Singer/Songwriter Ilona Europa?s unique sound of pop combined with rocktronica has landed her to features in Billboard Magazine, REMIX Magazine, Women Who Rock Magazine, EQ Magazine, and Best Magazine, to name a few. Her single “Live Forever” debuted at #66 on the Billboard Global Dance Traxx chart and her single, “Degree of Love” was licensed (along with numerous additional Europa tracks) for the blockbuster dance game HELIX which debuted on the NIintendo Wii system in the USA and is scheduled for International versions on Wii, Playstation and Xbox. Her single, “Because I Love You” remixed by Madonna and Seal favorite Josh Harris is enjoyed 10 weeks on the Soundworks Record Pool Chart. Ilona’s music is a mainstay feature in Abercrombie and Fitch and Adidas stores, and on CW TV and Playboy TV. Known for her singles, her latest full album release, “EURO-CIZE, By ILONA EUROPA,” is currently available world- wide on CD and is available for download globally through every digital music store. Ilona Europa also holds an agency position as talent agent for the prestigious VOX agency in Los Angeles, California, and is a music producer and corespondent for CWG Music Magazine. Ilona is the only named vocalist ever to provide a professional loop library for SONY?s Acid Loop libraries – ILONA: Universal Female Vocal Toolkit, and she was called on by Sony to support their CineScore Film Library with her vocals.
Maximum Ink: What was it like when you first knew you wanted to be a musician?
Ilona Europa: I remember this day very well. I was maybe 7 years old. It was a very cold winter early morning. My father woke me up for school and the radio played one song after another that I loved. I closed my eyes and saw myself on the stage singing with all the singers, I was listening too. 15 years later I was singing with them professionally in many shows and tours. I believe in the power of visualization of your dreams and always say - what is important is not the goal but the journey to get there. Of course I was studying music ‘till I was 23 and finished the Music Academy with a Bachelor’s degree in vocals. I also won many talent festivals and toured the world singing with bands and orchestras.
MI: Who where some of you biggest influences?
IE: You will never believe it but I was crazy for Tom Jones and Billy Joel. The Billy Joel song “Honesty” till this day is my fav. I loved the Carpenters and Edith Piaf too. Today I really enjoy Fergie, Gwen Stefani, Cher, Beyonce and Usher. Generally I love big voices.
MI: What genres of music are your favorites?
IE: I am all about pop, rock, dance and electronica. I created the term ROCKTRONICA for my show with Josh Harris and debuted it at Hollywood and Vine!
MI: How does the music industry in Poland differ most from the one here in the US? What is it like to have so much of your work getting airplay in
your homeland? What led you to pursue your career in the states?
IE: I do not see too many differences between the two markets. It’s very hard to break into the music business everywhere. Talent is not enough, friendships and the help of many are necessary. But in Europe fans are more attached to theirs stars. You can get older with your fans and they will not betray you as easily as in the US these days. Also - in Europe, music education still matters. It’s nice to come back to your country and hear your own songs and music on radio or TV but live shows are what I long for the most. Also, I remember one day coming to my husband with revelations of me wanting to go back to singing after a long absence. I scared him to death. He knew I was serious but all the odds were against me.
I just start dreaming about recording in the US and I found the way to meet people who opened doors for me to their studios. My first break came from Mike Francik who composed and produced the Lionel Ritchie hit, “Dancing on the Ceiling.” Soon I recorded a few albums and signed a contract with Sony for the sample library (Loop Library) called “Ilona: Universal Female Vocal Toolkit.” It is, to this day, one of the most sold loop libraries in the world and in the top 10 for Sony.
MI: What led you to release the album Wonderful Feeling? Are you a fan of the 80’s music culture? Why?
IE: I love “80’s” who doesn’t. Writing “Wonderful Feelings” freed me from my own worries at the time. I spoke English with “heavy accent,” I was insecure. but I knew I needed to do it. I always will like this album. I cried so many tears and fought so many fights trying to create an album outside my native language. What was once so easy for me (singing in Polish) was now very difficult. The second time around was painful. Also, this album pushed me to write my own songs for the first time and find a producer who believed in my work. This became Michael Summ from Germany. I learned to sing all over again in English but some words were impossible for me to pronounce. To this day I have cold sweats thinking about the words “mountain” and “river”. You will never hear them in my lyrics. Lol.
MI: What was it like to have your album supplied by the tens of thousands to clubs all over the US?
IE: Ah, that’s my Dance Fame Album. My Love for dance music and DJ’s work was “carved into me” after many contracts abroad where I was singing for months in hot European clubs. I love to sing dance songs. I love to see people to have a good time and fall in love on the dance floor. I understand and admire DJ’s talents. They can create a mood on the floor instantly and bring hear-beats to a boil. What a power. To be able to place my song “Live Forever” on the Global Billboard Dance Charts was a dream come true.
MI: How did it feel to be chosen by Sony in 2002 to be their first solo vocal library?
IE: I thought if I will never do anything more in music in the US I could die happy. This was a grueling week of my life. I needed to deliver perfection in sound, pitch and creativity using my voice. I am a well trained singer so I gave all that my voice could do in the hands of producers and arrangers and buyers of my loop library. I am very proud of this project and remember how happy I was recording 100’s of vocal loops.
MI: Do you find that music industry treats women any differently from men in the current era?
IE: No, I do not believe in problems like that. Sometimes I think ladies have it easier. I am a fighter and I have a great attitude towards life. I am not worried to fail. I am worried to not get the chance to try. Being a woman is an honor and having a chance to be part of this industry makes me proud. I also have finally stopped worrying about my age. (I think ........) Women-power is undeniable. It is hard to say “no” to beauty.
MI: What advice would you offer aspiring vocalists that want to obtain a higher octave range?
IE: I think Singing is “Talking with Music”. If you can scream loud and high, laugh high, talk to your child or dog in high pitch of your voice you can use these sounds in your singing. I am developing a lot of new talent through the years. I am very good at getting them to sing better quickly. We tend to spend the most time during coaching, working on honest interpretations, and comfort of singing. I spend a lot of time trying to get my students to understand that singing is entertaining and you have to really have fun doing it. Some of my students have gone on to TV and film, some are singing live on stage and are recording albums and some are finishing music education in schools including Julliard and Loyola. We are all giving a lot of our time to sing for charities.
MI: What projects are you currently working on? Where can fans go for the latest information on your career?
IE: I am getting ready to write my first advice book for young singers. I am so exited about next year. I am ready with my new album”Rocktronica” produced by Josh Harris (who also produces and remixes stars including Madonna, Cher, Seal, Killers, Beyonce) and Dan Solovitz (who creates the music for incredible brands including Porsche, Converse, Ameritrade, Target) I am touring in my country, Poland, also releasing my new single there. I’ll be appearing in the US supporting my new single for US dance Radio called, “Eternal Kiss” My daughter, Natasha Mira Todd, is singing in my show with me and we are working on her first album. Another singer I have developed and continue to coach is Hayley Sara Knight, who just finished her first album. We co-wrote this together.
Finally, I was just featured in a book about “successful self starters” by Dr. Julie Miller. It’s called, “Secrets of Self-Starters” and is really upbeat and full of advice for people who want to start their own projects or turn their dreams into something real. Only 48 people were interviewed and I am honored to be included in this book. You can see it at: Amazon.com
You can hear ILONA EUROPA samples at iTunes.(4096) Page Views ILONA EUROPA Online:
CD: Live Forever Record Label: Sabre Entertainment Records
• Download Live Forever on Amazon