Wouldn't it be so much easier if all 4 or 5 bands who play on the night can use same drum kit and amps? It would save time and space. 2. Offer a secondary room goddammit! I mean, I played the Whisky a couple of weeks ago and it's brutal. Last song and you are sitting on your amp on the street on Sunset Blvd wondering "how the heck do I get my car here to load the gear, before someone steals it, and then be able to park the car again (parking is the pits) so I can schmooze a little which is why I do this goddammit Sunset Strip gig in the first place. Sh-- I'll just go home!" I had a crazy come up to me and try and squeeze the life out of me in a bear hug that was close to needing a restraining order. Weird people in Hollywood. Then I'm dealing with some 20 year old industry person who thinks he's the answer to everything and gives me his feedback of the show. I'm all keen asking him how he liked my set. I felt I did a great set - lots of power and energy, dancing, painting, vocals tight, band tight. I was ready for the feedback.Twenty years old and this A&R rep from Capitol thinks he knows every answer as to why I won't get signed or how I will. "Hey babe, nice set. Pretty outfit. It's all about the hit song though babe.. Deliver us the hit song and we can talk." I walk away in complete shock. Why do they hire such kids!! I go home and all I think about on my windy Canyon drive back over Beverly Glen is... I gotta get out of this town. I can't tell you how much energy I delivered, how much the band gave it up.I mean we did a great, great show.... AND FOR WHAT????? We sold 2 cds. 2 is better than none I guess. But in the long run, what's it all for? Hollywood children who run the business and have no idea about art? They say, "give us hit songs, that's what we really need." Well that saying is old. We gave 10 hit songs, a magic show with dance, action, energy, visual art and color, an awesome rock band. Those who don't see it, are naive. Record Companies out there - you are hiring the wrong people to scout talent. I'm so tired of the music industry bull----. But I love my artistry. I'm passionate, strongly passionate about that. Goodnight."
A venue breathes a thousand words. Performing in the big cities where it's like fighting tooth and nail, can suck the life out of you. Small towns, for that matter, can do the same. You can be performing in the same little bar with the locals for years, and feel like you're never getting ahead. It's all relative.
For me, it's about finding those gems of performances that are unique, memorable and feed me first and foremost. If I can feel passion for it, others will feel the passion seeing me.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

finding truth through stage personas

Some of the best bands on record (meaning album) are not great live. Some bands get signed because of a great demo, but haven't had enough experience nor begun to explore the dynamics between the musicians. Developing an "act" is more than just putting a good CD together. It's about the way the musicians play (live), the clothes they wear on stage, the way they relate to the audience, how they stand on stage, the patter in between songs,.. the whole "live stage persona".
For most of my performing life I have felt that if you can be a little "over the top" with your performance, then you can grab people's attention quickly. I learned that early, playing in smoky pubs in Australia with people who really didn't care at all about the performer. They just wanted to drink beer and if there was a song they liked, they sung along. But to get any attention, you had to be an over the top entertainer. The stage persona became the most important thing for me.
It took me along time to not take myself so seriously as an artist. I remember the early days in Sydney when I would go into a deep sweat preparing for a show. I had to get the right clothes, have the right makeup, have the right hair do or color. I have had every hair color imaginable! Brown, blonde, red, white, mahogany, purple, even blue, and so many styles, from short punky to long and frizzy. In the early nineties I thought I needed to be a little bohemian, a little hippy, a little punk and a lot of attitude. I always wanted to show off my midriff, wear big loop earrings and fancy shoes. Black was in.
I was still learning the art of performance though. When I first started out performing my original songs live, I was very shy. It's funny because I was also, at the same time, performing in cover bands and I was very dynamic, on the contrary. In cover bands I could play a part, and imagine what the original artist, like Donna Summer, did on stage. I could imitate the original artist.
But with my original material I was shy and very uncomfortable playing the piano and singing at the same time. I found it a really difficult thing, to think about my lyrics, play the chords, sing in tune, and remember there was an audience in front of me that needed attention. I closed my eyes a lot.
When I got to the States, I learned to let go. For starters, I was able to be whoever I wanted to be, from scratch; reinvent myself, so to speak. So I decided to be brave, and be a little "out there". It worked.  I wore spandex dresses, four inch wedge heels, silver and glitter somewhere on my body (and especially as glitter cream on my cheeks and shoulders), and even wore wings throughout the temperamental angel album tour (2000-2001). Being "in persona" I was able to take flight as an artist. Always a diamond in the rough, my music, songwriting and voice got stronger, but at least I got attention. When I was signed to Tribe Records I even dressed up as a man for a year on stage. That was fun. We had developed a band called Jessica Christ, which pushed the envelope with gender issues: actually we wanted the audience to remove the gender association with songs, and promote the lyrics, the words, to be the most important elements, so I changed my stage gender for kicks, a direct idea from the Label in order for us to get some media attention (which came). I'd start off in plaid trousers and a jacket buttoned up, short cropped blue hair and a Salvador Dali curly mustache on my face, singing sweet love songs, and full on rock and roll too. Half way through the second song I'd literally strip and reveal a short body hugging dress, always keeping my black high boots on. 
Jessica Christ was a real breakthrough for my stage persona, and for releasing my inhibitions. There is something to be said about going "over the top" on stage. You really confront all your fears and learn to let go. As soon as you let go of any fears or nerves, which can be disguised behind costumes as we become a different persona, the more your inner natural self can exude. I remember doing a gig at The Gig on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood and it was packed: girls and guys upfront, with lighters swaying in the air. Girls looked on with awe and felt the power of a woman doing what I was doing on stage. It gave them strength. Guys were curious about my sexuality, but they felt the sensuousness. They were all in love, and it didn't matter. The crowd started hooting and hollering when I'd change attire, never missing a beat on the song. It was an electrifying feeling. I really let loose and didn't care what people thought. My sexuality is tied into my expressing myself through music. When I perform, sexuality naturally exudes. For me, it was all about entertainment, and through my image development over the years, my musicianship and vocals got tighter.
June 2000 diary entry: "We've (the Jessica Christ band) been playing the traps around L.A to great crowds and not so great crowds (you have to take the good with the band), sometimes rude club managers and sometimes great promoters. Playing live in L.A is somewhat challenging because you never really know who's going to come and see you on any given night. We had all of 15 people at The Mint on Pico, but a couple of weeks earlier the club was packed with 150 at the Gig. I've been battling with the ideas flowing in my head about my music. I have had so many deep and emotional events that have taken place over the past year... the new songs are all very autobiographical.. like you will hear the beginning, middle and end of the relationship in one sitting. The edge is interesting. No more miss nice girl. I'm coming alive!"
Following the Jessica Christ era was my "temperamental" phase, promoting my first U.S release on my own label Warrior Girl Music. The album "temperamental angel" conjured up a lot of imagery and ideas as to how to present myself on stage. For me it was about being a rebel and and an angel, in the way I sung, performed and how I sounded. I wanted to bring out different personalities, as we all are complex individuals with many personalities and masks. I had a song called "Naked" which was very sensuous, and the title track really spoke about my multi-personalities, being the angel and the devil (or at least dealing with those different parts of us).
March 2001 diary entry: "I spent last Sunday trotting down old train tracks downtown l.a in a sticky black plastic dress with dark sunglasses, my 'don't mess with me' boots, and white wings, while a train came by. We were filming the rest of the footage of the "Temperamental Angel" music video.  They then had me wrapped in saran wrap, naked, in the living room. I love getting naked! Just got home from The Gig, Hollywood where Jeff, Gordie, Ric and I played at Mike Galaxy's Industry Showcase. I felt it went really well and we sold quite a few CDs plus accumulated new fans. Both Jeff and I wore our wings and Ric adorned my pink feather bower by the 6th song. I love "doing Hollywood" because you can wear whatever you want on stage and in fact so do the people in the audience. Tonight for me it was simply freaky colored hair and my angel wings. The blue warriors, the honest, hunky and adorable band who funk and groove with or without gilli moon, are knocking the socks off everyone and that makes gilli a proud mother goose. The Whisky a Go Go never saw anything like it last Thursday even though they've had, well, just about everybody there. But we have paint flying - and Gordie our guitarist enjoyed that on is body, dress swaying (that's mine), heads nodding, boots kicking, a voice warbling, and music well, will take you away to the MOON. It's quite funny that where once gilli moon was so sweet and a "piano ballad" gal, she has turned almost heavy metal in her black boots but still so calm and sultry when "Naked" comes on. The Press seem to enjoy the controversy.
When I came out with the "Woman" album, I was all about the "warrior girl" - wearing combat attire (before it was popular!), with green army camouflage pants, boots, and a cool, spunky tank top. It gave me room to run around on stage. I also was painting a lot on stage, what I call "SensuArt". I'd erect a large clear piece of Perspex (plastic) on stage and get my brushes and paint out. I'd stand behind the clear canvas painting lots of female nudes and faces, while the band would solo and jam. I have painted my band members many times too. It was a lot of fun.
I've run the gamut of stage personas. It helps develop the artist's story and removes the fear. Every gig should be special. They have all been for me.
My "live image' changed when I started touring. I began seriously touring across the United States in '02, promoting the "temperamental angel" album. To keep it affordable, I went solo, without the band. This meant that that I was responsible for everything: getting to the venue, organizing my music, playing the keyboards (my fingers certainly got a lot stronger), entertaining a strange crowd, selling CDs (although have always had help on this from fans and friends), and packing up. At a certain point it got too tiring to "put on the big show" with the costumes and any theatrics. I started out on my first tour with a small color wheel light that revolved and changed lights as I performed. But I sold it for $50 in Phoenix Arizona into the second week.
I ended up just taking my shoes off, and just singing my songs on the keyboard. This was the beginning of finding my true self on stage.
I no longer wore the outfits, frizzed my hair up, or even put on any over the top makeup. Over a few years of being on the road consistently, traveling every state in the country, I became less and less concerned about my costuming or stage persona. I didn't have time and I was too tired. I became more concerned about my songs, my vocal and music performance, and being authentic.
Authenticy is the ultimate goal as a live performer. If the audience doesn't feel your truth, then they can't relate to you. Being on the road was a huge awakening. I don't have a problem with any band going for the "glam rock" or over the top image. I feel every band has to go through that process, and it has many positives, especially when developing and you want to learn to "let go" on stage. And if you are all about "image" and that's what people relate to, then all the power to you. But I have grown accustomed with the notion that it doesn't matter how you look: it's how you act. It's who you are inside.
I've seen the worst bands all dressed up, with the full stage presence - lights, costumes, props,... the works, and then be left unimpressed with their talent. Then I've seen the most humble of artists get up in jeans and a t-shirt, no makeup or frills, and truly grab my attention.
The more grass roots I've become, more laid back and real, the more positive feedback I've received on my show and my music. Of course, this is a ten year overnight success story here. I'm no spring chicken. I've learned a lot. One has to get their chops up on stage for a long time to make it look natural!
These days, especially after the fourth album, "extraOrdinary life", I've really tuned in to my songs and writing, and I remember the story around them whenever I sing them. I go back in time, every time and live that emotion, and the audience feels that. Being able to touch souls is so magnificent, and it doesn't matter what you wear. But it does matter how you exude your passion. It does matter how you deliver. Eye contact is important. Contact in general, with your audience, is important. Humility is important. Not taking yourself so seriously is VERY IMPORTANT.
I remember seeing Celine Dion in concert in Sydney. Whether you like her music or not, I encourage anyone to see her live or check out her live videos. There must have been 20,000 people at this concert, and she had every one of us eating out of the palm of her hand. We were silent and riveted. She spoke to me like I was the only person in the room, and sung my stories in her songs. She has a fabulous sense of humor (she knows what to say between songs), and never ends a song until she's ready. If you notice, she'll finish the song on a note, maybe an arm outstretched, maybe her eyes closed; and the band will stop, so will she - and everything is silent. We hang in the suspense. When she finally drops her arm (it could be even 5 or 10 seconds after that final note), we then applaud. She decides when the song is over. Until then, we are her audience slaves. It's superb.
 I have loved my stage persona journey. I'm sure there is more to come with how I will express myself live. I have always admired Madonna's finesse in reinventing her image every album she makes. I like that idea because I love making concept albums. Each album tells a story. It has a theme, a plot, a journey to take the audience on. So too should the live performance, matching the essence of the album. Madonna is great at that, and never afraid to push the envelope.
Stage costumes can be a great ice breaker, to bring across your artist story and concept. Developing an image is crucial, of course. But with or without costumes, if you can touch people's hearts, then you're on the right path. There is much controversy about developing an artist's image in the music business. The media love to grab on to a story of some kind, and the business doesn't like to have to guess who you are. They like to see it in your music and how you look. They want to be able to market something. It's the same for independent artists too. Image around your album concept, your website, your live performance persona, even your character in the general public, all tie in to who you are as an artist. I believe that your persona as an artist is crucial to telling your story and creating a buzz.
But in all of that... always remain authentic to your true self. Keep changing, evolving, and tap in to your passionate self. TRUTH and PASSION is everything. This, my friends, will make the difference between you being a quick, fly-by-night fashion trend, versus being an eternal, lifelong, rock star.