In Focus: Elli Cleary, Recipient Of The First Moshtix And Music SA Female Music Business Scholarship
In the lead-up to this week's Indie-Con and AIR Awards in Adelaide, moshtix owner Harley Evans caught up with Elli Cleary, recipient of the first moshtix and Music SA Female Music Business Scholarship to see how her studies are coming along, get her thoughts on diversity in the Australian music industry, and discuss her new single.
Announced by Music SA in April 2017 and fully funded by moshtix, the scholarship aims to address the issues of barriers for women trying to forge a career in the music industry, and gave one woman the chance to gain a nationally accredited Certificate IV in Music Business at Music SA.
Chosen as the recipient of the scholarship in December 2017, Elli Cleary spoke this week with Evans about some of the barriers facing women at this point in time, including "lack of representation and self-confidence." She continued, "I think as a female, when you're constantly exposed to predominantly males playing in bands, presenting on the radio, speaking on panels, running labels, managing artists, engineering sound at gigs or in the studio (to name a few), it's harder to envision yourself in these roles - and then if you do, it can be daunting to challenge the status quo!"
Elli Cleary has a demonstrated passion for music and equality. Currently halfway through her certificate, Cleary said of her studies: "[A] great part is the volunteer and work experience opportunities that I've been exposed to. I've been able to mentor at songwriting programs as well as assist at industry events and festivals in both Adelaide and Darwin."
Cleary continues to demonstrate the reason she was chosen for the scholarship, with her immediate plans following the completion of her certificate including "joining the core team of women... in Adelaide who are starting GirlsRock!... a program that empowers young females, trans and gender-diverse people through music education and mentoring."
When asked about which direction she thought the industry was heading in terms of diversity, equality and workplace health and safety, she stated "I think it's improving and will continue to do so, but change takes time. Discussions have started in all of my circles about gender roles and equality, artists and bands are speaking up about gig etiquette, women are claiming space and others are creating space for them to step into, our stories and experiences and perspectives are being listened to, festivals are putting more females on their lineups...Women are definitely in the spotlight at the moment. But diversity and inclusion go way beyond that to the representation of different ethnic groups, Indigenous people, transgender people, people with varying disabilities and more. We've got more work to do."
Another topic in the industry not talked about enough is mental health, and Cleary has sat in on a panel on just the subject, which "addressed the issues faced by artists in regards to self-promotion, anxiety, insecurities, defining success, dealing with failure, drugs and alcohol, touring, burning out, depression, vulnerability and more."
As an artist, Elli Cleary aka Elli Belle is currently developing her career, with support slots for the likes of Thelma Plum, Justice Crew, and James Morrison. Over the next 12 months, she plans to focus on recording and releasing new music. Her new single (released 20 July 2018) 'Weight of the World' is a stunning, timely and raw piece, written on a day of heavy news a few years ago including "the Bali Nine executions, Nepali earthquake and forced closure of Indigenous communities". A video clip and a series of singles are on their way throughout the year, so Cleary will be one to watch.
To finish off the interview with this incredible up and coming performer, Elli told Evans the best piece of advice she's been given as part of the scholarship is to "Ask questions, ask for help, be authentic, be willing to learn from your mistakes, don't stop enjoying the music, keep your receipts!"
Evans said of the scholarship, "This is a fantastic initiative from Music SA that will help to increase the presence of talented women in the music industry like Elli and give them real-world experiences along with a nationally accredited music business qualification. We feel strongly about the importance of addressing the gender gap in the industry and empowering women, and believe initiatives like this will help spread the word about the amazing females in our industry, both established & up-and-coming."
Listen to her newest single 'Weight of the World':
Follow Elli's Journey: