In April 2017, it was announced that Moshtix and Music SA were teaming up to create a scholarship focused on helping females build careers in the music industry. The winner, Elli Cleary, got the chance to get a nationally accredited Certificate IV in Music Business at Music SA. Now halfway through her studies, Cleary caught up with Moshtix founder Harley Evans to discuss how the scholarship has helped her career so far.
They discussed female representation in the industry and how the Moshtix scholarship has helped her career. They also discussed her plans for the future and her recently released single “Weight Of The World”.
Listen: Elli Cleary/Elli Belle – “Weight Of The World”
The interview has been edited for clarity.
HE: How is the scholarship going Elli? What have been the standout projects and learnings so far?
EC: The scholarship’s going really well! It’s allowed me to study a Certificate IV in Music Industry (Music Business) at Music SA, which I’m halfway through. It’s fun and interesting working with a classroom of people who are at different stages of their career, and who have different goals and directions, it gives an overview and insight into many aspects of the industry.
HE: What are you hoping to do once the scholarship is completed?
EC: I want to continue writing, playing, recording and releasing music! I’m also joining the core team of women here in Adelaide who are starting GirlsRock! which is a program that empowers young females, trans and gender-diverse people through music education and mentoring.
HE: You’re working under the supervision of Music SA’s CEO, Lisa Bishop – one of the industry’s most respected peak body operators. What does working with such a passionate and revered operator like Lisa mean to you as an aspiring female musician and career executive?
EC: Well of course it’s nice to have a female role model to learn from and work alongside. It shouldn’t be a big deal but it is at this point in time, within a male-dominated industry. Lisa is definitely passionate, and it’s inspiring to see her articulate her vision for specific programs as well as SA’s contemporary music scene in general.
HE: As an artist with aspirations to develop a career in music, what do you see as the obstacles facing women at this point in time?
EC: Lack of representation and self-confidence. 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.
“Ask questions, ask for help, be authentic, be willing to learn from your mistakes, don’t stop enjoying the music, keep your receipts!”
HE: Who do you look up to in the music industry that you feel is really nailing it and representing females in music?
EC: In terms of artists, I saw Stella Donnelly play in Adelaide a few months ago and loved her performance; her songs, stories and what she stands for. On the industry side of things, someone who I’ve come across and feel inspired by is Leanne De Souza. She speaks really well about diversity and inclusion, gender equality and representation in the music industry.
HE: You’ve just released your new single, “Weight of The World“, which is stunning. Can you tell us a little about where the inspiration of the track came from?
EC: I wrote the song when I was in Alice Springs a few years ago. I woke up one morning to a lot of devastating news on TV; the Bali Nine executions, Nepali earthquake and forced closure of Indigenous communities. I felt really heavy with sadness, so I picked up my guitar and wrote this song. On the day of recording, there was a big neo-Nazi riot taking place nearby [in Sweden], in light of Trump’s election. It was kind of ironic and disheartening but also empowering to sing Weight Of The World that day.
HE: And where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
EC: In five years I want to have an album released and I want to have toured internationally again, there’s places in Germany and Ireland I can’t wait to get back to and new places I’d like to discover! I also want to keep being involved in artist development and mentoring somehow.
HE: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in these last 12 months as part of the scholarship?
EC: Ask questions, ask for help, be authentic, be willing to learn from your mistakes, don’t stop enjoying the music, keep your receipts!
Elli Cleary performs under the name Elli Belle, you can watch a live performance below. Read more about the Moshtix & Music SA scholarship here.