gilli moon products

Monday, January 30, 2006

make a decision and make it the right decision

 "Don't chose the easiest road but the best. It will become easier after a while." - anonymous
 As independent artists, we are always facing tough decisions, mainly because we are running our own affairs and usually don't have a team or especially a company with advisers to tell us which moves to make.
 The process of decision making can make us feel anxious, create fear, and thwart our process of creation. Making a decision usually requires a very black and white answer - will I won't I, can I can't I, should I, shouldn't' I? Whilst some people might say that there are right and wrong decisions, I believe this to be inaccurate. There are no wrong decisions. Just make a decision, and make it the right decision
 Once you choose - and empower that choice - follow through with it, with conviction. You will surely then feel that decision work for you in a very positive way.
 You will grow enormously from enacting on a decision.
 Reflect on some of the hardest decisions you've had to make in your life... I'm sure you'll recall that as a result of following through with that decision, you would have received enormous good lessons and amazing outcomes.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


 The only obstacle we have with time, is what we place on ourselves.
 Time for one's artistry has often been an obstacle for many professional artists. "I never get the time to write," I hear them say. I've even said it myself.
 The fact of the matter is that it is up to you to create that time for your artistry, even if that means being strict with your time management. Some feel that they can't take on a full time job, because then they wouldn't have time to create. But not getting enough income in can even be a bigger obstacle in having time to create. You spend more time worrying about money and not creating!
 When I decided to take on a full time job at one point in time, having had enough of being poor, I began to realize that I was able to make the time to create. The full time job put me into a schedule, a routine. And in that routine I created pockets of focused time to create. I ended up recording (having the money to record) and promoting 2 albums during my time as a full-time wage earner. I felt secure, and I felt empowered that I was in control of my music and product, because I could pay for it to own the masters.
 Time can be an obstacle, but it's us that creates the obstacle. Putting your mind to the task at hand can allow you to create mountains of creativity.
 It's up to you.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

make a contribution because it contributes to you

Beyond the "me, me, me", there is something wonderfully fulfilling about making a contribution to the world.

I surround myself with like-minded people who also foster this same philosophy. I'm very blessed to have a voluntary team of over thirty songwriters and liek-minded individuals who make up the Songsalive! team, running our non-profit showcases and workshops around the world. I didn't push them to volunteer. They have always contacted me over the years and be part of our altruistic endeavor. Songsalive! runs on the principle that whoever contributes to it, whether that is by the team or the members who donate as low as $30 a year, will all receive invaluable gifts in return. These gifts can only be measured by the individual. It might be something like a cool promotion, or opportunity to perform, or a new resource, workshop or article that helped their education, or a lead to pitch their song to someone looking for songs. The gifts are in abundance but it really all depends on whether the individual "sees" them, and appreciates them for what they are.

There is only one reason why we do anything in all, and that is to express, experience and become our truest selves. This self-defining process is what I call "creativity" in its purest form, and it is ongoing, every day, every moment. As we express and experience, we are contributing to others' development and in turn touching our own lives. Touching your own life is the highest of it all.

Some people contribute their energies to non-profits, voluntary organizations and groups, even bands (as musicians) and then complain about it later. They give of themselves and then swiftly retract it thinking that their energy is not appreciated or money not well spent. Or they feel hard done by because they find out the pay wasn't good, or they didn't get a certain exposure they expected. This happens a lot with artists who perform at a show or festival for free and spend time and money to be involved, but then feel jaded when post-event they don't feel they got anything out of it. I've had songwriters complain that they didn't get a record deal or get signed some way from a CD compilation we've produced with their song on it. They paid some low-cost amount (that is way cheaper tan if they release the song on their own cd) and did nothing else expect the whole world to land on their feet offering them the moon. They didn't see how much effort was put into the project, how much it was promoted and distributed and the value of the exposure. Publicists and music magazines get the same criticism. Artists often think that if they pay for an Ad or pay for PR services, that they expect to be signed or get a full house at their next gig.

But you can't expect others to make it happen for you like this. Sure, exposure in all these forms is great. But they are merely tools to add to your existing momentum. Get exposed and promoted in every which way you can, but don't complain if those resources don't provide you with fame or fortune. You never know, maybe your song sucked! Or the image wasn't to people's taste? All these can contribute to it.

But the real reason is that everyone has their own story in life. Just because you put your stuff out there, doesn't mean everyone is going to hop to it and listen to you, call you, come see your show. Everyone has their own agenda and sometimes circumstances play a factor, like the weather, current economy, being unknown in a certain region, not enough of a story about you that they instantly like you. It takes time to develop a buzz. If you're doing it all on a budget it can take years. That's ok. Because guess what? You are an artist for life. You have all the time in the world. There is no end-date here. (Only in your minds). Here's another quick statement: it doesn't matter how old you are? "What!" I hear you say? That's right. In this current music business, you can be any age you want. It's all about the market you promote to. That's all. But this is for another time to delve into.

For now, be mindful that we get a lot out of everything we do and give in life. It's all based on perspective. Plus, it's opportunistic to be patient. For what may look like a bad decision may, in the end, be the best thing you've ever done for your career, given time.

If you have expectations undermining your initial voluntary contribution, it will totally backfire on you.

Here's an example of how expectations ruin what really is a wonderful experience and opportunity.

One weekend I asked my band mates in L.A to drive down to San Diego to play a small acoustic show in a female gay bar. Firstly, my band mates (guys) were totally turned off to a) perform in a gay bar (not being phobic or anything, they just like the Sunset strip rock-out atmosphere)
b) driving the long distance
c) not getting paid much
d) not being able to amp up. Acoustic was the last thing they wanted to do.

I urged them to do it because I felt it would be great for our exposure, a new experience in a brand new market, and we could also try some cool stage ideas. I asked my bass player to play an upright bass (those huge things that are hard to lug but sound amazing), I played keyboards and my guitarist was on acoustic guitar. We did the gig and the place was full with people who had never heard me but were becoming fans there and then. People signed the mailing list and we sold CDs. We even were treated to a meal.

The following day, both my band mates resigned from my band. I was shocked. I didn't understand. But they said that doing such a gig was the final straw of playing in places where "no one cared, the venues didn't pay and the sound was terrible." I told them that I cared, and that, yes, the people cared. They may not have been so visible about it to them. That didn't go down too well. I mean, here they were playing with me often for free, under my name (not a band name) and I guess they felt their contribution was not serving them enough. I did understand that they weren't "getting" how the whole gilli moon experience was in their favor. Maybe they were looking for some return on their energy investment that I hadn't delivered. I didn't understand.

You see, I believe that if we do anything in life we do it because it's for our own self-growth and for who we are and who we want to become. I don't ask for favors from anyone. If I contribute my time for someone, I'm not sitting there waiting for a return, or expecting some result that might never happen. I do it "because". I do it as an experience I need to do, and an expression I need to make, for my life.

I saw such immense value from doing that San Diego gig. I believe in building one fan at a time. So if only one person was in the room, who signed my mailing list, then I know they will spread the word to two others, who will spread to four, then eight and all of a sudden I've reached a group of people I'd never reach before. But in fact this gig was packed. They loved what we did. We were able to experiment with new sounds and instrumentation on stage. Even that in itself is what artistry is all about right? Who cares about the business side and the venues; isn't writing songs and performing all about that expression first? Aren't we as musicians supposed to enjoy the creative pursuit in performance and experiment? If we don't have joy in THAT what's the use of even doing anything else?

Doing that gig has not only brought these small but immeasurable experiences to me, but on that night I met a journalist who then reviewed my album, which then spread the word up the North coast and over to Arizona, which opened up whole new playing fields to perform in. The domino effect is big.

These days I have one strict rule about playing in my band. Only one. Play with me because you love creating and performing. If a musician comes into it with a hidden agenda of some notions of fame, fortune or anything business like, then they are out. Los Angeles is a tough town and the reason why people get jaded here is because they bring their career expectations to their music playing. If a gig doesn't go right, and 'such and such' isn't in the audience to see them play, or they didn't get paid, or the PA sucked, or there was only 5 people in the room, most musicians complain and complain until eventually they lose the desire to perform at all.

But if you go into the performing circuit hanging on to your initial passion for the art form, and don't expect ANYTHING at all, but just create your art and your circle of influence, then not only will you ENJOY the performance, but, ironically, the opportunities will actually come flying at you... because you least expect them. This is a universal law.

 Everything that goes around comes around, and what you do for another, you do for yourself. Simple as that.

Go in to it with joy, and come out with more joy.

gilli moon

Friday, January 27, 2006

Be it.

It's confusing sometimes to know how we are supposed to get out there. Is there a road map to follow? There is no plan. Most of us feel we can only proclaim to be anything if we are earning a living from it. If we can make money from our music then we are so-called professional artists. Until then we sit in our little cubicles at work earning an income we resent because it's not from a job we a repassionate about, and procrastinate about doing what we prefer to do.
But nothing is done unless you endow it first. That means, that if you are a songwriter and you want to earn money from your songwriting, then you have to write songs first. Even working a part time job, or full time, you can still find time to write songs, even record them. Heck put the cd out there too. The job might be able to fund it if you're good at saving.
You have to BE the person before you can DO anything. Just by being that person you will begin to think in the right way, and your intentions will manifest to action and immense creativity, which then brings opportunity and an amazing adventure.
There are no cosmic lessons to learn by sticking to a mundane life and only dreaming. You need to enact!
No reason to rationalize the why-nots. Be courageous and just get out there.
gilli moon

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Become a great creative explorer

I am an artist and a motivator. I perform, I write, I speak, I motivate. I motivate myself and I motivate and inspire others. Why? Because firstly I love what I do, and the passion for my art shows and is felt by others. Second, I don't mind how I invigorate my artistry. That is, if I do it for me that's great, but if I do it for others, that's great too. Whether I perform on stage, or speak on panels and conduct workshops inspiring artists to just get out there, or whether I sell my CDs or sell my books, all this energy is good for me. I love it. Besides, I'm an explorer and this is the essence of it all... to be that constant creative adventurer.
How far would you go to change the world?
Who do you work for? Someone else's ambition? Fame? Recognition? Material possessions? God?
Our lives are not meant to be wasted on just maintaining our lives. By that I mean, working hard and spinning your wheels just to maintain the status quo you have built: house (mortgage), cars, social life, 9-5 routine. There is more to our lives!
Aesthetics, beauty, creativity, nature, adventure. Step out of your comfort zone of normalcy and you will find a whole world opens up to you.
Become a great explorer!
Consider that most people live in a world that doesn't include really and truly giving to others, or even themselves. They spend their lives existing on a maintenance level, getting up and going to work, paying the bills, feeding the family, buying possessions that require more hard work to pay the bills, same routines, and often frustrated with their lives. A lot of it has to do with fear. Most of it, however, is based on an unwillingness to change habits and get out of one's comfort zone, which is also part ignorance, part fear related. But if we can be creative,understand and enjoy the beauty of art, and give to our community at large by volunteering or contributing something, then we are already well on our way of being a great explorer.
As soon as you remove the "me me me" out of your every day living, and starting thinking of "we", opportunities open up. More so, being willing to go beyond the call of duty to complete a project, with a pursuit of excellence, coupled with a keen desire to tap into the spiritual part of ourselves, brings forth a renewed sense of self. This calmness is based on a certain 'knowing' that you will embrace about yourself and the world around you. Live life to grow everyday and evolve as a human being, with all facets of your life in full harmony: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.
Intention is the most important factor in creating change. Thoughts are powerful. By merely thinking an idea, you have set the seeds for it to come to fruition.
Wayne Dyer, brilliant author who wrote the "Power of Intention", wrote "The use of mental imagery is one of the strongest and most effective strategies for making something happen for you." It is my opinion that if we can appreciate our past creative results, know where we are right now, and set upon new goals based on intention, we can achieve amazing dreams and accomplishments. If we are able to write down in any form (point form, paragraphs, full pages) of what creativity we have achieved in the recent past, what we don't want, and what we do, then we can create tangible goals MENTALLY that provide fuel for our thoughts and intentions to come to life. By visualizing our past, present and future towards the end of the year, it's even better: way better than a new year's resolution which can sound exciting on new year's eve to think about it, but rarely do we actually accomplish it.
How can you remove the maintenance clause of your life and become a great explorer? One way is to answer three important questions to yourself that is about your Intention. I call this exercise the Creative Explorer exercise.
Ask yourself three important questions.
What have I created over the last year?
Write down all the things you did last year. For artists, this can be easy because we can think of all the art, music and artistry we created. I'm a very project oriented person. So I wrote down all the projects I did, creative or not, like producing a CD, touring around the country, speaking in some interesting workshops, painting a picture, writing a new song. I then made it even more impactful and wrote down what I felt were accomplishments for myself (not based on what others thought I should do and what would deem "successful" in their eyes, but rather internal desires that I achieved.) Some of these creative accomplishments included personal growth, relationships, body fitness; and others included finishing an album, getting a certain deal, etc. Spend some time writing what you created. Write whatever you feel. It's private for you to read to yourself. By writing it down you are disciplining yourself to remember certain projects, creativities and accomplishments, that sometimes we forget, or we don't give enough energy to. This is the time to give some energy to your recent past creativities. Write it down, read it, accept it.
What am I over?
The next segment is writing down what experiences, belief systems, circumstances, modes of operandi or behaviors that no longer serve you. Put some energy into this area but don't treat it like a negative task. This is merely an exercise in writing down patterns, people, creativity, anything that you would like to remove from your life, your daily energy. I was pretty generic with my point form list. I included things like "bad relationships that are destructive and zap my energy", and "crappy gigs where the venues don't foster positive energy", and another one was "being lazy". You can write down anything that is pertinent to you. It could be something specific, like a creativity or project, or it could be broad, encompassing feelings, states of being, experiences. Write it down, read it, accept it.
What am I going to create now?
Now with long lists and writings for the first two questions, you are now ready to let them go. Yes that's right, relinquish your past, and your dislikes. Now is the time to establish a new foundation, serve a new purpose for yourself in your creative life. This is where you tap into your higher nature and ultimate destiny. Write down what you want to create this coming year, or in the near future. You don't have to be date specific. This can include creative/artistic projects, relationships, personal goals, professional goals; anything that provides you a positive purpose in your life. Be general, and be specific. Don't hold back. Dream the big dream, and write it all down. In this final part of the Creative Explorer exercise, you are tapping in to your true self, and allowing your subconscious to spring forth pure intention, from vivid dreaming. If writing holds you back, start drawing too. Visualization, as I've mentioned before, is a great way to enable thoughts into actions.
Once you have done this exercise, you can put this away. Let is hibernate and do its work in a little drawer somewhere in your room. At some stage you can pull it out and revisit it. But the writing down part is merely a tool to help your brain focus on who you truly are and who you want to become.
Exploration into the unknown can be a little scary, but it's the only way anything was ever discovered. Leap empty handed into the void.
How exciting!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Once upon a time there was a thought. Aiming up towards the sky.

When we seek others' counsel, it sometimes is diverted, this thought, towards a perspective others feel is best for us.

And sometimes we go down that path and it turns sour, away from our original intent.

And we lay flat wondering why we tried so hard, when we feel we have failed.

So we go within, still, and regroup. It's okay to be yere, for as long as necessary.

Until we once again dream big, visualize and think. Focusing our thoughts, listening to our own true heart, aiming up towards the sky.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

dreaming versus visualization

I've been dreaming a lot, sitting on this beach down at Bondi in Australia. January is a great time to dream. I used to dream a lot as a kid too. But I think there is a strong difference between dreaming about something and visualizing something.
Visualizing is the act or process of putting ideas into visual form. It's multi-dimensional, and is based on reality. The goal? To gain a deeper understanding of a concept that might be in our head, and bring it out into visual form.
We use the word "visualizing" a lot. It can be rather esoteric. But it really is about putting something into visual form. But what does that mean? Drawing our ideas? Not necessarily. I think that visualizing can be a mental drawing: we see it in our minds, and it becomes tangible to grasp.
So what's the difference between dreaming and visualization?
If you just dream about something, all you will ever receive is more dreaming. It doesn't necessarily mean that it will come to life. So many artists just dream about what they want out of their lives and careers. They want to be stars. They want to be on radio. They want fame, success. Well we all know that these notions aren't REAL as words in themselves. Artistry is about the journey, and about doing. Thoughts are powerful. You  think, it can become real. But thoughts too, if not visualized, can stay as thoughts, as dreams. Visualizing means that you are taking your dreams and forming a plan. If you have an idea, if you spend more time seeing it in your mind, mulling over the various forms of the idea and it's outcomes, writing a little, drawing even, but definitely "seeing it" in your mind, that idea has more chance of coming to fruition.
I suggest that the next time you sit there day-dreaming, why don't you plot out a course of action that might work. Yeah, a little bit of dreaming helps to build on your imagination, but seeing it in your mind and seeing it coming true, will make it true.
I sat drawing in the sand today and I felt excited about my projects. Aren't you?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Learning how to relax

Fresh perspectives, fresh ideas and new starts. That's what a new year is all about. I've spent the day wondering why I am continually on the computer, busily going through my to-do lists, thinking I should try and relax. I'm staying in Bondi Beach, NSW Australia right now, up the road from the beach. I have the candle list, the incense going, some spiritual books lying around, but I can't seem to make headway with my email inbox. Every time I file an email away or delete the superfluous, more come in. So I go for a walk around the block, sit on the beach and ponder. Then I get bored, go back to my make-shift desk and go through my to-do list again. But I'm not sure I actually accomplished anything. Then again, I really want to relax. How does one relax when they are only 'trying'? The only way to truly relax is to let go of the expectations on myself to achieve and complete projects. I just have to let go. It's a hard thing when one of the tasks on my to-do list is to write everyday. I put a plan together to write a new book. The pressure is on.

Makes me think about life. We push too hard, we just don't get anywhere. You set a huge list of tasks to do, you tend to not get them done, maybe not even one of them. I think I have to simplify my objectives. The more clutter, the less I accomplish. The irony is I also am trying to relax. I want to accomplish major things in the least amount of time, and I want to relax. I want to write a whole chapter for this book, quickly, then relax. I want to plan a few shows, a tour in a certain region of the U.S for this year, and relax. I want to organize the production of one of our new artists' albums in the studio, and relax. I want to update my website, but relax. My current conundrum. Do I really know what I want? Through all this thinking about what I want to do, or in fact need to do, I end up not achieving much. Nor am I relaxing.

So, learning how to relax is a bit of an art form. Even for myself it's a challenge. It's difficult for many of us creative types because our minds are so active. Also, the pressure is on as artists this day and age to be warriors, be in control of our business, to have a "go get 'em" mentality. We always have to be on the ball, alert, thinking outside the box, strategizing, running all the affairs of our business. But, we also have to allow time to relax. It might have to be planned. Fitting relaxation time into the schedule requires discipline. It's all about time management. There is in fact time for everything. I mentioned that in my last book. Time and balance. Balancing tasks so that they get done in a day. Factoring in down time. Most artists complain they don't have time to create. We waste a lot of time procrastinating, or watching TV. Switch it off and get on with the task.

For me, I'm switching off to relax. I think I'll run and swim in the mornings and stay as far away from the compute as possible. Then I'll focus two or three hours on work (I'll even time myself) and then do some writing late afternoon. In theory, it sounds perfect. Let's see what happens!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Levels to Nowhere

Some people around me, like managers, producers and team members, believe that they have the authority and know how to say they “want to take me to the next level” as an artist. But I want to challenge this. Whilst it’s flattering that they wish to do something of the sort, I ask them, “and what level might that be?” If I were to attach my notion of success to commercial success or any kind of token reward, then I might buy into the notion that I need to go up a level or two to reach that success.

  But I’m successful already. I define success on my own terms. I don’t believe in “levels”. I see our creative journey as simply that, a wonderful journey, and I don’t feel like I have to climb the steps to any pearly gates in order to be a better artist or be successful. So… in my opinion, there is no level to climb. It’s all one level.

  I find it bizarre that others think that their expertise and know-how is what is going to take me anywhere better than I already am. I can only say that understanding fully that I am a student of life, that I am always learning and I always am open to reaching my highest potential.

  However, no person is qualified to be our personal savior in this life nor has the ability to “make us” a star or “take” us anywhere we aren’t already supposed to be. This is universal law. Only you yourself can do that for you. This is your journey. Taking ownership of your success and creative freedom and being fully accountable and responsible for your own growth, is what is appropriate. Besides, anyone who is around you, whether it’s your manager, producer, mentor or office assistant, have their own objectives and motives in the co-creation process with you, and so they should! You wouldn’t want someone to be in your creative life just to help you. You would want them to seek their own potential in that too. This is “inter-dependence”, when two or more creative beings come together to a middle ground to create something beautiful and powerful.

  We are all equal in co-creation. In that, we are all assisting and supporting each other’s creative vision and to shine our best in ourselves. Instead of accepting that someone is there to “take you to the next level”, why not see your relationships as a glorious opportunity for everyone, not just you, to achieve their highest potential in that co-creation.

  Next time someone tries to push their ideas on you simply because they “want to take you to the next level”, ask them… “and what may I do for you my dear friend?”

  There are no levels. You are exactly where you need to be, right now.

The art of collaboration

My road travels have provided me an amazing opportunity to meet, connect and share with many artists of all forms and genres. It's through their gift to me that i have learned about collaboration. This is an important word, and some artists find it a hard word to grasp. Actually not just artists, people. We see it mis-used in politics, in large institutions, in business and amongst kindred souls/artists and the like. Heck siblings learn about it and find it tough. The opposite of collaboration, to me, is competition. We live and work in a competitive world. But the new paradigm is collaboration, building positive relationships, fostering good-will amongst each other, nurturing others' talents and applauding them when they "do good" rather than criticize or judge. Collaboration for artists can provide amazing opportunities from the very seeds of creation. In the songwriting process, a song can be even better working it out with a co-writer. In promoting yourself as an artist, team building and street teams, working with others for a common cause is the vehicle for success stories. We don't need to be doing this alone. There is strength in numbers. I find the artist-to-artist (p2p) networks have been such a positive vehicle for me and other artists to get our music out there, sharing gig nights, swapping gigs (you play in my city and i'll book you, and i'll play in yours and you book me), cross linking on each others' websites, cross promoting with flyers. The whole phenomenon of online discussion groups, meeting rooms and blogging have built collaboration to be the answer to building fan bases. Artists become fans of other artists, helping each other, chatting online, supporting, providing tips, opportunities, advice, road ideas, touring opportunities. It's all through collaborating. The new music business is an artist driven business, where collaboration dominates competition. Deals written and created for both parties' interests, where everyone can prosper. Artists have more to negotiate and barter now, having more to offer, developing themselves, seasoning themselves. These are important times. I hope artists also understand that building relationships is not just being "noticed" and "discovered" for their talents as musicians and songwriters, but because they can offer something to the labels, to the retailers, to the businesses they begin to do business with: Find out what You have to offer others first before you demand to know what they can do for you. Just because you're talented, doesn't mean you're worth doing business with. Collaboration means discovering what you can provide for someone else, too. We are asked in life: Why Am I here? Why Am i doing this? I encourage you to find a larger mission in life, beyond our own internal dreams and egos and desires - a bigger picture, a larger purpose. Whether it's global harmony, or changing perspectives, or doing good for others, or bringing a higher consciousness, our music, our art are powerful in creating amazing things, beyond our little goals. Once you tap into that higher purpose you will find many, many people will gather around you to support you in who you are and what you do. Enjoy this journey, it's life long you know... and you don't need to be on it alone.

Friday, January 06, 2006


"I realize that I am always free to let go and observe my life"  - Wayne Dyer
Freedom in the music business means the ability to be in control of your own career and at the same time not be in control of anything, and let the winds of heaven guide us in our destiny. Let's take a look at the first part of that phrase: being in control.... It's an amazing opportunity to have a sense of freedom with our artistry, without having to be dictated by companies that are guided by budgets, competition and the commercial machine. Independence from that means you can drive your own career, and be free to create whatever you want - from writing your songs, to producing unique music albums - different, alternative, out of the box - to performing with uniqueness and diversity.
Who says we need to be like the formula on radio? Embrace the fact that you can be different from all that. There are enough people in this country who will love your music without you having to be number 1 on radio which is part manipulated anyway. Many bands fall under the radar of so-called "commercial success" (radio play, mtv video rotation, street press, Grammy awards, etc) yet can have a lifelong, financially abundant career with a huge fan base. This can be done through being totally unique, different and out of the mainstream, by touring extensively, and knowing how to brand themselves on an independent level.
Being an independent artist means you can create what you want, and then allow the right people who love what you do, come to you. Rather than create packaged songs to an already saturated market which is commonly referred to as the "lowest common denominator". You have the opportunity to be different... to not just spew out the same ol' music that most of us are tired of hearing. We want something fresh, new, unique. The once loved, and now XM Satellite radio and itunes are true representations that people are ready to hear something new, even if that means going on that arduous search through the internet waves to find a little piece of unique "gold".
So who has the gold? You do. Artists have that divine gift called "imagination" that allows us to be totally different with what we create. So be different. There's an amazing sense of freedom in that. Freedom to discover new sounds, new packaging, new marketing ideas. From the beginning to the end, you have that freedom to do what you want, how you want, no strings attached.
Freedom is also about coming from a certain place of non attachment with our art. Having "no" control in the process can also be a very liberating thing, and avoids any deflated expectations. Sometimes we have to just "let go" and allow the process of our creations, and our destiny/careers/dreams, to unfold on it's own accord.
Let's take a look at the writing process for a moment. Writing songs, or creating anything, even a painting, is like tapping into a creative source that speaks to us. We can't force it, or we get blocked. We just have to be open to it. Once open, we can be very prolific. I'm always surprised that my best writing is when I just brainstorm and let the words flow. Sometimes I even "let go" of trying so hard (maybe even turn the TV on or something to take my mind off the pressure), and all of a sudden the song comes to life. How many songs have you written in the car, doing something completely different? The words can't stop coming at you can they?
In the studio, the art of production is about the freedom of allowing the song to tell us what it needs. We can't force it. We become the observer... allowing the pieces to come to life, as we merely conduct.
Being the observer doesn't mean we no longer care about the process. No, what it means is that we don't let our mind, our thoughts, our emotions or our worries get in the way. Let's take a look at career projections. I always talk about defining success on one's own terms, rather than the commercial model. I also remind myself and others that even though we can have all these big dreams, and create plans,.... it will never turn out the way we planned... and that's a great thing. We may project a certain future for ourselves, but ultimately, the universe, destiny, fate, whatever you want to call it, has other plans. These plans are part of the divine mystery of "why we are here" and as artists we can respect that because it's all about creativity in the end, and all about freedom. By not being so attached to certain outcomes, we will never be let down. Instead, we will be offered wonderful gifts, which is part of the magic of mystery. It is very freeing once we let go of future goals, and start living IN THE MOMENT. Tapping in to the journey, the day to day process, provides us with way more rewards and joy, than unrealized future dreams. Being an artist is a lifelong journey of discovery. It's about living in the NOW and enjoying the process of creating. It's about living with passion.
Have no expectations, define your life, your successes and your goals by your own terms, on a daily basis, be different, unique and take risks with your creativity. Have no fears. There is nothing to be afraid of, unless we trap ourselves with unrealistic expectations and unrequited objectives. Se yourself FREE to be the artist you want to be. Be open, be real, be you. 

Thursday, January 05, 2006

that little voice called fear

The voice of the fallen angel is so loud, sometimes we can't hear the other voice that is silent, the truth. Inside us we have a voice that never believes you are good enough, telling you why you don't deserve success, why you can't trust, why you are not perfect. That voice is lying, and the only power it has is the power you give it.
I tell you my story up till now based on a perspective I had about myself. It was written, as it was felt then, with that little voice inside me speaking. I believed in that voice that told me lies about myself. But it's only a story. The truth is, I have lived a perfect life.
The only suffering, or scarcity, or frustration I ever felt was due to me believing in that voice's story. To be honest, I have always had everything I needed, I have been loved and nurtured, I have had many opportnities and some most would never dream of having.
Much of my disgruntlement was based on fear. I was living a thirty year long childhood, and when I hit thirty I stood face to face with myself, I looked into the eyes of truth. It's all about perspective.
The truth sets us free.
This doesn't mean that all of you who are reading this have to wait till you're thirty to have this revelation. I hope not. If you can catch that little voice early, you can thwart any frustrations and hesitations you may encounter as an artist.
In retrospect, I should have stood behind my first album, "Girl in the Moon", and released it officially. I could have set up my record company back then and just put it out there. But I was afraid to do it on my own. I thought I needed a record company, or other people who knew better than me, to put it out to the world. So I didn't release it, and I didn't stand behind it. I apologized for it, made excuses as to why it wasn't good enough, and listened to TOO many people who judged it.
Seek no one else's approval but your own.
No fear

 No matter where we are, no matter what our circumstances are, or who we are surrounded by.. it's up to us to make the best of our situation... to put on that smile and to see the beauty of the glorious opportunities life brings to us.
 These opportunities come in ways we least expect, and may take us to destinations we never expected or thought possible, and yet will be wondrous and full of adventure if we can see the positive side of
 We all have trials and tribulations. We all have time constraints. We all have responsibilities. We can go through hardships such as financial, personal, career-wise, circumstantial. Yes, many things can thwart us, detour us, scare us, just freak us out. And sometimes what we may go through as a hardship, maybe someone else's unrealized dream. It's about realizing that what we have in our hands quite possibly could be the best thing that's ever happened to us.
 Live with No Fear
 Live in the moment and surrender to the amazing opportunities that the universe is busting to deliver us
 No matter where you are, let's manifest the positive, the joy
 Be passionate about what you do, because passion is everything
 Be ambitious and go for what you truly want
 Dream your dreams - because dreams can come true
 We are just at the beginning and there is so much for all of us.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Living in a Maverick Town.

Let's revise: 1. I believe in myself, 2. I enjoy the journey, and 3. I live with the theory of abundance.

I discovered the importance of the word "Journey" and not so much about the word "Destination" when I got out of my safe comfort zone and began to travel.

One day I got the gumption to get on a plane. In April 1996 I traveled from Sydney in search of the holy grail, and arrived in Los Angeles. Foreign, un-traversed soil. When I first arrived here I knew no one, except for my uncle, who knew no one in the music industry. I had about $300 to last me, well, at least six months. How idealistic I was. Idealism saved me though, because if I had even thought for a moment about the reality of my situation I would have been doomed. The first person I met, on that very first day I arrived, was a cute, tall, blond part Cherokee Indian heart throb called Jimmy Marcey. He was the first person who believed in me in L.A, and he began to duplicate my little demo, and tell me all the wonderful things that this town could offer. We drank lots of coffee really, and he was a great kisser. But I was on a mission. I searched for the epicenter of the music industry. For me it was on Sunset Boulevard, at the National Academy of Songwriters (NAS). I met other songwriters like myself, and brushed shoulders with Lionel Ritchie, Diane Warren, Joni Mitchell, Lieber and Stoller and artists I never even heard about but who were famous, all within the first month of being here.

I had put together a five song demo in Sydney that was produced by a motley of producers that all thought they could define a sound for me. I didn't think I knew enough to listen to my own opinion, so I always sought out other people's opinions as to what would be right for me as an artist. How could I know anything? I'm just a girl from the 'bush' (country girl).

My first attempt at securing my music career was so half hearted. After 3 months in L.A I then went to New York, with five songs, all different in style, with no common thread except for my vocal, which really wasn't showcased at it's best. But the music was so..... atrocious. I'm surprised they didn't throw me out by my ear. But I was determined though, and strong. Determination was my birth name. I had grown up on a rugged mountain, I could take on anything, right? Fortunately (whether it was my Aussie accent or my assertive voice, I don't know) I was able to meet with at least six top A&R execs between the East and West Coast, in person, within a day of calling them, simply by saying I had flown all the way from down-under to meet them. Who would not let you in? I met them, barely knew what an A&R rep did, showed them my lame CD of five songs (In 1996, a burnable CD cost $50 each alone so I asked them to give it back to me at the end of the meeting....) and waited eagerly in front of them their response while they listened. I figured, if I got off my butt and flew all this way, dressed right, had attitude, showed determination, then they could discover my undiscovered talent and, well, sign me as a developing artist. I was convinced that I was their next "big thing". Right? Surely yes?.... Wrong.

Each of those A&R execs were, in their pleasant way, able to swiftly cut me down to size. Perhaps they noticed the talent. Some expressed that. But the music was not right. Too eclectic, style too wishy washy, too cross over, too... well, just not what they were looking for. I was a diamond in the rough that they were just not willing to take on. Every single one of them asked me, "Gilli, what is it that you want?" I could not answer this question. I didn't know enough to give them the right response. I couldn't just say, "I want to be famous!" That wasn't true anyway. Well fame is nice. But I just wanted to be out there. How do you describe that intangible ambition in words without sounding embarrassing or egotistical? But the truth is, I didn't know what I really wanted then.

They were right about my music. As much as I had spent money on getting these songs produced, the problem was that none of those songs truly captured who I was... what I was about. I was on Madison Avenue in New York for gods sakes! I had to be perfect, right? To make this demo, I had allowed other anonymous producers (with all due respect, very talented in their own rights) to whip up my songs in a way that was not me. I never spent enough time allowing them to discover who I was, as an artist, and as a person. I didn't even know who I was! Remember, I was still in my thirty year childhood phase. I was twenty-seven. Not a baby. But I felt like a complete ignoramus.

Everyone was proud of my expedition though. I had done a whirl-wind business trip on $300 (that's Australian dollars) and met everyone in town, all in 3 months. The word "networking" was just getting trendy, and I was definitely into it. I even had an email address. I paid $60/month through Compuserve for a 9600 dial up connection! Not many people had email back then, in 1996. I had already begun to feel the power of the Internet, before the Internet had power.

I went back home to Sydney at the end of October 1996 with loads of business cards... but no business. What to do? Simply.... move back to Los Angeles, the Mecca of the music business, as I was told, and stay a while. Right? So 2 months of just having landed back in Oz, I was back on Hollywood's doorstep. Don't ask me how I organized that one! I worked my butt off in Sydney and packed everything up in the little cabin on my parents' property, and off I went again... determined.

This time, I had come back to L.A with knowing at least 5 people. Much safer, no? Early 1997, I began helping out an old family friend around the house, nannying her children, and earned my keep, down at her beach shack. I love to rollerblade, so it was a perfect spot down near the Venice Beach boardwalk. I found a lawyer, started work visa proceedings and went back to the NAS to volunteer and watch. I found a manager, Marci Kenon, the second person to believe in my talent in L.A. I met Marci at the NAS. Marci is a beautiful and savvy African American who organized showcases around town and felt I had a winner with my kind of cross-over pop/R&B songs. At the time, she was involved in pushing R&B to a culture I just wasn't the right color for. But if George Michael could do it, so could I. I remember being one of only two white girls in a full African American R&B/Hip Hop showcase for the NAS in Burbank. They clapped and cheered when I sang my song This Life We Live" to a backing track and I did a whole four minute dance routine while performing in my full white suit. A small artist owned record company, Drama! Music, were putting together their first trip-hop electronica album "Lust" and they saw my performance (I guess they saw the diamond in the rough as a positive thing) and invited me to sing their song "You Belong To Me" for their album. This song went on to be my first single, and my first claim to any notion of fame outside my homeland. It hit No.1 on a Belgian radio station and I thought all my Christmases had come at once. At least it looked good on paper. I wasn't sure how all that was supposed to translate to sales and an income. Income? What was that?

But it still wasn't something that I had created from my heart. I still was seeking other people's approval and advice.

Slowly, slowly I began to attract an audience who liked my music. I started performing downstairs at the old Luna Park, the Troubadour, The Gig on Pico and many cafes all became my local joints. The gigs were heating up and the venues were turning over, so too were my band members. It was hard to find players who could play for free or little money. And then, you were left with the 'green ones' who had enthusiasm but couldn't play for pits. But I was pretty fortunate. My musos became close friends, so we all got on famously, even when we parted. To this day I often bring some back for a paid studio session in thanks for that era. Some are still with me. All of a sudden a journalist called Bernard Baur, the third person in L.A to believe in me, wrote an awesome review in Music Connection on one of my Luna Park shows, and when I opened the paper and read the review I burst out crying. Soon after I was listed in Music Connection's top 100 Unsigned Artists. I cried again, mostly joy, but with pain too. All the stress of living in a foreign city, alone, being broke everyday with not even a bank account, living out of a suitcase on someone's floor or in someone's closet and trying to make a name for myself at the same time, had taken a huge emotional toll. As much as seeing my name in print was a great remedy, it wasn't the answer.

I had yet to record anything of merit, that I liked or that anyone else proclaimed to like. I tried working with a producer or two, but never felt anything that seemed to represent who I was. My little home recorded 4 track versions gave me more solace. I could hear the passion in my own cheap demos. Why wasn't it coming out in the big studio?

I feared that I would only deliver again the "average" I had delivered before. What's that saying?

"The fear of not being good enough to measure up to your ambitions."

That's it. That was what I had. I had a bad case of the jitters.

My money had run out.

How could I possibly get a record deal if the music I was making was crap? Let alone the very fact that I couldn't work here, so my financial stability was zero. so, with a sob and a shrug, I packed up, stored my tapes, my beat up old '82 Honda Accord that barely made it around the block, and other stuff at Marci's house, and flew home to Sydney. But before I left I submitted a lengthy package to the INS in hope of securing work papers for the future. If the industry here wasn't ready to believe in me maybe the government would and give me a head start. That was April 1997.

Sydney was.... Easter time. That means bunny rabbits, delicious Cadbury chocolate I had missed so much, and a plethora of things to do in what seemed like an outback town. No I mean it. Sydney was Los Angeles five years ago... no ten years ago. The final frontier. But all of a sudden I could see so much of what I could do back home. It was like a fire had been lit in my belly and I had all this amazing energy. I immediately fell back on to what I had been doing before, producing events (I paid my bills by being a Corporate Event Producer), and helped produce the huge Light Rail (tram) launch down in the inner city of Sydney, a few car launches and some award nights. That same moment, with pen to paper, I devised the creation of Songsalive!, which in a matter of months became an instigated non-profit organization supporting, nurturing and promoting Australian songwriters.

I was motivated to start Songsalive! when I was living in Sydney, Australia and I noticed how limited the opportunities were for original music to be played in venues. In 1997 Australia was still a "covers scene" with pubs and clubs primarily playing artists who would play standards and the latest hits. It was rare to find a place where you could get paid to play your own songs. Still is really. I also realized that being a songwriter can be lonely. It's a solitary experience: we write our songs mostly on our own and we go through our journey as artists mainly on our own, discovering the ways in which to get out there. I felt that if we had a "force", an umbrella to reach out to music organization and become a link in the chain for songwriters, then we could provide opportunity, exposure, support and promotion. Songwriters are the least considered in the music business. This is a known fact, but never really talked about. We get the short-end of the stick when it comes to writer deals, any exposure or recognition. Yet without the song, there is no music industry. I feel it's important to recognize the songwriter and provide them support. I put a group together in Sydney to discuss the idea of building Songsalive! as a non-profit organization and I received great support. I kicked it off with co-founder Roxanne Kiely and a group of 5 of us with showcases and workshops and we launched the small organization in Aug 97 with a huge 20 band celebration at the Sydney Hard Rock Cafe. It is interesting to say now, that since 1997 Songsalive! has gone on to become the largest songwriters organization in the world. We have over 17 chapters in Australia, the U.S and Canada. I've been pretty busy! If I died today I would be happy due to the life I brought to Songsalive! and the opportunities Songsalive! and it's network bring to writers, now worldwide. Besides, it's selfish to assume that the music industry, or any art industry, should be based on your own career alone. Art is about giving and providing for others.

So, back to '97. I jumped into the Sydney recording studios once again (what I had done pre-L.A, yet back then poorly) and in months I came up with a fourteen song "business card" called Girl in the Moon. Girl was essentially another calling card, and I didn't want to sell it as an album because even after spending months collating the masters and recording new songs, I just didn't think it was good enough. What was wrong with me??? What's that saying again? "The fear of not being good enough to measure up to your ambitions." I need to remind myself of that one as I write because it will be the focus of my conclusion later. So I made enough Girl CDs to travel and promote with, all packed in flat cardboard sleeves. The songs were a compilation of recordings I had done pre-L.A, some from my time in L.A, and a couple of newies I produced myself over at Velvet Studios, in downtown Sydney. I learned much during that time with some musician friends about reworking songs so they would be catchy, and getting a good feel and vibe in production. But I never treated this album as a real album. It was another mish mash of ideas again, very eclectic. Only last year did I finally decide that this was a real album, worthy to be sold. 9 years after making Girl in the Moon I am pleased to say that I am "re-releasing" it.

As much as it was nice to be back in Sydney, the challenge was still yet to come for me. With my renewed strength, fuelled by the very fact that I was able to achieve mighty things at home, I packed up once again and on the 1st January 1998 (New Year's in the plane!) my Songsalive! co-hort, Roxanne, and I both landed in L.A. I showed her around like a pig in mud and then in January we went to Midem, Cannes, the huge international music convention in France. It was an amazing experience, wandering the booths one after the other, hocking your music to every publisher, recording company and music organization there is. This was a civilized market bazaar. "Come here, buy this... only fifty dollar! Last forever!" I got my bug for music conferences at Midem. Since then I went back 3 times, and have pretty much attended most conferences in the U.S, even produced one for Songsalive! But more of that later.

I went back to Los Angeles after Midem, and a quick trip to London, empty handed, kissing Rox goodbye as she flew back to Sydney to handle the home fires with Songsalive! So. It's February 1998. Hollywood. I was once again living in a shoe box. This time, on a photographer friend's couch with even more suitcases (great headshots out of that time and boy he was a great kisser too!) I had somehow begun to accumulate suitcases, now stored across town in various garages and closets. Each time I came here I was hoarding stuff for some future "I live here" purpose but always lived like a transient. (Can you believe it, now nine years later and I have a house full of stuff, like I've been here all my life... how we are so attached to things!)

Anyway, back to February 98. I was a little unsettled coming back to L.A because I kind of didn't have a purpose, except that I felt I needed to be here and continue the journey. The rest of my story, my life and this book will focus a lot about the word "JOURNEY". Back at this time, however, I wasn't cognizant of the importance of this word. It was always about the DESTINATION, some future arrival of being.

I got back into gig mode really quickly in Los Angeles and was surprised that even though I had been away really for about 7 months, that the clubs still remembered me. I left the friend's couch and moved in to the slums of Beverly Hills, with a fellow muso room mate, Michael Sherwood, who's brother was in the band 'Yes' and who had adorable white cats with loads of fur, nicely covering everything I owned. I say the 'slum's' because it was the south side of Pico, heading toward the 10 freeway, so it's kind of on the edge. Also, I think the movie "Slums of Beverly Hills" must have been filmed in my street. It had the same 70s retro run down feel about it with the occasional BMW in the neighbor's driveway. I lived in a room that was about 10 feet by 10 feet, but at least I had my own bathroom. I didn't need much room. Just enough for a bed and my keyboard. I was making zero money, the INS denied my work visa and all I could do was hug my little keyboard every night hoping things would turn out all right. But in true Gilli fashion I managed to do a hundred things at once to keep moving forward and up.

I started Songsalive! in L.A. Why not? Seemed to be a good way to share with like-minded songwriters and I discovered that people began to knock on my doors instead of me constantly hoping a door would open elsewhere. I began by hosting songwriting workshops which started in my 10 x 10 room in the shared house and eventually we moved to the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. My gigs were heating up once again and reviews were even coming in from my Girl in the Moon album which even though was not for sale, was circulating on the Web. I began my online diary. I was one of the first to start an online diary. Now it's called a blog. But it means the same thing. I was totally into the Internet. I created my own webpage which was as long as something like this You won't find that exact page on the web but it was ridiculously long. Early 1998 and I I got the bug to surf the Net. I joined which was really the only official website where you could upload your songs to the internet. They even paid you for downloads back then for a short time. Then, when they attracted thousands upon thousands of artists, they realized they couldn't afford to pay for every single download, so the checks stopped coming. But the reviews kept on coming, and my website had lots of nice things to say about the music that didn't say much about me, but still I was happy.

I attended as many songwriter open mics and showcases as possible and began to know the little entrepreneurs who ran them, thus increasing my inner circle of songwriters within the Songsalive! umbrella. It was great finding kindred spirits. What was a complete shock to me was the NAS folded after twenty years, and I shed a tear in sadness for their past glories and also in happiness that I was able to be part of it, even if it was in their last phase. I had met some wonderful friends through the NAS including Marci, who was no longer managing me but we were good friends, Alan Roy Scott, who runs an awesome songwriting competition now called Unisong, Brett Perkins, who served as the NAS managing director in its last year and now runs the Listening Room Retreats, and John Braheny, the author of "The Craft and Business of Songwriting" and a must-have for anyone who is serious about their songwriting. I am friends with these people today. I am reminded that the music business is all about relationships, and even more so...great friendships.

At the time my lawyer thought it was a crying shame I didn't get a work visa for all the things I did, and the potential of who I could become, so he pitched for the visa again without a charging me more money (God bless his soul), and, wow, I was notified within a month that I was approved. All of a sudden, my vision opened up and I saw a bright U.S future. My destiny was secured. My dreams would come true. More importantly I could work.I could earn money. This made my struggle, well, struggless. So I started to do some office work, with an Australian ex-pat living in Northridge called Meredith Emmanuel, a brilliant public relations gal, the fourth person in L.A to believe in me. She became my new manager and we worked together in pitching me and then I would help pitch her films and projects. She had a lot of experience in the business having been married to and assisted Australia's renowned guitar virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel, and then she was Frank Zappa's assistant for many years. Plus a string of other amazing experiences. It was a lot of fun, and it was great to work with another Aussie who could understand my lingo. (Really let's face it, Americans and Australians speak different languages.)

I then worked for another video company and soon I was working for myself designing web sites and cd art, which I continue to do to this day on the side. Throughout 1998 I was running on fire. While I had not much money (living on roughly $200 a week), had no music for release, and hence did not contact one record company, (how could I, I didn't have anything to show to the,?) I was, however, writing songs like nobody's business. Summer in July and August was great and my '82 Honda was still working even though I had replaced practically everything on it. The dark days were temporarily gone, and I had no reason to go home. Besides, going home meant going back in time, and I wasn't about to go back there when I could see far, far ahead.

But then again, I had no reason to stay. Or did I?

The gigs around town were fun and I started putting together my press pack which included everything I had done in L.A. I didn't realize how thick it would get. I was amazed at what I had really achieved without looking. I had performed a lot. One night we did this really cool show downstairs at Luna Park to a packed audience with Matt Lattanzi (Olivia Newton John's ex) on didgeridoo. Loads of fun. We hit the news in Sydney. That's all I could think about... "I wonder if people back home know what I'm doing now!" Australia's media king, Molly Meldrum wrote a short piece and Who (People) Magazine caught the Luna Park gig with a photo. I was happy. I guess you could say that there was a buzz. And I had created it. MTV television contacted me to be part of a new contest, so I appeared on The Cut singing an R&B type ballad, with my long beaded braids. I had certainly developed an interesting look. I had been shopping at Ralphs for my groceries one day and asked one of the check out girls if she braided hair (she was a beautiful African American with long braids). She said "oh, of course, my sisters and I do it all the time!". So one day I drove down to Compton in what seemed like the scariest part of the universe with not one white person in the area. I looked so out of place, and I got so many stares and even some snarls. The helicopters were always hovering. But I found the house, quite quaint really with a neatly mowed lawn by it's inhabitants, and stepped into the warmest house I'd ever been in. Four sisters were waiting and ready, combs, hair extensions and elastic bands in hand. they spent six hours braiding my hair which, when complete, fell down to my waste. It was a lot of fun, and certainly one of those days where I learned to never judge a book by its cover.

As timing would have it, a record company came along, offering me a deal. It was September 1998. They were the independent label, tribe Records. Helming tribe was producer Marco Dydo, the fifth person in L.A to believe in me. They wanted to record one, non-exclusive, concept record with me and I jumped at it. All I had wanted was a record deal. My whole life. THIS WAS IT. Finally, someone legit had come along to create for me, provide me the holy grail, make me a star.

No matter what, I couldn't go home or visit home, without a record deal. That was the promise to myself. Getting a deal would solve everything, I thought. It had become a symbol of my determination and ambition.

All I could think about was recording my music. I had been a frustrated artist all my life, wanting so much to record my music right. I was eager to start recording the album with tribe. The first reality call came when I realized I wasn't on the top of the list for getting into the studio. Being signed means also realizing there is an artist roster, with other artists also in the line of production... and I had to wait my turn. I had to wait. Again. I moved to the dusty, desert town of Palmdale in February 99 where the studio was, and ended up living there for a year. Palmdale is about an hour north-east from L.A, up in the high desert. Everyone kept saying, "why are you moving up there? It's so far away!" Well, for me it was a lot closer to things than Sydney was. I had a different perspective I guess.

By May 99 we had put some players together for a new band called Jessica Christ, and we started quietly in the coffee houses in the Valley to get us ready again for Hollywood. I worked hard developing the new band, and working with Marco on the Jessica Christ image and concept. I brought some of my old players, and tribe brought some new ones in to create a dynamic live band. I involved my dear friend Libby Lavella, another talented Aussie singer (and sixth person in L.A to believe in me), to sing up front with me. It was exciting to play a part, even though not my own, and to bring Marco's beloved project to life. Meanwhile, I had still not been able to get into the studio to record my record but I agreed to be part of the Jessica Christ album which featured various songs and artists. It was a true tribe project and I was delighted to be involved.

Recording what was to be the quintessential solo record for me, took a back seat while the Jessica Christ band came to life. All of a sudden I realized that my dream of being "signed' was an illusion. Not that it wasn't a bad experience. It was quite creative. But it wasn't my experience. Also, I was still waiting for someone else to make it happen for me. I was supposed to let the record company make all the decisions for me, wasn't I?

Living and working in Palmdale was an interesting experience, sometimes fulfilling, but mostly emotionally draining. I was still creatively frustrated. I had been this way before signing to the deal, and I was still, during the contract, very frustrated as I had yet to really put my music, my creativity, out to the world. I was also living alone in a lonely small town. All my life I had felt like I had to be patient, that one day "my turn would come." I had yet to realize my own potential as an artist, and as much as I had believers in me, I never really got to do it the way I wanted to do it. I was always waiting. I felt terribly frustrated, and very alone. It's no one's fault. I place no blame. As stated before, I had been living in a childhood dream for thirty years. Most of my perfect world was in my own imagination. I still had no money (flat broke), lived in scarcity, did not enjoy the moment at all (was dreaming of some future hope of joy, fame and fortune), and I did not believe in myself. I had a very poor concept about myself by now. My esteem was at the lowest it had ever been my whole life.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, my childhood dreaming ended at the turn of the century. I have to say that by the end of 1999, thirty years old, I came to a dead stop. This is where my old life ended and my new life began, through what you might call a major shift in consciousness.

In November 99, I went home to Sydney upset, drained, tired and wondering if my dreams of a record deal, of living and working in America, was all worth it. I had worked hard this far, and conquered many hurdles, to find that I still hadn't achieved this undetermined goal to success. But my internal self-doubt discussions were discarded when I had a much bigger issue to deal with. I discovered through a routine check up (the day before I was supposed to go back to L.A) that I was ill and had to go into to hospital for emergency surgery on my right ovary, which had developed a dermoid cyst the size of a football. They say Cysts are symbols of creative frustration, and of anger. I mulled over that for ages. I had to cancel my flight. I didn't even know it was there! How could I have overlooked a football in my abdomen? My doctor could not tell me if it was cancerous until they operated.

I had to wait ten days until the operation. Ten days is a long time when you don't know if you are terminally ill or just a quick fix with the knife. I had what you would call a "spiritual awakening." I discovered my mortality and realized that nothing was more important than my health and my family.

My mind played games with me. Imagine, right there on the operating table, dying with my intestines on the metal table, looking up to the heavens without an album released. "Oh, God, why so sudden? I haven't even fulfilled my record contract?"

It was only after the operation that my doctor (the best bloody surgeon in the world) told me it wasn't cancerous, but if it had been, having opened me up, that would have been the end of me. He asked me if I wanted to see the tumor. I said, "um, no thanks. I'd rather not be reminded of my past." In that moment, I let go of the past, of my frustrations, of any lost ideal, and began a new life.

I made a full recovery, and I still have an ovary. I was very lucky. While in hospital, flat on my back for 10 days, and then recuperating on my parents farm for four weeks, I had what you would call a "spiritual awakening." I discovered my mortality and realized that nothing was more important than my health and my family. It was really good to be home. I asked myself those empirical questions like "what is my purpose?", "how long will I do this until I feel my dreams are fulfilled?", "what is my dream?", "is my goal intangible, too unrealistic?", "am I happy?" and so forth. Many people on this planet have had these awakenings and often over a life and death situation.

I read "Conversations with God" Books 1, 2 and 3, by Neale Donald Walshe, I re-read the "Celestine Prophecy", a few other books that empowered my spirit, and then I wrote my first book, "I AM A Professional Artist", up in my little cabin on the hill. I cannot tell you what a glorious month December 1999 was. It was magic. All my motivational writings, my new warrior visions, my new dreams were all born on top of the mountain in this month, lying in bed barely walking and breathing, but so, so much alive.

My career was momentarily put on hold while I regained my strength and learned to love myself again. You see, what I had realized was that not only had I been physically sick, but emotionally as well. I had placed myself under immense strain in order to take on the record deal experience, and, overall, the Los Angeles experience. All these years of pushing, proving myself, convincing others to believe in me, and doing this alone, all had played a toll on my health. When I returned to L.A, late December 99, I knew that I could not live in Palmdale or be involved in someone else's dream anymore. I had come to learn, while sick, about what was meaningful to me by being here, and what was not. It was either going to follow my dream or go home. So by January 2000 I had moved to Sherman Oaks, in the Valley.

I was starting all over again. I sat in my new apartment, with boxes around me, with no money, no plan, no idea on how to achieve anything. But... I was onto something.

1. I believed in myself, 2. I I knew that all there was to know was the current moment, this journey, and 3. I felt abundant.

I realized for the first time that I know longer needed approval by anyone except myself. I didn't need a record producer. I didn't need a manager. I didn't need a record company and some A&R exec telling me what would be good for me. I didn't even need a boyfriend. I just needed myself. I needed to really listen to myself. Listen to my heart.

Early 2000 I began recording my first officially released album, 'temperamental angel', with my friend, Evan Beigel at his North Hollywood studio, Seasound. I registered my business, Warrior Girl Music, with the local newspaper and set up a bank account. Nothing was in the bank account, but I opened up the vessel for the money to come. I designed my own website and just started GETTING OUT THERE on my own, truly for the first time, ever.

Ten months after my hospital experience I wrote this on my online blog (Aug 2000). "Having gone through my huge personal growth in the past ten months since my hospital experience, I have discovered the truth behind my mission. My journey here is not about catching the industry's attention to become a star or to be famous. A 'record deal' will not fill the voids. I'm here because, firstly, I have had to learn about myself and who I really wanted to become. I am an artist. And I am an expressionist. I have nothing to prove except to create and to share with you my messages, my emotions and my heart-felt creations through my expression of music, writing and performing. I am here, secondly, because L.A allows me to create in peace. But this is not forever. This place, like its people, is transient. We should flow with it like the water. I hope to base myself also at home for my family, who are the strongest believers in me, and who, knowing I am the baby survivor, miss me very much. We should never lose touch of who we really are and who loves us the most. In looking back at these years in L.A, and even recollecting my years in Sydney before that, I have seen a wealthy past of experiences and of journeys. My destination is to create better more enriching vehicles to express myself to you in hope that it enriches your lives. I am much calmer these days. Not so much in a rush. Still determined. Still strong, I am a warrior girl, yet a spiritual warrior and a silent warrior working diligently, with determination, on my quest. I am finally recording my music. I have waited so long to do this. And it was me, really, who put the road blocks up. I gave myself so many distractions and gave away the power to others to make the decisions for me. I thank each and everyone who has inspired and influenced my creative growth. They will always remain special in my heart. Now, I am truly growing, because I am bringing my art alive. I am over the fear. For the fear of death is far worse than the fear of not being able to measure up to ambitions. And the fear of being alone is scarier than aloneness itself. For being alone is important, where we find our true selves. For the first time ever I have tapped into who I am musically and artistically. I have found my sound, and I have found it alone. I am working consciously, almost methodically in the creation of my music, music that's mine, and a vision that's mine. You might like it. You may think it sucks. I don't care. What will be, will be."

Since then, I have released 3 more albums, a remix album of the 'temperamental angel' album, Woman (2003) and extraOrdinary life (2005). I've produced ten albums for other artists, won many awards, toured the world three times, received mountains of reviews garnering high praise from the most jaded of critics, and worked with legends in the business. But none of my accolades thrill me. When once upon a time I yearned for recognition, for some notion of fame, for people to believe in me, for me to prove to people my worth, I now seek none of that. What excites me is what I do on a daily basis - my journey. The process of living my dream. I am in love with my life, my career and my creativity.

I began my career looking for someone else, "them, they, the others" to come along and make it happen for me. Most young artists live in this illusion. I thought "ok, I have talent, they will come." The reality is, we can't wait around for others to make it happen for us. I was a frustrated, unhappy person because I could not follow my true creative path and what my soul was telling me to be and do. It was only when I let go of my thirty year childhood, and took responsibility of my life and dreams, trusting my own musical instincts and my own heart, that it has proven to be the right choice. The only choice.

Enjoy the journey.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Once upon a time I used to dream a lot

I believe that I am the master of my own destiny. I am imaginative and creative and I don't take 'no' for an answer. I believe I can be anything I want to be and thank God I didn't ask for the moon, I just changed my name to suit it. For three decades I have lived and breathed music, performing, dance, art and writing, and with some exciting adventures in far off lands and even near at home, I managed to land on some amazing stages, playing the parts I have always wanted to play. I guess I have been living my dream. It's a nice feeling to be able to say that. Not many can say they "live their dream." But I am. It has got a lot do with three notions. 1. I believe in myself, 2. I enjoy the journey, and 3. I live with the theory of abundance. This past January I spent some time at my parents' property in Australia where I spent most of my childhood. I remember that most of my childhood was spent dreaming. Dreaming that one day I would be able to do whatever I wanted to do in life, achieve many goals and aspire to some kind of greatness. My childhood dreaming lasted till I was thirty years old. I don't think I truly began to realize my dreams until then. One of the reasons is because I spent most of my objectives on some future destination, rather than living in the moment and taking hold of the opportunities that were around me. I was always thinking ahead, never satisfied with the present, or with who or what was in my hands in that time. I have always been ambitious, and my notions of success were based on other people's ideas of what that meant, for example a number one radio hit, or a best selling CD or being famous on television. I equated success to such things, and therefore felt that I was not successful because I didn't have those things yet. Being confident that I am, I never questioned that it wouldn't come in some time. I just wasn't truly appreciating who I was or what I had done, in the current moment. I also lived in a state of scarcity, that I didn't have enough to do and be who I wanted to be. So I felt like I constantly lived in a stalemate. I also didn't believe in myself. I thought I did, but now I realize that I really didn't. I was always in awe of others who had done well with their careers, and I kept on dreaming that my time would come one day in the future. On this recent trip to Australia I became fully aware that my thirty year childhood was like this. When I hit thirty I had a massive wake up call which allowed me to begin to fully realize my dreams in a fabulous way, and have continued to do that till today. More on that later. For now, let me be a little nostalgic and invite you into my childhood, the way I reflected on it recently on my trip down-under. I stayed with Mum and Dad this past Aussie summer in the main house which is gracefully situated on top of a rugged mountain overlooking acres and acres of forest. But when I lived in Australia I lived for a time in a cabin they built up behind the main house. I decided to go visit it. The old cabin on top of the hill was unlocked. I gently wrestled with the latch, slightly rusted up, to open the door. It finally gave. I had forgotten how small the place was. It was almost empty. No one had lived in it for some time. But it seemed clean. Still furnished with minimal furniture, I walked past the desk, the open planned kitchen, past the wood burning pot belly fireplace, down into the second level bedroom area. It overlooked a magnificent view of the rugged bush.

My abstract painting of the ocean was still on the wall. I loved that painting, filled with deep blues and flowing of lines. It’s a melancholy painting, with much emotion. My kitchen pots, plates and cups were still on the wooden shelves. My presence was still here, barely. But I felt my past here strongly. It brought tears to my eyes. I became emotional. This simple, rustic, small cabin represented a deep part of my past. A decade or more from my teens to my mid twenties of struggle, frustration, unrealized desires. I remember living in this cabin with everything that I owned, up here on the mountain, deep in the forest, far from civilization, with a dream for a glamorous life that I yearned for so much, away from here.

I can’t imagine any other person having experienced their thirty year long childhood like I did. Rather unique really. At this moment, looking around the little cabin, I soaked in the good and the bad. Right now I felt the isolation, the ruggedness of how it was living in this place, on this mountain. The Aussie bush is not beautiful per se. Majestic to a certain extent. But it represents a harshness and only the strong survive out here. No modern conveniences, microwave ovens, hair dryers or dish washers. Water is hard to come by. Life is lived a day at a time, thinking about food, shelter, warmth.

I realized now that I had some repressed feelings about my youth. It wasn’t an easy upbringing, out here in the bush. We did it hard. We came here from the city, when I was fourteen, to nothing but an old dam and unruly terrain. We built the main house out of second hand off-cuts, wood from the forest and rocks. We lived on solar power and caught water in rain water tanks. We never had a new car or new clothes, always second hand. I caught a school bus every day that took half an hour to drive to the bus stop and another hour to get to school. It was a long day for me, every day, which started at 6.30am and I arrived home at 6pm. Homework done only by candle light and 12 volt low lights. The food was attractive to field mice, and if they didn’t get it, mold did, quick.

No wonder I lived my life in scarcity.

I had for some time escaped and travelled when I hit eighteen. Moved to Sydney, then somehow seen a bit of Europe. Even gained a 4 year college degree. But I kept coming back to the property. It’s when I was about 24 that I actually moved “back home” and into this little cabin Mum and Dad had built somewhere along the line. They were always building something.

In this cabin I began to dream big. This is where I’d write songs and record them on my four track till 3 in the morning, singing loud because no one could hear me for miles. This is where I painting some of my best paintings. This is where I planned my music career, where I wrote the concept for Songsalive!, the songwriters organization that has crossed 4 continents now. This is where I wrote my first book, even, when I turned 30 (that magic number). I have always kept coming back to this cabin. I’m here now too. There is something about this ol’ cabin that meant everything to my soul. I created who I am in this cabin. I’ve since gone on and achieved so many dreams, traveled the earth, become somewhat stable and.... abundant.

I didn’t feel so abundant ten years ago.

I remember nights and nights of being alone in this place, in the harsh of winter, without a light and no inside bathroom. I’d grab a bucket for my night loo and toss it on my roses in the morning. I didn’t want to go outside in the dead of night, up here on the hill, alone. I would huddle under the covers and imagine there weren’t any spiders or ants. I would always feel a grub or two under my sheets at night. I’d try and read under the candle light but the moths would be fluttering around competing with me for the light. But I still read lots of books. All the Agatha Christie books and any espionage book I could find. My clothes tried to stay fresh in the old cupboards but there was always a woody smell to my clothes. Things got dusty quickly. I never wore white. I didn’t have an iron. I spent a lot of time on my own. I was an only child.

I stood in the middle of the cabin feeling my past. My eyes got teary again, feeling the anguish, yet also the beauty of my past here. I remember being naive, yet ambitious. I remember how simple the life was. It was all about making sure there was enough water, or firewood for the night. I remember feeling like “one day” everything will be alright and I’ll have opportunities. I remember only living for the future. I remember being imaginative and creative, and thinking big, and having large ideals. I remember feeling like I could do anything I wanted in my life, tomorrow.

I always had a car that broke down on the highway. I could never afford a good car. One time, my 1972 Ford Escort caught fire from a leaky petrol lead on the road. It burned down. The melted steering wheel is hanging on the outside of the cabin, a sculpture reminding me of what I have overcome.

I breathed deep, and wiped away my tears. I am not who I was then. Nor would I possibly want to go back to that time and place. I knew that a lot of me was still in this room, when I was struggling to break free.

I feel like I am a late bloomer. While other twenty year olds were out clubbing, I was up here dreaming of large stages and dancing like I was a teenager, in the middle of the night, to myself. It took so long for me to leave this mountain and grow up. Coming back is like a culture shock, but then... it’s like I never left. I’ve taken the country girl, the survivor, out into the world. I’ve used my tenacity and strength to climb any hurdle. If you can survive the bush, you can survive anywhere.

I felt strong, standing in this room I once called home. I felt connected with the old green carpet and the spider webs in the corners of the wooden poles. Every inch of me was part of this place, even if I wasn’t living in it anymore.

I noticed the plants were thriving outside the kitchen window sill. I noticed that the white ants hadn’t gotten into the wood in the walls. This place was still strong and livable. It had survived. It was alive.

I knew then that time stood still. There was no time, past, present, future. I am who I am at 16, 26 and 36. I embody the same will and strength now that I had back then. I am my parents’ daughter. I am part of this place, no matter where I roam.

I took one last look at my painting on the wall, hanging there against the empty weatherboards like it was hung in a private lost art gallery. I walked out of the cabin, and closed the door on my past. I removed some weeds from around my rose bush, and headed down the hill, into my future.

So, here I am writing this new book. It's exciting to write again. It's exciting to get what's in my head, out there.