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East County Tuesday, Sep. 7, 2021 4 months ago

East Bradenton's rising star returns to her roots

Mill Creek's iLana Armida finds her artistic identity through the pandemic.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Although the pandemic might have stunted some artists, singer-songwriter iLana Armida said she discovered her artistic identity.

The East County native said the inability for her to collaborate with other musicians while in lockdown in Los Angeles forced her to focus on herself. She delved into her “sound,” along with what impact she wanted to make through her music.

“I thought 2020 would be the year to do shows and travel and maybe a tour,” said Armida, who visited her parents in Mill Creek during August. “I found a tweet the other day from 2019 that was like ‘More shows in 2020.’ That didn’t age well. The whole pandemic kind of forced me to reevaluate everything.” 

Armida now is releasing the songs she wrote during the pandemic. For her latest single, “Fly,” she decided to enlist the help of her parents, Kim and Tommie Simone, to create a music video for the song in Mill Creek. She since has returned to LA, and “Fly” was released Sept. 1 on Spotify and Apple Music. The music video for “Fly” has yet to be released.

Kim Simone helped her daughter with set design for the video by using what she’s learned from creating the “The Yaya and Nono Show,” with her twin sister, Tracy Zimmerman, on YouTube. Tommie Simone has honed his videography and editing skills working on “Yaya and Nono.”

Armida’s best friend of 18 years, Chelsea Davidson, who is a cosmetologist and makeup artist, helped Armida with her hair and makeup for the video, which was completed in house.

“I know a lot of people, especially musicians and artists, don’t get that support from their family, and it’s like, ‘Get a real job,’” Armida said. “It’s never been like that for me. My parents have always been my biggest supporters and not even just supporting from afar. They’re obviously hands on.”

Her parents even helped her write a song. Armida participates in a songwriting challenge with other musicians from LA and has to write a song that is submitted before the Sunday deadline of each week. She had forgotten about the challenge and enlisted her parents’ help to develop lyrics to a song.

“I feel extremely lucky to have this home base here because it’s different from LA,” Armida said. “I love getting back to my roots. There’s a lot of the fake Hollywood (in LA), and it’s kind of difficult to make friends there sometimes, so getting back to my roots and remembering who I am is important.”

On. Aug. 11, Armida released her song “Summertime Love.” The release was special to her because it happened on her birthday in her hometown.

Her family spent the day by the pool in the backyard with her mom cooking and “Summertime Love” playing on repeat.

“It was the most chill release ever, and it was perfect because the song is laid back and something you would listen to on the way to the beach,” Armida said.

Armida describes her music as “feel-good music.” She wants people to be able to connect through her music and escape reality, even if it’s just for three minutes while listening to a song or for longer at one of her shows.

“I want my music and shows to be a safe place where people from all different walks of life can come,” she said. They can have a good time and forget their troubles for the moment. I’ve kind of always had this optimistic outlook on things even when they’re bad, and I want that to reflect in my music.”

iLana Armida uses the green screen and other equipment in her home to create a music video for her song "Fly" with the help of her parents and friends.

She makes pop music with influences of R&B, hip hop, soul and Motown, which are all styles of music she listened to while growing up.

She said she also fuses different cultural stylings because she grew up in south Florida, and many of her friends are Hispanic or from the Caribbean. She incorporates different languages, including Spanish and Italian, because of her family being Italian and her friends being of different races and ethnicities.

“I think that goes back to my inclusivity and trying to unite people,” Armida said. “I remember listening to reggaeton, and when there was just a little break where it said something in English, I remember getting excited. It felt like I could relate to it more, so I was like, why not incorporate that in my music and connect to more people from around the world?”

Armida said the pandemic stopped her from going on tour before she was ready as an artist.

“Now I feel so much more confident in the song I’m writing and the music we’re creating,” Armida said. “I’m in a place now I just want to put everything out that I wrote.”

In the past, Armida would create dozens of versions of songs until she thought she found the perfect one, but her perspective changed over the past year.

She had written different versions of her song “Fly” working with different producers, but when she went back and listened to the original demo, she realized that was the version she wanted all along.

“I don’t know why I was trying to beat (the original version) and trying to wait for the perfect time,” Armida said. “I’ve kind of decided I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m going to create my art and put it out there and see how it resonates and stop waiting for the perfect moment.”

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