Hear Ilana Armida Open Up About Her New Single, "High No More"

Hear Ilana Armida Open Up About Her New Single, "High No More"

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In her latest single, "High No More," LA-based singer, songwriter, and dancer Ilana Armida tells the dark story of a relationship with an end looming. Instead of accepting the fate of the relationship, Ilana speaks up for herself through catchy melodies and isn't afraid to suffer through confrontation in order to achieve what's best for her. As a graduate of music business school and an owner of her own entertainment label, Ilana is no stranger to standing her ground.

Sophie Harris: How would you personally describe "High No More" and what was the creative process like to make it?

Ilana Armida: We wrote the song last year at BMG Studios. It was really late [at night]. I set up this session with a couple of buddies I've written with before: J Bach, Allen Mattox, Mike Schiavo, and Alex Kinsey. Everyone in the session was kind of a zombie because we didn't get started until 10pm. We thought it was going to be a failed session because everyone was half asleep, but then we had the idea to write it on guitar. I do hip hop and pop stuff – I never just start with guitar. We had Mike start strumming some chords, Alan and I came up with the "High No More" [lyrical] concept, and it came together quicker than I've ever written a song. Within an hour, we had the whole first verse and chorus done.

I was very sleepy when I was recording the track and I don't think we really realized what we did until we listened back the next day, and we were like, "Guys. Did you listen to the song we did last night? Because it's pretty dope." Then, I played it for my roommates and they were, like, "Yo. This is really dope. You need to put this out." We had no idea that it was even something worth putting out until we all listened back. It was just one of those weird times that we all, in our sleepy state, came together and made something cool.

The concept itself is very straightforward. I wanted to write something that was relatable for a lot of people. And I've been there before – in a relationship where things used to be all spicy and sexy, and then he's not trying anymore. You're bored in the relationship and you're rooting for it still! You're like, "Come on, dude. Put in some effort. This used to be great, and now, it's just falling apart." The song never really gets to the point of, like, "I'm out of here." But it's that point right before you make that decision. Where you remember these fine memories of it being so cool and so great and exciting – but it's gone now and you're trying to get it back.

SH: Would you say there's a sense of standing up for yourself in those lyrics instead of just kind of letting the relationship stay how it's been? Like, speaking up about what you want and being that person who is able to speak your mind?

IA: I very much am that person in all of my friendships and relationships. I'm always very straightforward and honest. It is a little sassy because, you know, the first line is "You tell me about your day, but I really don't give a f**k." I remember writing that and being like, "Is this too much?" But [the writers were] like, "Is that what you would say?" And I'm like "Yeah." So, they were like, "Well let's keep it in there!" There's almost a little bit of sarcasm, like "I'm good. That's fine. Whatever you want to do." It's a little passive aggressive, but yeah. Definitely. It's definitely addressing the issue head on.

SH: I love that. I feel like there are so many artists and musicians who usually just sing about what the man wants instead of speaking for themselves. And your music is completely different from that norm.

IA: Well, thank you. That's the goal! I want to talk about things in a slightly different way than they've been talked about before but still in a way that most people can relate to.

SH: Are you going to release a video for "High No More" at some point?

IA: I would love to. Music videos are my favorite part of the whole process. Like, the I have plans – tentative plans – to shoot a visual in the coming month. I definitely want to make it happen.

SH: That's another thing that really speaks to me about your music. I know you've been a dancer and a singer for as long as you can remember, and the way that you've been able to combine those elements is really cool. So how do you think that adding the components of dance and art really add to your lyrical and musical style?

IA: I grew up watching music videos –probably earlier than I should've. I remember back in the 90's when MTV was all music videos, there was this [channel] called "The Box," and it just played music videos 24/7. It was mostly hip-hop and R&B; stuff, and I was like, "I want to be a video vixen when I grow up!" I was like, 6 years old. So, I'm obsessed with music videos. I did a music video for my last single, or a lyric video. It was 100% my concept. I creative directed and I got to show people a different side of my brain. It lets me put together the full package, because I have this vision in my head when I'm writing a song of what I want the video to look like. When I get to do videos, I get to put the whole package out for people see what these feelings look like to me.

SH: I love that you have a visual image in your head from the beginning.

IA: Well, I mean – I don't know if it's strategy as much as it's just my brain going a million miles a minute. And like, "Oh, this would be dope!" and "We could do this!" I'm doing everything through my own entertainment company, so I'm sure you can imagine that we don't have the big budget to do the music videos that I would love to do. But when I do get to do these things, I'm excited to get my ideas out there.

SH: So, you started your own entertainment label? Can you tell me a little bit about the process behind that?

IA: I've been trying to [start one] since I was 15 or 16 years old. In high school, I was singing, I had friends who were singing, and I was in a hip-hop dance crew of all boys. I thought if I could get all these talented and creative people together, we could create this group, support each other, and do shows. I wanted to start booking events and figuring it all out, but trying to get a bunch of 16-year-olds to commit to anything didn't work. I remember organizing meetings and printing out agendas for everyone and trying to be, like, really professional. And it never happened.

Then in college, I tried to put out my own EP that I wrote with a friend. I mean, it was garbage music, but it was my first run at trying to do a full project. That's when I actually created an LLC and tried to legitimize it when I understood how to do that, because I went to school for music business. Now that I actually have music that's worth putting out into the world, I've partnered up with a couple people who have worked in the industry for a long time. They're helping me to organize everything. For example, we're distributing through AWAL for "High No More," but the last [single] we distributed ourselves, so we're slowly getting the connections and resources that we need.

SH: Have you faced any challenges starting your own LLC so early and handling everything yourself, especially in the male-dominated music industry?

IA: Luckily, I have the most supportive parents of all time. My dad really helps me on the business side of things. He started his own business, so he set a really good example and figured out the best ways to help me. Plus, they both love what I'm doing, they love music, and they've always been super supportive. So, that's been helpful, especially to have my dad – a strong, male figure – be so supportive.

I've met people saying that they wanted to manage me, seeming very legit and having the credentials and the money. But knowing that's the industry is exactly what I went to school for – so I wouldn't get screwed over or sign a contract that I didn't understand. I've been presented several times with contracts and guys trying to take advantage [of me]. I've been lucky enough to know the game before I got into it, but there are so many other women that don't know, and that totally get screwed out of money or just taken advantage of. It's tough.

And it's also tough because during any writing session I'm in, it's rare that there's another female in the room. I'll meet a girl [in the industry] and be like, "Oh my god, want to be my friend?" Because I'm constantly surrounded by dudes. I think that comes through in some of my music. As happy and "dance-y" as a lot of my songs are, there's also this little, like, bitter girl in the background. There's a little bit of a jab in the stuff I'm writing, and I think it's pent up sassiness from all the dudes I have to deal with.

SH: Honestly, thank you so much for releasing that kind of music. It's relatable but it's also truly personal to your own stories. It's really hard to find that balance and you've definitely found it.

IA: Thank you! That means so much because that's what I'm trying to do. It's really tough. I get anxious before I release stuff because, like you said, it's personal. I've tried really hard to be as genuine as I can be when I'm writing and singing these songs, so it kind of feels like I'm saying, "Hey world! Here's a piece of me for you to judge." You know? So, I appreciate that. Thank you. I hope ["High No More"] resonates with people the way I want it to.


Keep up with Ilana on:

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To The Soon-To-Be College Freshman Who Think They'll Keep Their High School Friends, Know This

You will maybe talk to 10 people back from your high school while your in college.

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I know what you are thinking "Of course I am going to still talk to all my high school friends once we graduate." "You just didn't keep up with your friends." "I am going to talk to them every day."

Of course, you may be the lucky ones that go on to the same college and university, but if you follow your best friend to college then have you ever thought to yourself. "Did I choose my school based on if my friend(s) would go to college together." Obviously, it could be coincidental that you end up in the same place, but my argument is more on the idea of having friends that go to the same college on your list of important things once you move away.

Now if you are still reading and still in denial with what I am saying then continue.

Since moving away from home I have broadened my horizons and met more people then I could ever have imagined. I have met people that if I have not kept an open mind to them I would not be friends with them now. You will most likely choose the same type of friends that you had in high school if you do not keep an open mind when finding friends in college.

You also do not want to be that person who refuses to make other friends besides their high school friends. I hate to break it to you, but your high school friends will find other friends beside you when they leave for college/university. This time in your life is supposed to be "a new chapter" if you do not branch out of your comfort zone then you will be stuck in a little bubble for the rest of your life.

Not only will your friends in your high school class be making friends, but you need to make friends that are in the same stage of life that you are also in. Still talking to high school aged friends will limit you from conversations due to distance, lack of relevance, and just not going through the same stuff as you.

Sounds daunting? I know.

I am not saying that you can not be friends still with your high school friends. From time to time I catch up with mine to see how the school is going for them, and how they are doing, but I am building and forming relationships with my friends at college because you have had to start up from ground zero, and will be forming a foundation until we graduate.

Even when you have broken it is nice to hang out with your high school friends and talk about the good old days. My point to you is to keep an open mind and to not get upset when high school friends have moved on and found their new friends from school just like you.

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Home is a COIN Show in Atlanta

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Indie pop band COIN is known for their ability to foster a sense of community in any city they step foot into. Their show in Atlanta was no exception, which was clear to any passerby near the Buckhead Theatre on Wednesday, February 6. A line of fans wrapped around the building as far as the eye could see - some had been there as early as 4 am. Lead singer Chase Lawrence was especially excited to be back in Atlanta. They played Buckhead Theatre a year earlier, but this time around, it was completely sold out.

Chase Lawrence in Atlanta

With the 2017 release of "Talk Too Much" from their most recent album, "How Will You Know If You Never Try," COIN began to rapidly gain popularity. Each single that followed proved their lyrical and musical talent. Following HWYKIYNT, COIN has been releasing newer singles, the most recent one being "I Want It All." This tour has been all about showing fans the meaning behind COIN's upbeat, indie-pop sound and helping people feel at home. The phrase "Home is a COIN show" is popular among their ever-growing fanbase. In Atlanta, COIN proved this phrase to be true. Four Atlanta fans spoke about how much this show meant to them.

Joe Memmel in Atlanta

How did you find out about COIN and what drew you to them originally?

Burnie Stone: I found "Fingers Crossed" on an 8tracks playlist back in late 2015, and I liked their sound so much that I looked them up on Youtube. Eventually, I just added their entire first album to my library, and then "Talk Too Much" dropped, and the rest was history.

Savannah Halberstadt: I found out about COIN when I saw them open for the 1975 in Knoxville a few years ago. Their energy on stage [was and still is] absolutely astonishing. I had never really fallen in love with an opening band before, but I completely did that day.

Chase Lawrence in Atlanta

What is it about COIN's music that made you continue to listen? What led them to becoming one of your favorite bands?

Brittney Clark: COIN has a sound that is very different than a lot of artists you hear today. Most of their music is very upbeat but their lyrics hold so much meaning.

Rachel Cummings: No other music has impacted me the way COIN's music has. It's hard to put into words, but their songs mean so much to me. Screaming lyrics I love as loud as I can is an indescribable feeling.

Burnie: I'm extremely picky with my music taste. If a song doesn't capture my attention within the first thirty seconds, I usually skip away, which is honestly kind of harsh on my part. But it was never like that with COIN; I was hooked from the very first note. Something about Chase's voice, and how it blends and layers so well over their beautiful instrumentals... it's hard to put into words. I'm never bored listening to their music, even if it's a song I don't particularly like—there's always something, a bassline or melody or a lyric, that makes me want to scream and sing along.

Chase Lawrence in Atlanta

How is a COIN show more meaningful from other concerts you've been to?

Burnie: I've never seen a band perform with the same energy COIN does. From the second the lights dim and their walk on music starts, to the very last note, it's mesmerizing. All four of them work so well on stage together, completely in sync and having the times of their lives. I live for the glimpses of Ryan's smile when he's playing drums, or when Joe laughs at everyone on barricade for making faces at him. Their passion is exuded through their music, and their performance. Not to mention the way Chase breaks down the boundaries that exist between the barricade and the stage, flinging himself at the audience every chance he gets. This sense of urgency he gives off, this sense of "this show isn't about me, it's about you, all of this is for you," I haven't found it anywhere else. There is no show like a COIN show.

Brittney: COIN never fails to bring a smile to my face during their performance. You can easily tell how happy they are to be on stage performing their music. Every show I've been to, I can easily say how they strive to make everyone feel loved and at home. There's always so much emotion and happiness that you can always feel throughout their performances.

Savannah: There is nothing like a COIN show. Everyone there is family and it really shows. Chase works so hard to make everyone feel so loved and appreciated. Chase is the kindest most incredible person I have ever met and that's a fact. I'm sure he is tired of hearing it by now but I genuinely mean it with every fiber of my being.

Chase Lawrence and Ryan Winnen in Atlanta

How do the band's fan interactions make you feel?

Burnie: Oh, I love them. It's my favorite part of the show. Chase is really good at making you fall in love with him: he dances and jumps across the stage, grabs fans hands and pushes the mic towards the crowd like we're the ones putting on the show. It's these little interactions that make me think of how much they care.

Rachel: The guys really do an incredible job of interacting with their fans. It means so much to me that they continue to come out after shows and talk to as many people as they can. It shows how much they truly care about all of us. They don't have to stay out there late talking to us; they want to and it's amazing.

Chase Lawrence in Atlanta

What is it about a COIN show that gives you a sense of community?

Brittney: The Atlanta show in particular really meant a lot to me. Over the past couple of months, I've been mentally struggling for a lot of different reasons. But getting to come to this show with my best friends and seeing COIN put on yet another incredible show, brings me so much happiness. I've realized how much COIN has truly changed my life for the better, and I'm so beyond thankful for that.

Savannah: A COIN show is home. It doesn't matter what happened that day or any other day - all that matters is that moment and the music.

Burnie: It's the people and our love for the band. There's this phrase that people like to throw around a lot, "home is a COIN show." If any other band were to try and use this phrase, it wouldn't work, and I would honestly snort and dismiss it. But for them, it works. It perfectly describes what it's like to be surrounded by your friends, celebrating the love you have for each other and the music being played. Those few hours I get to spend on barricade, laughing and singing at the top of my lungs, pressed shoulder to shoulder with the people I treasure more than anything else... there's nothing else like. Nothing at all.


COIN's Paradise of Thought tour continues until March 1st. If you missed them at a city near you, don't worry! This summer, they'll be hitting the road with Young the Giant and Fitz and the Tantrums. Buy tickets here.

Keep up with COIN on:

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For the full gallery of photos from this show, click here.

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