WHEN THE BOOMCAST TEAM STUMBLED UPON ILANA’S TWITTER PROFILE, WE WERE STRUCK BY HER BOLD DESCRIPTION OF: “MUSIC TO EMPOWER GIRLS.” WE IMMEDIATELY WANTED TO LEARN MORE. ILANA WAS ONE OF ROUGHLY 8 MILLION GIRLS IN THE US ALONE WHO HAVE SUFFERED FROM ANOREXIA. SHE ESCAPED TO HER LOVE AND PASSION FOR MUSIC AND NOW SHE’S EMPOWERING LIVES THROUGH HER JUST, GIRL. PROJECT. HERE IS HER STORY…
Music has always been a huge part of Ilana’s life. She listens to it constantly, writes her own songs, and has sang around the world. It has, and continues to be, instrumental to her identity.
Q: WHEN DID YOU FIND YOUR PASSION FOR MUSIC?
A: I started writing first. I started when I was practically in kindergarten! Singing came shortly after. I was a dancer and signed up for plays. When they figured out I could sing, I joined choirs and began performing.
While in high school, Ilana suffered from anorexia and depression. She turned to music to get her through it, as well as counseling. During her first two years of University, there was a two year period where she fell away from music. It was her therapist that encouraged her to do it again. Her best friend put her in the studio to record her first EP and she began promoting herself online to break into the music industry. She worked in electronic music with big names DJ’s, wrote and licensed music to networks such as Disney, ABC, and Showtime, and toured around the world, but she said, “I didn't feel fulfilled as an artist. I wanted to do more.”
Ilana then made the decision to switch to her first love, pop music, and funded her first solo EP, “Just, Girl.”. Having started her own digital branding company in 2011, “Nailed it! Media”, she knew how to navigate social media well and how to build a dedicated following. This journey provided her the opportunity to work for herself, build a fanbase, and therefore make music the way she wanted to. It became about far more than a monetary drive, and instead gave her a platform to make a difference.
While working on “Just, Girl”, Ilana reflected on not only her troubling teenage years, but also her current state. She found herself drawn towards topics different from most of the mainstream music industry. “It wasn’t about media or boys, it was more than that... things that I went through and things that I still go through everyday. I knew I had to be painfully blunt and talk about the uncomfortable things I’d hidden for so long...bullying, body image...everything you can imagine, it's in there.”
Q: WHAT INSPIRES YOU WHEN WRITING A SONG?
A: If I don't feel inspired, I look up quotes, lyrics, stories and poems...listen to music. The style of how people write and the metaphors they use inspire me. I also like imagery, colorful words, and being able to picture what’s happening. It’s about telling a compelling story that people can relate to, and then creating a fabulous pop hook, something that people will remember. I’ll be on a walk and one will pop in my head. It’s exciting!
Artists that inspire me are Beyonce, Paramore, Adele, Lana Del Rey, Bruno Mars, various indie artists, and so much more! I’m also a HUGE Taylor Swift fan! She’s a really good lyricist, and she draws from her own experiences--writing a lot of her songs all on her own. I am most inspired by the writers behind the pop stars.
Seeing as how her little sister related to her song, Ilana knew she wanted to do something more than just promote her music. She saw the potential music had to address difficult issues that girls could relate to in a commercial way. “I try to be super honest, and that’s not always pretty,” Ilana confessed, “I want to give girls the tools they need to love and embrace themselves.”
Using Indiegogo, Ilana began a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to launch and promote The Just, Girl. Project. The project is an art movement that uses the power of music to empower girls to embrace who they are. “I was really frustrated by the amount of sugarcoated material out there that’s really not doing its job,” she shared. “I stumbled upon a startling subculture of social media accounts devoted to pro-bulimia, pro-anorexia, and pro-self-harm. So many girls are finding comfort with these negative voices. I knew something had to change. There is a fine line when talking to young girls. Telling them to love themselves and their bodies doesn’t always work. The Just, Girl. Project is about being incredibly open. I want to talk about what’s really going on. So many young girls suffer from low self esteem and want to feel accepted by others and themselves! We need to give them something to relate to so that they can actually believe it when they say: “I love myself!”
Take for instance, her upcoming music video “My Body”. In it, Ilana bravely tackles the subject of eating disorders, which is something often avoided in mainstream music. “I always try to offer a lesson. I want to make people uncomfortable, but also inspire them. ” She wants to continue to build The Just, Girl. Project even further. “I want to make this something much bigger. I want to include dancers, artists, writers, and make it a more than a music movement,” she said. She has talked about launching an online store, building a foundation, and even a girl power record label, “I want to build an empire for myself, my nonprofit, my company, and my movement.”
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
A: Many of my friends are in the LA music industry as signed artists, making money, and doing great. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little jealous. But, I didn't devote my whole life to it like them, I created a business too to fund my passion and work for myself. I am inspired to build more than just my music career. I want my music and business to grow as a unit. I want to impact as many young girls as I can. I want to live a life of purpose.
"My goal is to make everything inspiring, philanthropic and lesson-driven. I want to teach young girls how to express themselves through art. Eventually I would love the opportunity to do a Ted Talk, win a Grammy, become a serial entrepreneur… but mostly, I just want to keep growing as a person, and embrace this crazy, beautiful journey."
Interested in learning more about The Just, Girl. Project? Check it out here.