Mill Creek's iLana Armida continues to pursue her passion in the City of Angels.
When iLana Armida was performing at Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles in June in front of a packed room and her parents, she knew it was where she needed to be.
“It just felt like what I should be doing,” Armida said. “It felt like a serendipitous moment just how everything came together, and my family was there. We killed it and packed the house, and it just felt really good.”
Kim Simone said she enjoyed seeing her daughter doing what she loves while performing at Hotel Cafe.
“When I see other people in the crowd in the audience just enjoying the music as much as I do, it just kind of validates what I’ve known all along that she’s really gotten great at what she does,” she said. “It’s a really proud moment for us.”
Armida, a 2010 graduate of Lakewood Ranch High School, left her parents, Kim and Thomas Simone, and her friends in Mill Creek in January 2017 to pursue a career in music in Los Angeles.
Now she is preparing to release her first EP in spring 2020 and dropped her most recent single, “Novelty,” in September.
She said the EP will “take on a little bit of a different character” because it’s influenced by pop dance hall and Caribbean music.
“I feel like this EP is going to be exactly where I am in my life right now,” Armida said. “I want it to be as genuine as can be. I’m really just excited to put together a full body of work for the first time since I’ve been out here.”
Simone said that seeing her daughter follow her dreams is exciting.
“She’s been doing this since she was a little girl,” Simone said. “It’s really just been her main focus. She always wanted to perform. For her being out there doing what she loves makes my heart happy.”
Since striking out on her own in L.A., Armida has focused on her songwriting abilities by writing songs with artists incuding Alex Kinsley, who won the third season of “X-Factor,” and Laura Marano, who is most known for her role in Disney’s TV show “Austin and Ally.” She also wrote a song with Common Kings, who opened for Bruno Mars at a concert in November 2018 in Hawaii.
“It’s cool because I get to write in different genres with all different kinds of artists,” Armida said.
Hearing the songs she’s helped to write on the radio or streamed has reaffirmed her belief in her songwriting abilities.
In February, Armida put out her single “High No More,” which made it on a Spotify playlist with 1.2 million followers and has since gained 350,000 streams with 15,000 monthly listeners.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do that at all if I hadn’t come out here and met the songwriters and producers that I met,” she said. “It’s been a whirlwind of creativity and craziness and meeting really cool people.”
Although she’s proud of the music she produced while in Lakewood Ranch, Armida said her music and songwriting has developed exponentially since moving to the City of Angels.
“You really have to step up when you’re out here, and I think I’ve been really lucky to work with some of the most talented people I’ve ever met,” she said. “They pushed me to hone my craft and be better. I’m a better musician. I think I’m a better singer now and definitely a better songwriter.”
Being around “massively successful” musicians and artists has caused Armida to measure her own success, and that has helped her realize she is “leaps and bounds” ahead of where she was a few years ago.
She said that she continues to struggle while she attempts to get a big break in an industry that “tries to turn influencers into musicians instead of musicians into stars.” Rather than listening to her songs, she said that record companies ask about her social media following.
“It’s super frustrating to see her play these gigs and have all these fans and have 20,000 streams on Spotify, and still nobody will even look at her in the record industry,” Simone said.