By BRUCE DENNILL
“Influence” is a loaded, often misunderstood concept. An artist may sound similar to another but have no knowledge of them, or be a super-fan of someone whose output is completely different to their own. Who or what was the artist, album, song, era or scene that initially mapped out the road to you becoming a musician?
At the age of six, I fell in love with Olivia Newton John. She was our Australian idol. Growing up in Sydney, Grease, and then Xanadu, and everything about her Physical album, made me want to sing and dance. But of course, that’s a childhood dream. Funnily enough, I get compared to her a lot. As a grown woman, the artist that really made me feel like I could emotionally, uninhibitedly and musically express myself was Alanis Morrisette on Jagged Little Pill. That album allowed me to think outside the box and push the envelope in terms of my music sound, voice and expression. She was the late Nineties female artist that broke the male-dominated radio model and questioned the norms of music production. It paved the way for my album release Temperamental Angel, which had raw, in-the-garage style production, and was authentic.
Has that changed over the years? If so, how and why, and what are you currently exploring?
I have grown from the child-like wonder of Olivia and the fascination with Alanis in my twenties. Not only have my music tastes changed, but I like to adhere to pop culture. I really am fascinated with pop and EDM, and the new music production stylings of simplified, repetitive beats and melodies. Consider Justin Beiber, Selena Gomez, Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding and Marshmello as examples. I really dig those pop beats actually.
Name one song you wish you’d written or one you’d like to be known as the definitive interpreter of. What makes that song so important?
I would have liked to have been the one to release Chandelier by Sia. Damn my fellow Australians, they are talented!
In production and arrangement terms, what are facets of your music and the music you love most by others that you feel are crucially important in terms of creating the mood you’re after or supporting the message of your song?
I want people to get into the lyrics and emotions. If a song doesn’t have an emotional point of view, then it’s bland. I like to push the envelope on emotional expression, so that dictates the production. If it’s best with a vocally soaring, gut-wrenching, piano ballad, so be it. If it needs a pulse to move to the passionate beat, then I do that, and maybe all electronic and pop/EDM to boot. Or if I want to sprout energy, anger or a hard-hitting message, I may need to get the band into the studio and rock those drums, guitars and basslines.
How important are visuals in terms of the music you release? Detailed album sleeves and beautiful gig posters aren’t as much a part of the industry as they used to be, but what a listener sees – from a music video to some artwork on a streaming platform, might draw their attention to a song, or help them remember it.
Everything about who I am is music and art. I blend the two together as part of my brand and concept. So, as also a visual artist, visuals and art must integrate to my songwriting and music album or single launches. But they go hand-in-hand. I really loved CDs because I could explore the album cover artistry for each album. I usually painted the cover, and imported into my Photoshop and created my own covers and trifolds. Accompanying that, I focus on my website as the portal to my expression, so that means the visuals are just as important. These days, I focus on the website, social media posts, posters for my fans, and other things like T-shirts. I have a bunch of cool art on my website gillimoon.com expressing my latest album, Beautiful Mess.
What’s your favourite piece of gear?
What is the story behind Beautiful Mess – the genesis of the songs, the people involved, the muses behind its creation?
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. I’m a mom, an artist, a coach, an author, a wife, an adventurer: I am all of it. And having twin babies is quite a challenge, and some of the songs share not only the emotions of being a new mother, but also the struggle of actually conceiving. I also went through a journey also with my entrepreneurial pursuits and the music business in the last 10 years – with all its flaws. Beautiful Mess shares all my emotions – good, bad, sad, happy, beautiful and messy – all on display, and all at once. I throw my songs at you like I paint on a canvas. It’s also an outcome of the pandemic that has engulfed our lives since early 2020, and with all the mess of that, I try and see the beauty, the silver linings in between. The fact that I was able to be at home with my children last year, and create, focus on expressing, that’s something. The fact that something like this forces us to love each other more, and take care of each other, that’s another. I want people to feel the emotions I feel in this album, and be inspired to love who they are, and everything about themselves: the beautiful mess. I wrote, performed, produced a double album – 24 songs in total – as an aural binge-listening experience. I have a few co-producers and featured artists here and there, plus four covers done my way. It’s all been produced over a series of years, some live in studio, some virtually with different studios, flying files back and forth. It was a lot of fun, but I took my time. I needed to be ready to release it. I wanted to be sure I had something to say. And now I do. Be you. Live and own your beautiful mess.