Ilana Armida is back with another soulful track straight from the heart. Unlike her previous track, "High No More," the LA-based singer, songwriter, and performer dived back into her R&B roots for "Good Together," which touches on the unhealthy basis of relationships on physical appearances, especially in pictures and on social media. With tasteful sarcasm, Ilana stands her ground and teaches listeners that not all relationships are as healthy as they seem in pictures.
Odyssey: When you produced "Good Together," was it similar to the way you produced "High No More" or any of your other singles?
Ilana Armida: "Good Together" was a late session, but it wasn't like "High No More." It was at BMG Studios with Allan Mattox, who was in the room for "High No More," as well as A Tripp. He actually has a Beyoncé placement, which is pretty crazy – he wrote on "Ring Off." We came in with zero ideas – I hadn't written a song in a while before this one because I just came home from a trip from Florida. The guys were like, "Do you have any ideas?" They looked at me almost in desperation.
It was funny because I didn't come into the session planning on this, but I'd had the "Good Together" concept brewing because I was just home with my mom, and we were talking about a relationship that I was in at the time. She asked if it was serious and I kind of brushed her off. She said, "Well, nonetheless, you guys look really good together. You're a good-looking couple." I thought that was hilarious because a few days before, I was with my boyfriend at the time and we were drinking, and he said we were kind of encouraging each other to drink more. And then we were like, oh my, we're probably so unhealthy for each other. But then we were like, hey, we looked good together in a picture. And we just laughed it off.
So, when I came into the session, I opened my notes on my ideas and literally the first thing that it said was "good together." I just kind of sang, "Damn, we look good together…" They were like, "Yo, that's so cool." Then, A Tripp started messing with some chords and some sounds. I think we knocked the sounding out in a couple of hours. We recorded it and did everything that night and had a demo. I just like finally came back to it, because I thought it would be too R&B for the following that I've just gained for the pop stuff. So, I kind of held onto and didn't really play it for a lot of people, but then I showed a bunch of music to my friends and the people whose opinions I valued, and they were like, "Yo, 'Good Together' should be the next one that comes out. It's super cool." And I was surprised – I mean, I love it. "Good Together" was my like little baby that I listened to all the time. But I was just surprised that my people really, really resonated with it, which is cool.
O: The R&B pop scene is for sure growing. I think "Good Together" is just similar enough to your other stuff that you'll be able to have a more diverse following, which is super important as an artist.
IA: It is. I'm not one-dimensional. I have so many different phases, personas, and moods that I go through. So, to just put out a poppy side of me would be cheating my fans and my following.
O: Right. Why would you want it to be a one-dimensional person, you know? Being able to show so many of your different sides makes you a lot more genuine. And that comes across in your music.
IA: Thank you! That's what I'm striving for. I don't ever want to only put on a song because I think is going to do well. I make music that I think is cool and makes me feel good. And I hope that it resonates with someone.
O: So, when you first came up with the "Good Together" idea that you were talking about, was it immediately an R&B sounding song in your head or did you think about it being more similar to your other stuff?
IA: I didn't have the R&B thing in mind originally, but my roots are in R&B. So, a lot of times when I'm writing, my melodies are very R&B. I try to switch it up sometimes and almost search for more pop melodies, but specifically working with A Tripp, his production has this urban style, so it kind of brings more of the R&B stuff out with me. So, I think the collaboration is what brought it out. I'm a 90's baby so I grew up listening to TLC, Boyz II Men, and Destiny's Child. R&B was on top of the world back then. I have a lot of that in what I make.
O: That's what inspired you to do what you're doing, right?
IA: Yeah, absolutely. The bands that I just said were classified as pop back then, but now if that came out would be classified as R&B, so really, it's both. Pop R&B is very much a nostalgic feeling for me and a lot of people my age.
O: So, you were talking about your inspiration for the song came from your mom when she was saying that at least you guys like look good together on pictures. Do you think living in LA for as long as you have influenced that kind of thought process?
IA: Oh yeah. It's living in LA and living in the time that we do now with social media, with how perfect everyone tries to make their lives seem. I genuinely do not care about the social media thing. Obviously, I would love to have a bigger following because it means that more people would be listening to my music, but I'd much rather have people following on Spotify. I hate that social media is such a big part of this [music] thing. So, "Good Together" is a little bit sarcastic, because, like, I'm joking, but for a lot of people, the most important thing to them is what their lives look like and how they look in these photos. The song is very much acknowledging how unhealthy and bad this is. Instagram isn't everything, but so many people think that way.
O: I'm really glad that like you're able to see past it. What you care about is the music and it's so evident.
IA: Good. That's awesome. I'm glad I come across that way, because for a while – before I was putting out music – my Instagram was literally just pictures that I thought I looked good in because my management and all my friends said I had to post every day. I love getting my picture taken, don't get me wrong. But the feeling that that's all I am, a cute girl, drives me insane. For a while, I think people thought I was just this dumb, kinda cute girl who sometimes did music. But now I'm very much trying to [tell people] I write songs and I own a company.
O: How do you think like that your past mindset on that has influenced your music? Like, wanting to be more than just a pretty girl on Instagram?
IA: I think it inspires a lot of the emotion behind what I'm singing about. A lot of my stuff is about relationships and the things I go through, I want my music and my persona to come across as genuine. If I'm angry that I'm the only girl in the [business] room and no one's taking me seriously, I'll probably write an angry song about a guy doing something in a relationship. You know, a lot of that translates over into how I feel. So, anytime there's a different emotion behind something in the music, it probably has a lot to do with me desperately trying to be me in every aspect of what I'm doing.
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