Years ago, when I changed my website platform, I thought all the content moved with me… I was so wrong; I’d lost one of the of the loveliest interviews I’d ever done. Thankfully, I reached out to ILONA, hoping she had the original content as my email account had been deleted with my blog. I was in tears when I received ILONA’s message yesterday -- advising me that she had recovered EVERYTHING! I am truly grateful. Here is the original interview that I did with ILONA back in October 2015, which was posted on raniawatts.com before everything was coated in cement and ink!
Thank you so much ILONA for furnishing me with such GORGEOUS pictures. Photo credit: Ellie Tomassi, Sally Carpenter, Trudi Knight.
Originally from Bulgaria ILONA is a: bright, intelligent and talented Singer/Songwriter who has been based in London, England UK for the last 14 years. Approximately three years ago Ex: Iron Maiden & Cutting Crew member Tony Moore had met ILONA while she was attending the Queen Mary, University of London studying German and Russian. Moreover, did I forget to mention that ILONA also speaks: Bulgarian, English & some Spanish that is quite the growing repertoire of languages! ILONA had a profound desire to have a career as Singer; after having discussed her goals with Tony, the necessary arrangements had been made to hear ILONA sing at his studio. Tony quickly discovered that not only did ILONA house a stunning voice but also the: potential, determination and work ethic to genuinely succeed within the Music Industry. ILONA’s endurance of character will prove, to be a vital asset for her with an ever so growing career within the Music Industry.
Cement Covered Quills would like to invite you to follow ILONA on social media via: Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and YouTube.
RMMW: What is your first musical memory?
I: Singing along to cassette tapes of ERA, Vaya con Dios and a beautiful Celine Dion record in
French. I must have been 7 or 8 years old.
RMMW: Are you a classically trained singer?
I: No. Singing came as a natural expressions when I was very young and I’ve only had a few vocal lessons to understand the correct techniques of using the voice. Other than that, it’s been hundreds of hours of studying other singers and the way they project emotion through vocals, then imitating that. I found this way of learning suited me most.
RMMW: How old were you when you wrote your first song & what was it about?
I: I was always writing poetry and turning it into lyrics, I remember doing that in all my lessons in school... so from a very young age... The first song was a very dark, depressing ballad about unrequited love and feeling rejected, I was a pretty dramatic teenager. Most songs started appearing around that period.
RMMW: As a Singer/Songwriter, how do you measure your success?
I: Success is a very odd thing. I will still be happy just having the chance to write songs for the rest of my life, but I’d also love them to be heard by as many people as possible, and perform them on a world arena tour. It varies, but usually the feeling is that it’s never enough, I finish one milestone and the next thing I want is to conquer another, bigger one, right away. It’s an ever-evolving notion.
I: Empowering others to be who they want to be, like what they want to like, and live the way they choose best. It’s about following your path and chasing your dreams unconditionally. I do hope the music I make brings someone a sense of hope and happiness, that it means something real to another person.
RMMW: Who or what influences the music you create?
I: Life. It’s a cliché but it’s there for a reason. Watching and studying relationships, observing my friends, putting myself in situations that have intense outcomes. I like taking risks. It’s quite overwhelming at times, as I write about everything and everyone that has touched my life somehow, and I get very vulnerable with the lyrics, but in a strange way that openness through music makes me feel protected. Honest writing brings a sense of bravery and strength that makes you confident enough to put it all out and be okay with that.
RMMW: Who are the individuals in your life that keep you grounded and focused?
I: My family, friends, my wonderful band who are like family, and my manager who believes in me even more than I do. It’s a very nice, normal circle of positive, kind, real people. It’s the only thing that brings stability.
RMMW: Do you ever write songs in Bulgarian then translate them to English or vice versa?
I: I have done once! The song is still on SoundCloud and it's called 'To bring back your heart'. But I’m used to writing in English, as I moved here at the age of 14 so had time to teach myself how to do it right..it wasn’t to difficult because I loved it so much, it was what I was doing every day. Bulgarian is a beautiful language to write and sing in too, the words have this haunting sound ballads are perfect for.
RMMW: What would you like to achieve in 2015 with regards to your career goals?
I: Releasing the finished debut album would be a dream. I can’t wait to share all this new music, and go on tour. The band and I have some hugely exciting trips coming up this summer connected with my new single ‘Beautiful Country’, but for now it’s under wraps. One thing I can say is that everything about the new record is very different from what I have created before.
Heroes In Disguise
Sing For You
RMMW: Will 2015 be a touring year? If yes, what countries?
I: Definitely, and we’ll be travelling quite far away! It’s a secret at the moment but everything will be revealed soon.
RMMW: What aspect of being a Singer/Songwriter do you find to be the most challenging?
I: It depends on what you wish to do with the music… For me, in terms of wanting to make a song successful, in getting the production just right, and collaborating with the people whose style fits your idea of the outcome perfectly, the challenge lies in searching for that dream team who is dedicated enough to want to put it all on the line for that one song. Once you find the right team behind it, it can transform everything. I’m always thinking of it as an all-or-nothing project, where you have no plan B, and work twice as hard as you think you should, and if it doesn’t work you dive back into it with another 200% again. That’s hard to do on your own, you need a team willing to jump with you. In terms of being a singer, the hardest part for me would be maintaining the voice in top form no matter how tired you are, how jet lagged, or how emotional, it’s finding that balance in your life to be physically fit enough to play long shows night after night. That’s where training comes in :) I think you have to be willing to accept and ask for help.
RMMW: Which of your accomplishments do you take pride in the most?
I: Putting the band together. Finding the right musicians who have the look, the talent, the drive and the character you envision, can take years. You end up spending all of your time on the road with them and getting along is essential, especially when you are away from home, making music, on tour for the first time, it can be a whirlwind.
I: Do the things you are afraid of doing and you secretly wish you could. Anything is possible, I really believe that.
RMMW: What advice would you give an emerging singer/songwriter?
I: Use what life keeps giving you, whether good or bad, for inspiration, turn your experiences into songs. Perform when you know you are ready, and once you are, gig as much as you can. Basically, pay your dues, listen to those who know better than you and enjoy the journey.
RMMW: Why was it important for you to advocate on behalf of the mental health community?
I: Supporting mental health organizations felt like something I had to do, as the subject felt personal to me. There are so many people suffering in silence, and mental health conditions such as panic attacks and depression can take over your life if you don’t know how to share you fear and anxiety in a way that helps you. Not everyone is able to find a release, a healthy outlet for heavy thoughts, and this is where wonderful campaigns like CHHSLetsTalk come in to help. Artists on social media have the power and the tools to make others in need feels less alone, and I think we can use it to encourage each other.
RMMW: All artist go through a creative block, how do you contend with yours?
I: It’s best not to push it and let it run it’s course, you won’t find great inspiration constantly, it needs to come and go so that you can recharge, and create something better.
RMMW: If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I: I’d enjoy creating chocolate muffins out of thin air. I’d also enjoy having all of Spiderman’s powers. That way I can solve crimes and write about it on top of a skyscraper, eating a muffin!