Imperfection gives you room to grow. Right after I finish a project, or do an interview, or do a performance, I often think of all the things I could have done, but didn’t. I think of all the things I should have said, but didn’t. I think of the things I did do that I maybe shouldn’t have. I used to really beat myself up about that stuff, but my therapist (love her) helped me realize that all of those afterthoughts only come as a result of the experience itself and that they’ll only make me better for the next one. Every time.
As part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Bree New Moon, an extremely talented author, songwriter, music producer, singer, and composer. Bree’s long term goal is to leverage her musical abilities to change the world for the better. Bree’s alignment with nature stays true to her passion for the environment. Bree plans to use her platform with music to raise awareness to the causes she holds close, like environmental awareness, equality and access to quality education. Born to a Native American mother and African American father, Bree New Moon is her given name. The name is a perfect fit for her kind and spiritual ethos, humanizing her for fans all over the world who might be able to relate to her journey. Her music’s transparency is refreshing during a time when people crave authenticity. And her recent album “A Flower Blooms” does just that; Bree New Moon delivers an honest look into her world in hopes that you’ll invite her into yours.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in Queens, New York and I really think growing up in a big city gave me the ability to dream big. My mother is Native American and my father was African American. My diverse background has always informed my sound and my artistry at large. People always think my name is a stage name, but “New Moon” is my Native American name given to me by my mom and my legal middle name. I was 10 when my dad passed away and my mom moved us to Virginia to be closer to family. I was super close with my dad and losing him was Earth-shattering for me, and while I would do anything to get him back, I know I wouldn’t be the person I am now if I hadn’t gone through that experience. It forced me to grow up quickly in a lot of ways and to get in touch with myself early on. It also showed me what an incredible woman my mother is.
When I fell apart, she was able to put the pieces of me back together before I even knew I was broken. She put me in grief counseling immediately after my dad passed and through that I found poetry to be really healing for me during that time. I believe learning to express myself through art that way majorly contributed to my becoming a songwriter.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
This is going to seem random, but stay with me. My sophomore year of college at James Madison University (Go Dukes), I was a marketing major and people would come into my business classes all the time trying to get students to join organizations and do internships with their companies. One day, someone came in offering students the opportunity to do a paid internship selling paint jobs on houses in our hometowns. For some strange reason, this was intriguing to me so I interviewed for it and I was hired. I got assigned a neighborhood I had never been to before in my hometown of Virginia Beach to pitch and sell in. It was the dead of winter in February and I had recruited a team of around 4 or 5 people to go door to door with me selling paint jobs on early weekend mornings. I know — I too am puzzled by why on Earth I would have ever wanted to do this, but I’m about to get to the good part of the story.
My team and I split up so we would hit every house in this neighborhood by my deadline, and on this particular day I caught up to them on their route. I knew it because they would leave these flyers that the company I was interning with made with my face on them on the doors of the houses where no one was home. I came upon this house where this man was standing outside holding one of the flyers and he walked down his driveway towards me asking if I was the girl on the flyer. That man was Gary McCollum, or Gee Mac as I call him now — my manager and Chief Operating Officer of my company; Bree New Moon Enterprises. The moral of the story is if you get a gut feeling that you should do something even if you don’t completely understand why, you should probably listen to that feeling. You never know where it might be trying to take you!
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I recently found out that singing actually runs in my family. I just learned that my grandfather was a singer and recorded an entire album. I was talking to my Aunt Edna about pursuing music as a career and she told me that my grandfather had a beautiful voice. She said she used to fall asleep listening to his music because he didn’t live with them when they were younger and that was the only way for her to hear his voice. Why I only found this out after 24 years of life, is still a mystery to me, but I am so glad that I know now! I knew my Aunt is an extremely gifted musician, but I didn’t know music had such a long history in our family! Wild.
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?
I don’t know how funny this is considering how much time and money was spent on this mistake, but we shot an entire music video for “Young & Reckless” that never got released. It was a 2-day shoot with all these people involved on and off camera, the videographer traveled hours to be there, we went through multiple rounds of editing in post-production, I dug up hours of old home video to use as b roll, only to be told by our lawyers that we couldn’t use any of it! It was riddled with branding issues from liquor bottles, to sneakers, to the extra’s clothing, to me trying to be cool by wearing a shirt that said “Alexander Wang” straight across it — it was terrible.
The good thing about it was we learned so much about what NOT to do so early on. My team and I like to fail fast so we can move on quickly. Another good thing was we ended up with a completely different concept for the video because of Covid and the timing of the production. I guess you could say it was a blessing in disguise.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I just released my debut EP, “A Flower Blooms” and I couldn’t be happier about it! This is my first cohesive project and it feels amazing to be putting it out into the world. I started writing some of these songs something like 7 years ago so it’s freeing to finally be releasing them. It’s available on all streaming platforms now!
I’m working on the music video for the next single as well which is always exciting. I’m directing it and I’m so in love with the concept. I won’t say too much about it just yet, but the video is for “Empty,” so keep an eye out for that!
I also had the pleasure of being asked to create the theme song for a podcast that a local entrepreneur, Dr. Angela Reddix, is launching with her daughter, Anyssa, in January. It was the first time I had ever done anything like that and it was in some ways even more gratifying than creating for my own projects. I’m like Dr. Reddix’s biggest fan, so to be able to deliver a product that she was so happy with was the best feeling in the world. The podcast is called, “She Got It From Her Mama” and you can find it everywhere podcasts are available soon!
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?
- Perspective is what makes art beautiful.
As art makers, we all have unique lenses that are shaped by our experiences and by who we are. Can you imagine if every painting was the same color, the same size, and painted with the same brush? It would get kind of boring and it wouldn’t be an accurate representation of the world it existed in. All stories are valid and deserve to be told.
While diversity is a necessary step, it can’t stop there. There is another matter that is just as important as diversity, and that’s equity. When marginalized groups are in the room where decisions are made, their true voices are often stifled. There are lots of rooms that look diverse, but the people there who represent these marginalized groups (including women) are expected to do what they’re told. They shouldn’t be used as pawns to create the illusion of equity. True diversity requires equity which gives everyone the power and the agency to let their voices be heard and their stories be told.
2. We need to change the beauty standards.
Little girls of all shades, cultures, shapes, and sizes need to see themselves positively represented. For a long time, television and film only perpetuated one type of woman as beautiful and that has been detrimental to our culture. The way that women of color are treated in this country is terrible and the belief systems we have around what features are beautiful are so limited and some even unrealistic. All women — regardless of race, religion, sexuality, gender expression, height, weight, age, disability — ALL WOMEN are beautiful and should be celebrated and affirmed in the uniqueness of their beauty.
3. Change the narrative around negative stereotypes.
The way that certain ethnic groups have been portrayed in television and film have been extremely damaging to the way those groups are seen in American culture. The power that these mediums have and the effect they have on the culture is greatly underestimated and needs to be taken very seriously. Again, there needs to be diversity amongst the people who are writing the stories so that we can change what stories are being told about marginalized people and we can accurately depict them.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Imperfection gives you room to grow.
Right after I finish a project, or do an interview, or do a performance, I often think of all the things I could have done, but didn’t. I think of all the things I should have said, but didn’t. I think of the things I did do that I maybe shouldn’t have. I used to really beat myself up about that stuff, but my therapist (love her) helped me realize that all of those afterthoughts only come as a result of the experience itself and that they’ll only make me better for the next one. Every time.
2. Don’t compromise on your vision.
Most artists know exactly what they want. Even when our vision is crystal clear to us, it can be hard to ask for help in bringing that vision to fruition because we don’t want to be demanding or we don’t want to rub people the wrong way by being headstrong about our ideas and choices. I learned recently that if you have a clear vision, you have it for a reason and it deserves to be honored for all that it is! It used to be so hard for me to just tell people what I wanted when I was working with them on a project, but I’ve been fortunate to have a team of people who are willing to be as patient and tenacious as they need to be in order to realize my vision. My mixing engineer, for example, completely understands and appreciates the fact that we spent months on getting the EP just right. He knew how important it was because he recognized the vision.
3. Mentors are awesome.
I think that mentorship is incredibly underrated. Nobody likes being told what to do (especially not creatives), but that’s a common misconception of what mentorship really is. My manager both works for me and acts as a mentor for me. While he offers me a lot of insight and suggestions, I’m the one that always has to make the final call. He has run a billion-dollar company, so why wouldn’t I want his advice and counsel about how to run mine? I strongly believe in having someone around who has been where you want to be and who is excited to help you get there.
4. Don’t expect everyone around you to understand what you’re doing.
When something big happens in your life, I think it’s natural to think that everyone you know is going to be cheering for you, but I learned pretty early on that that isn’t always the case. As I started growing in ways I never had before, people saw me differently and didn’t understand the choices I was making. My manager always says, “People will either be attracted to the light or repelled by it.” When things really started happening for me, it seemed like some of the most important people in my life at the time weren’t willing to come with me where I was going because they just didn’t get it. When I started spending more time on my work and less time hanging out with my friends, they noticed and some of them didn’t like it. I probably wasn’t as graceful about the transition as I would have liked to have been, but I didn’t feel supported in the changes that I was making and they were changes that were necessary to my development. I can’t blame them, but I never should have expected everyone to be on board. Knowing that back then would have saved me a lot of heartache.
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of people who did get it too. My best friend and college roommate, Haley, is now my Chief Marketing Officer and she is constantly arguing with Gee Mac about which one of them is my biggest fan. As I continue to focus on my career, I am also meeting so many wonderful people who understand exactly what I’m doing and where I’m going, and who couldn’t be happier to come along for the journey. It would have been nice to know that would happen too!
5. Be patient. Like, really patient.
Getting everything in place from a business standpoint as well as developing myself as an artist has been a process that could not possibly have been rushed. A year ago, if someone would have told me to be patient and that building a strong foundation would take some time, I would have smiled and nodded thinking it couldn’t take more than a couple of months. Everyone should know by now that there is no such thing as an overnight success. If it happened overnight, chances are, it won’t be a success. The greatest people who are perceived as being overnight successes have been at it for a long time. People thought Lizzo was an overnight success not knowing that she had been working at it for almost a decade! Now that I have a deeper understanding of all that it takes to be an artist and a CEO, I’m not focused on any timeline. The only thing I’m after is making a positive impact on a person to person basis, day by day. One step at a time.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Honor yourself and listen to your body. You know when you are exhausted versus when you’re being lazy. Or when you’re feeling down as opposed to actively procrastinating. Be honest with yourself about when it’s time to power through and when you need to do something else. Take a break. Go for a walk. Watch your favorite movie. Take a nap. Sometimes you just have to give yourself a chance to miss the work. Sometimes you’re just a spark of inspiration away from a new energy supply. Don’t be scared to give yourself what you need or to ask for help when you get stuck.
I’m so grateful to have a team that understands this concept. While I’m so grateful and fortunate to be a full-time artist, we and the people on our teams have to recognize that creative work is extremely draining. It requires us to feed and nourish ourselves in order to keep doing it. Make sure the people you’re working with understand that.
I’m also a huge proponent of taking care of your mental health. I think everyone who is able to should have a therapist. I hate that there is such a stigma around this topic because I wholeheartedly believe the world would be a better place if everyone had one. While being a person is wonderful, it can also be challenging. Artists especially tend to get stuck in our heads and sometimes we just need someone to pull us out! Life can be rough sometimes and even when it’s great, therapy affords me an awareness about myself that empowers me and informs me about how to keep it great!
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. 🙂
ELIMINATE SINGLE-USE PLASTICS. FULL STOP. This is an issue that has to be dealt with at a corporate level because as much as I try, it would be almost impossible for me (a consumer) to completely cut out single-use plastics. I challenge you to keep a tally of how much plastic you touch in just one day. You’ll be amazed! It’s mind-boggling to me because there are so many other sustainable options companies could be used for packaging. Plastic is the furthest thing from biodegradable and not too many years from now there will just be garbage everywhere and the ocean will be void of life and full of trash if we don’t make some serious changes RIGHT NOW.
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?
There are three people that I wouldn’t be who I am without. I owe everything about the heart of who I am to my mother. She taught me how to be strong, how to be courageous, how to love, and how to see the good in any and every situation. She showed me how to endure hardships and what unshakeable faith looks like. She showed me how to laugh loudly and dance in the rain and look out for other humans just because they’re human. She showed me what it means to be a good person. She showed me that I could achieve anything I set my mind to. She helped me become Bree.
My manager, Gee Mac, and his wife, Cookie (or Mama C as I call her), have taught me what it takes to become great at what you do. They have shown me what it means to have discipline and that while most people think it doesn’t take that much to be successful, it takes that much and more. They have raised my standards for myself and introduced me to parts of myself I never would have found on my own. They saw something in me. They saw my potential even when I didn’t. They helped me become Bree New Moon.
There aren’t strong enough words to describe the amount of gratitude I have for all three of them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Life is about choices.” -Deborah Bradley. My mom has been saying this for as long as I can remember and it lives in the back of my mind as a result. There is no such thing as a small choice. Every single decision I’ve ever made has led to me this moment right now, talking to you. And every decision you’ve ever made has led you to the same moment, reading these words. Trippy, huh?
What I’m trying to say is seemingly simple decisions alter the trajectory of our lives at every moment of it. So it’s important to be mindful of where those choices might lead you. For example, if I had not made the decision to do that internship, who knows where I’d be and who I’d be?
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. 🙂
Alicia Keys. She has always struck me as someone who is walking directly in her purpose. She seems to have such a keen awareness and understanding of who she is and what she has to offer the world. It appears to me that she is living at her highest potential and I would love to pick her brain about how she got to that place within herself. Oh yeah, and there’s also the fact that she’s won 15 Grammys and is one of the most gifted musicians of our time. The way that she is able to heal through the gift of music is magical. Getting to hear from her mouth about what continues to drive her at this stage of her life and her career would be invaluable. Breakfast or lunch would definitely be on me!
How can our readers follow you online?
You can find me @BreeNewMoon on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube!
You can also join my mailing list at BreeNewMoon.com for updates on everything I’m doing and exclusive content! I can’t wait to see you there. (:
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!