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Nonô Lellis
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Play It By Ear: How Does The Music Industry Work For a Woman? Meet Nonô, a Brazilian Singer

The music industry had been historically sexist, but we are seeing changes in the last decades considering that women are conquering their own space more and more in all musical genres, allowing some dialogue inside this labor market and bringing hope for a better near future in the lives of women who are part of this market.

To inspire all girls to follow their dreams specifically those who are looking for some opportunity as a musician, Her Campus Cásper Líbero interviewed a Brazilian singer, Nonô Lellis, who told us about her experience in the music industry. She had participated and arrived in the semifinal of The Voice Brasil in 2016, while she was only sixteen. And nowadays, she has more than 150 thousand followers on Instagram and acts as an independent artist in London, dedicating time to improve her music career.

1. When did you realize that music was your ideal path?

I always loved singing. I have been singing since I’m 2 years old and I always wanted to become a singer. Never had I any doubt that I’ll be because I had felt it was my biggest dream so strongly that I never hesitated or was in doubt about another career, do you know? 

I guess the moment I realized that I really could make it happen I was 13/14, so I decided to start posting some videos in an old social media called Ask.fm and there I received 700 thousand likes! After that, in 2014, I participated in the semifinal of The Voice Brasil, and for me, at this moment, I was 100% right that I could make my dreams come true!

2. How are you doing to fight for that dream daily? How have you deepened your skills?

I’m so lucky to work everyday with which I love most in my life. I moved to London in 2016 because I wanna to create English songs and know people and music in a different context than I used to be. I have graduated in Music and, since that, I have the privilege of having a routine in which I’m constantly writing new songs, talking to amazing producers and composers, scheduling sessions in the studio, creating and posting content on my social media. Furthermore I’ve been adjusting my own releases, and because of that, every single day I learn something new, deeping my abilities in all sectors.

3. What are the main difficulties you faced in your career? Do you feel that most of them happened because you are a female figure?

One of the biggest difficulties for me is being an independent artist, which means that I don’t have a major record label behind me helping with contacts. All of my releases, marketing plans, actions, editions, videos and a thousand other things are decided by me and my businessman. But all of it worths: I have a bloodcurdling creative freedom, however, it is extremely exhaustive having to take care of everything during the whole time.

In the beginning of my professional career — after The Voice and the moving to London — I focused on discovering who I was as an artist (as cliche as it sounds, that’s true). What will be my message, my sound, my music style, my work’s image, almost everything that I’ll be and transmit to people. These things were hard to do because even though I had spent years finding and building myself as an artist I had sections with producers who tried to explain my own project to me — like WHAT? In this case I went to the studio, spoke about my references for sound and lyrics and producers stressed me telling me that I was looking at my own project on the wrong side. It was frustrating.

Another time that made me kind of outraged: a producer asked me to record my vocals alone and even though I told him that I already made it a lot of times after — since I’m 15 years old — he persisted telling me that I had to call for him to make sure that I was doing it right.

4. Through your experience, how do you believe is the best way for a Brazilian singer to gain space and prominence in the music market?

Since I was younger I thought Brazilian singers only gained prominence when they exhibited their bodies, sang about “recalque” or explicit things. And that was one of the reasons that made me move abroad. I didn’t want to and I couldn’t have success in this way because it didn’t represent me. 

Now I believe that the world of music has changed and to stand out — in Brazil and in the whole world — an artist has to know clearly what she wants for her project and her own truth. Writing, singing and dancing her chosen style not because it is the most famous at the moment but seeing as the image she wants to show to the world. Being original and herself will make all the difference.

5. What job did you like most? And why?

In my opinion, my favourite job was a section with the English DJ Joe Hertz. My businessman had set a two days in the studio with him — who is a famous producer here in London either — so I wanted to give a good impression showing that I could write songs and melodies quickly. But during the section my mind went blank, I had some ideas but he didn’t express any reaction and that was killing me. I usually write a song a day but that I came out only with the piano part which he created. When I arrived at home, I locked myself in my room, wrote a song in 20 minutes for him about the craziest dreams to bring the next day as an option and he loved it, helping me to adjust the second part. Then I recorded “MØØN”, streamed more than 3 million times and released as his first album single.

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6. You have participated in a reality show years ago. How was the process to participate in it? Do you believe you have achieved the visibility you expected before?

The Voice was a mega experience. I was 16 and I’ve sung only in presentations at the school or music school chapel. The process was charming and scary at the same time considering that I was realizing a dream and being judged for specialists and so many people around Brazil. After the first stage, I won more than 90 million followers, receiving swearing for singing Beyoncé with flat shoes instead of high heels on the one hand and a lot of support and love on the other one. I’m extremely grateful for having been part of it and I take the lessons from there until today.

7. Living abroad, do you think that opportunities there are bigger than here? Do you intend to go back to Brazil?

I have been living here for 4 years and in my experience — comparing years I’d worked in Brazil and in London — I felt that producers here are more open to crazy ideas which not necessarily will be so successful. On the other hand, people who I worked with in Brazil used to be fixated on what would probably make immediate success, breaking our creativity and focusing much more on doing a hit against building a solid career with a certain future.

I intend to realize some sessions in Brazil and I’m always visiting the country, considering that most part of my family is still here, but my job is focused on London at this moment.

8. What do you expect for the future in your career? And what most inspires you to follow your dream daily?

World domination! (laughs) I’m releasing singles which I wrote with some DJs and planning my first album at the same time.

My main inspiration is my family. If they didn’t support me as they did and do every day I probably will not be where I am. They believe in me and I’ll be grateful forever for all of it.

9. What would you say to motivate a woman who is looking to get in the world of music?

Do your best and always remember that everything needs some time. What comes easy, goes easy. Try not to compare your path with another, focusing on yourself and don’t forget you’ll go far! AND BE MOISTURIZED, FAIRY! (laughs) A thousand kisses!

Follow Nonô on her social networks to know more about her career:

Instagram: @NonoOfficial

Facebook: @NonoMusicOfficial

Twitter: @NONOMUSIC

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Text edited by Yasmin Altaras

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Letícia Avancini

Casper Libero '22

A dreamer girl moved by life’s experiences.
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