Rising Music Star Gilli Moon on The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Music Industry

Define success on your own terms. Don’t just take what other people think you should do to be successful or make intangible industry norms limit you.

I think it’s really important to create definitions of success that you can reach or control, without the need of others or things. For example, so many musicians define their success around mainstream factors like winning a Grammy, or getting a number 1 hit on the radio. But what if they don’t get that? Have they failed? No way. Success to me is about personal wins, like seeking excellence in everything I do; being happy in the pursuit of my art; or creating content on a regular basis.

As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Gilli (pronounced as with a “J”) Moon is an Australian, Hollywood-based, singer/songwriter who has a passion for emotional songs, evoking connection, self-introspection, and personal empowerment. One of the first known “Indie Artists” of the millennium, she has pioneered a successful independent music career, with her own record label as well as a champion for thousands of independent artists who follow in her footsteps. She has a string of songwriting awards, cuts, and credits to her 25-year career span. She has worked with other highly respected prominent artists including Placido Domingo, will.i.am, Erykah Badu, Rickie Lee Jones, Simple Minds, and more.

Her widely distributed creative work, as a singer, songwriter, music producer, and visual artist, has garnered the highest praise from thoughtful critics across the globe.

Listen to beautiful mess at your favorite e-tailer or streaming service.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in a really remote part of Australia, but close enough to Sydney (about 2 hours). On top of a mountain top, my parents built their house out of the wood and stones from the forest that surrounded us. As a teenager, I really got to understand how to be resourceful, living a country life. It spawned my imagination and creativity.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always known, since I can remember, that I would be an artist. I have always loved all forms of creativity, from acting, singing, dancing, songwriting and visual arts, painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, film making — you name it I’ve loved it. But it wasn’t until I lived in New York in my early 20s that I really fell in love with music and songwriting. I never looked back.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Gosh I have so many interesting stories. I guess one I could mention is that I happened to fall into an opportunity to tour with Eric Idle from Monty Python for 3 months across the US and Canada, and that was ‘interesting’ to say the least. Not only was I a featured performer but I also was his tour manager and so I would switch headsets from microphone and singing to ‘cue the lighting’. LOL.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh my goddness, I have a great one for this. I was launching and promoting my second album, Woman, in Phoenix Arizona, where a single was being played at a local nightclub. The DJ then invited me on stage at the top of playing the song, and I walked out and totally tripped on the dance floor — the first thing people saw of me. I felt so embarrassed inside. I thought that everyone would hate me. I thought they would think bad things about me and my music. But I stood up and shook it off, and people just danced to the song and forgot it even happened. In fact they loved the song so much they gave me a standing ovation. I realized from that experience, that no matter what you think people think of you, it’s never what they really think of you, so don’t make any assumptions and don’t take anything personally. Just stand tall, with pride, shrug off your insecurities and keep going! I follow this motto every day in my life.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am launching my new album, beautiful mess, on January 21. It’s actually a double album, released over the course of a month, with 12 songs aside. I’m really excited by it as it’s the first studio album in 10 years, as I spent the majority of that time raising my little twins, (now 7), wrote 2 books, and diving into other creative projects such as hosting, coaching and licensing songs for film and TV. For me it’s interesting to release music right now, as we are going through an unprecedented time with the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic, and are all sheltering in place at home. This means I’m launching this virtually worldwide and have to think creatively on how I can perform to audiences from my home. It’s exciting and challenging at the same time. That’s why ‘beautiful mess’ is such a perfect juxtaposition.

This album speaks to the heart and soul of all self-empowered women, and men who love women, who see their lives and careers mixed with parenthood as messy yet amazing, in all of its beautiful ways. Having twin babies is quite a challenge, and some of the songs will share not only the emotions of being a new mother, but also the struggle of actually conceiving. beautiful mess shares all my emotions, good, bad, sad, happy, beautiful and messy, all on display, and all at once.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

I not only feel we should represent diversity in hiring for entertainment, but the content we create must reflect that, so we can make a difference in the future of our people’s lives. When I sing my songs, or create visual media, I think about self-empowerment, and how everyone can thrive and be successful. We can only be successful if the mechansisms around us help us to be.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

When I first started in the music business, I knew absolutely nothing. I had to discover it all on my own. If I knew then what I know now, I would follow these mantras:

1. Don’t seek anyone else’s approval but you’re own. Listen to your own instincts and if you are happy with it, go with it.

When I first started as a singer-songwriter I was naive and gullible. It goes with the territory of being young. I also was from another country so it was like being a “deer in the headlights”. I remember this one A&R executive telling me, after listening to my whole set at a gig, and having poured my heart out on stage, that he couldn’t see a ‘hit’ in my songs. I was heartbroken. But then I contemplated it for a few weeks and realized that this was just one person’s opinion. I must have been 10 years older than this young punk, and I remember thinking to myself, “why am I getting all upset about his opinion of my music, when I know exactly who I am and what I want”. From that day forth I never let anyone else tell me if I was good or bad. I might be hard on myself, but I won’t let someone else be hard on me.

2. Define success on your own terms. Don’t just take what other people think you should do to be successful or make intangible industry norms limit you.

I think it’s really important to create definitions of success that you can reach or control, without the need of others or things. For example, so many musicians define their success around mainstream factors like winning a Grammy, or getting a number 1 hit on the radio. But what if they don’t get that? Have they failed? No way. Success to me is about personal wins, like seeking excellence in everything I do; being happy in the pursuit of my art; or creating content on a regular basis.

3. Be more brave.

I spent years waiting for someone, or something to happen for me to try new things. I thought it was the proper thing to do to find a music producer who was well-known and charged a lot of money, only to find that when they came a long, they never really made a difference in my music. In fact they didn’t ‘get’ me. There was no soul in the music and they just wanted to change me. It wasn’t until I decided to produce my own music, that I found my voice and sound. It was the best decision I ever made. Courage is our friend. Fear is our enemy.

4. In 15 years there won’t be any CDs nor mp3 downloads, so don’t buy all those now! LOL. I don’t have a story behind that! Just had to say it.

5. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.

I’ve noticed that the best opportunities have come when I’ve teamed up with others. And you never know who you meet. 20 years ago I met a young songwriter that asked to write with me and I declined because I was too wrapped up in my own music to want to spend time writing with someone else. Only to discover years later, he became really well known. If only we did that song! In other examples in my life, I have to admit I have been really strong at collaborating with others. I find strength in numbers. I’ve successfully toured the country several times by teaming up with other female singer-songwriters to put on shows together, where we’ve all brought our fans to the show and everyone has built a larger cross-over following because of it.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Artistry is a life-long journey. When you first start out, you think that time is running out and you have to rush to make everything happen. Part of this is due to the industry perception that you have to ‘make it’ when you’re young. But I really think that age doesn’t matter. You just have to know who you are and what you really want. So I think it’s key to recognize that, and pace your activities. I even recommend creating a calendar for the week so you can compartmentalize hours for creativity, versus hours for business, versus just personal ‘me’ time.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I just kicked off a movement: BeYOUtiful Movement. This is about being your authentic self. To love yourself and honor who you are. To be self-empowered and believe in yourself. Check it out at http://beyoutifulmovement.com/

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have to admit that my parents are what made me. They were really supportive of my pursuit of artistry, so much so that they have had to be patient while I live overseas now for 20 years. That’s a tough pill to swallow when you’re the only child. I remember when I was 4 years old, they got me a piano and lessons. By 6 I was doing dance lessons and singing. They really have nurtured my talent and the arts in general. We need more parents like that…

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

‘Don’t Take Anything Personally’ — this is from The 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and speaks to an important message that anything someone might say negatively about you is just their ‘stuff’. It doesn’t mean it’s true, and it’s only based on their circumstances and perception of the world. So don’t get caught up when others criticize you.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

If I could pick one person to meet and have a nice eggs and mimosa with, I would love to chat with Oprah Winfrey. She is the epitome of an EntreprenHER, a creative, female entrepreneur who has done so much, from acting to writing, to running her TV empire. She’s also just a gifted empath who seeks the best in individuals.

How can our readers follow you online?

My website is www.gillimoon.com.

My instagram and twitter is @gillimoon.

Facebook @gillimoonmusic.

My entrepreneurial coaching website is www.warriorgirlcreative.com

my artist coaching academy is at www.thecreativewarrioracademy.com.

If you’re a songwriter, find out more about the non-profit 501c)3) organization I founded 20 years ago for songwriters and composers called Songsalive! at www.songsalive.org. @songsalive

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

About The Interviewer: Growing up in Canada, Edward Sylvan was an unlikely candidate to make a mark on the high-powered film industry based in Hollywood. But as CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc, (SEGI) Sylvan is among a select group of less than ten Black executives who have founded, own and control a publicly traded company. Now, deeply involved in the movie business, he is providing opportunities for people of color.

In 2020, he was appointed president of the Monaco International Film Festival, and was encouraged to take the festival in a new digital direction.

Raised in Toronto, he attended York University where he studied Economics and Political Science, then went to work in finance on Bay Street, (the city’s equivalent of Wall Street). After years of handling equities trading, film tax credits, options trading and mergers and acquisitions for the film, mining and technology industries, in 2008 he decided to reorient his career fully towards the entertainment business.

With the aim of helping Los Angeles filmmakers of color who were struggling to understand how to raise capital, Sylvan wanted to provide them with ways to finance their creative endeavors.

At Sycamore Entertainment he specializes in print and advertising financing, marketing, acquisition and worldwide distribution of quality feature-length motion pictures, and is concerned with acquiring, producing and promoting films about equality, diversity and other thought provoking subject matter which will also include nonviolent storytelling.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Edward Sylvan, CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group

Written by

Specializing in acquiring, producing and distributing films about equality, diversity and other thought provoking subjects

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store