LFC: What made you want to become a musician?
Ilana Armida: I fell in love with performing at a young age. I remember dancing around my living room with my father listening to Otis Redding and Micheal Jackson and the music I heard made me feel so many emotions and made me want to dance. I knew that I wanted to be on the opposite side of that and be a part of something that made people feel good and made people move. My parents always had me stand on tables and sing and dance in front of friends and family. I loved the way it felt to be "on stage" and make people Happy. I got in to musical theatre at a young age and I always wrote music but I had no background in how to actually make a career out of music and performance. I decided early on that I would study the music business and figure out how to make something happen for me. I went to Florida Atlantic University where I learned all about the commercial music business industry. I worked in recording studios, ran PR campaigns, I began managing artists my second semester and eventually became the Vice President of the student run record label. I learned a lot about the creative process, PR, publicity, recording, managing, distributing, I saw what worked and what failed and it inspired me to create an industry of my own. I wrote and recorded a short EP and from there my family and I began running all Ilana Armida operations including studio sessions, live shows, marketing, advertising, distributing, under the name Eastpark Entertainment. I love this industry because I get to be creative and do what I love. But it is a competitive industry. It can be very difficult to organically garner fans.
LFC: Tell us about a specific moment or story in your personal life/career that you'd like to share with readers.
IA: When I was 15 I flew to my grandmas house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with my family. We went to this big music festival up there called Summer Fest. I got tickets to the Ciara, Chris Brown, and Ludachris concert. My mom came. We got there early and realized we had nosebleed seats and could barely see the stage. mom saw third row center seats that were empty so we just snuck up there and sat down and no one said anything. We were sure we were gunna get kicked out once the seats filled up but somehow the show started and no one ever claimed our seats. Ciara got on stage to perform and it was amazing. She stopped the show to call 3 people on stage to dance with her and sure enough the security guard picked me up and shoved me on stage. I was freaking out. I just stared into the stadium at the thousands of people and in the corner of my eye I could see my face on the huge screen. I had never felt so at home. I obviously killed the "walk it out" and popped my little white booty a bit and the crowed, and Ciara went wild. Being on that stage, even for a short moment during someone else's show made me want IT that much more.
LFC: We would love to bring back the walk it out. Where do we sign up? But on a more serious note, how would you define success for yourself?
IA: I define success as being able to do what you love for a living and being happy. To me success is not about being the best of the best or having the most money, it is about finding out exactly who you are and what you love to do and making a career out of that. Also, being able to support yourself and your loved ones with that career.
LFC: We find happiness and stability to be running themes for our entrefemmeurs' definitions of success. As a woman, do you feel that you've had to overcome obstacles that men in the music industry have not faced?
IA: Yes. The entertainment industry is predominantly run by men. Almost every producer, manager, and agent I have met have been men. I am a very professional and driven artist and I love to collaborate with other artists. I am constantly searching for new producers to work with but I find that my inbox is flooded with male "producers" who want to "link up" and discuss a track. I found out early on that most of the time these "producers" use this as a ploy to try and get in my pants which is obviously disgusting but mostly frustrating and extremely annoying. I am trying to build a career in this industry and create something special yet I have to sift through a plethora of douchebags to find someone who will take the time to see my vision and actually take me seriously. My abilities are doubted usually instantaneously when I walk into a studio session or performance. Apparently because I am a woman, and a decent looking one, I have no idea how to run sound or how Logic Pro works. Women have to try a lot harder to gain respect and be taken seriously in our industry. The music industry is saturated with artists who depend on looks and followers to sustain their careers and men take advantage of that. It is perceived that as an artist, if I come across too sexy I am viewed as a slut or that I am trying to hard. If I am not sexy enough, I wont sell. My appearance and persona are taken into account usually before my talent and work ethic are even noticed. This sexism in the music industry is one of the reasons why I decided to build my own industry and handle everything myself.
LFC: How do you want to be remembered for your work, if at all?
IA: I want to be remembered as a great performer. A genuine artist who created music and performed music that people could relate to. Even on a small scale, I would love to be remembered as a positive driving force in the entertainment industry.
LFC: If you could give our readers any career advice, what would it be?
IA: I advise readers to embrace who they are. Being different or weird is good. When I was younger I was constantly searching for where I fit in and come to find out I did not and that is okay. Use that thing that makes you YOU and follow your dream no matter what your situation is. I remember my dad told me that happiness was a choice and we can choose to make the best out of our situations. This idea has kept me afloat in an industry that is too often discouraging and difficult. Whatever career you are pursuing if it is what YOU want and what YOU love to do, don't let anything or anyone stand in the way of you achieving your goals. You only need one idea, one song, or one moment to change everything. So I advise that no matter what you keep pushing and fighting for what you want until it happens for you.
We want to hear from you! Comment your thoughts below, or submit your own story here!