Ylona Garcia moves to the US for music career

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Ylona Garcia moves to the US for music career
2022 is off to a good start for the Filipino-Australian singer-songwriter. Ylona just released her first single for the new year, Entertain Me, under Paradise Rising/88rising Music.

MANILA, Philippines — After five years, Ylona Garcia left the country in 2020 to return to her hometown in Australia.

The move back home might have led some fans to think the 19-year-old singer-songwriter was opting out of a career in showbiz. At one point, the former Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) first runner-up went viral over photos of herself taking on a job at a popular fast food chain. But contrary perhaps to the perception of some, she wasn’t leaving the industry behind, let alone quitting on her music goals.

In a recent interview with the press, Ylona disclosed she has since relocated to Los Angeles in the US and “I am staying here for good.”

She told The STAR: “The reason why I moved to the US is because I want to start my career. Well, it’s always been my goal ever since I was young. Somehow, a part of me knew that I’d always end up here. Only because it was my goal. It’s always been a dream of mine.”

Ylona said the decision to base herself in L.A. happened even before she signed up with Paradise Rising — the sister label of the US-headquartered pan-Asian media company 88rising — which is dedicated to establishing and promoting Filipino artists globally and in partnership with Globe.

“I went to Los Angeles quite a few times and started creating songs, then started meeting a lot of cool people. And then, I ended up signing with 88rising,” shared Ylona who under her new label was able to drop two singles last year — All That and Don’t Go Changing.

Before 2021 closed out, she was included in the artist lineup at 88rising’s annual Asian music music festival, Head in the Clouds, in California, joining the likes of Fil-Am rap star Saweetie and Korean-American musician Japanese Breakfast.

2022 is off to a good start for the Fil-Aussie artist. When The STAR had the chance to catch up with Ylona, she just released her first single for the new year, Entertain Me, still under Paradise Rising/88rising Music.

Produced by DNA and written by Ylona herself together with David Musumeci and Antonio Egizii, Entertain Me is an anthemic synth-pop number about girl power. With a soaring backbeat and a chorus that could send you looking for a dancefloor, Ylona sings about asserting independence and taking control over her life.

Most noteworthy about this single is that its release coincided with the launch of a new playable character in Riot Games’ wildly-popular video game, Valorant. The new character is named Neon, who in teasers has been described as hailing from Manila, speaks Tagalog and is one of the youngest agents “who can outpace the rest of the roster, shocking the competition, and sliding straight into the fight.”

Meanwhile, the music video for Entertain Me now has two million views following its YouTube premiere last Jan. 11. Ylona said of the music video and the collab with Valorant: “It was nice to put myself and be like in a sort of character when I performed Entertain Me. When I made that song, I felt really, really cool. And Valorant thought that would be a great match to Neon. So, I felt very, very honored by that. But Neon is very cool. Very opposite to how I feel about myself sometimes, but it’s okay. She’s somebody that I want to be.” Here are more excerpts from the virtual chat with Ylona.

On starting a music career in the US:

“First of all, starting from scratch feels, at times, difficult, but at the same time, it feels really, really nice. Because this is something that I’ve always wanted ever since I was younger. So I feel very, very happy with where I am now.

“I don’t think there was ever a moment where I wanted to stop pursuing music but, you know, I don’t think moving to any country would ever stop that… During the lockdown, I worked in McDonald’s, that was more of something that I have always wanted to do. And I decided, you know what, let’s do it while I have time, okay, but I never wanted to stop the music.”

On the inspiration and message behind entertain me:

“So, this song was created during lockdown back in Australia. To be specific, it was created last 2021, Feb. 10 at 7:54 p.m. Basically, I was blessed with a chance to be able to catch up with my childhood friends in Sydney, Australia. And in catching up with them, we were sharing stories. And I found one thing in common about each of the stories, which was basically feeling like you’re not given a chance, you know? I was still 18, and that age — you know, we’re all the same age — it just felt like a time where we were supposed to be an adult, feeling independent, feeling strong, but we didn’t feel like that at all. Which is really, really, really sad. Therefore, I ended up writing the song Entertain Me. It’s about a person who basically plays by their own rules.

“My expectations back then when I was making the song was just to create an overall character with the essence of just being absolutely confident, 100 percent, with yourself. I mean like, it’s something that I absolutely aspire to, and I hope that it comforts me, kind of reminds me every day to be vocal about how I feel, to be confident with who I am. I hope that people across the globe will be able to get that message.”

On how she got into songwriting:

“I think this was during my stay at the PBB house (in 2015). Yeah, because I wrote the song Win The Fight there, one of the first songs that I’ve ever written. And then, I also wrote My Name is Ylona Garcia album (2016). I wrote quite a few songs and it was just, honestly, out of boredom. But it was a lot of fun. So, that’s when I kind of realize that this could actually be a lot of fun, to the point where I can actually pursue this as a career. And it can still be fun.”

On what’s next for Ylona:

“That is an interesting question. Well, my goals would be to get into acting, so I guess that’s what’s next for Ylona Garcia. Also to put out an album. To also give my family a house. I have promised them one ever since I started my whole career in the Philippines. That was one of my goals.”

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