Colombian Singer Ilona Joins Carlos Vives’ Label to Transform Rock and Pop

Ilona, a three-time Latin Grammy nominee, embarks on a new journey with Carlos Vives’ label, Gaira Música Local, to challenge conventional rock and pop music norms.

Colombian singer Ilona, a three-time Latin Grammy nominee, has been signed by Carlos Vives’ music label, Gaira Música Local. Known for her unique voice and heartfelt lyrics, Ilona aims to break established norms in the rock and pop music scene. In an interview, she shared her excitement about this new chapter in her career and her intention to challenge the current trends in the music industry.

Ilona, whose real name is Magda Liliana Castillo, is a 39-year-old singer and songwriter from Bogotá. Her musical journey began in the most humble of settings—singing on the buses of the Colombian capital. Reflecting on her early days, she recalls her first record deal with EMI Music Colombia with great affection, as they were the first to believe in her talent.

Ilona embarked on a new adventure with Carlos Vives, one of Colombia’s most iconic musicians, this month. “Carlos is not just a great friend on a personal level, but also a true friend in music,” Ilona said, noting that she met Vives 18 years ago when she was starting. She praised Vives for his faith and sensitivity in appreciating local music, which has been a significant part of her motivation.

Ilona is promoting her new EP, “Relatos de Calle,” which she describes as a common ground for all her listeners to connect with her music. “Bogotá is a source of inspiration for me because it has so many stories to tell,” she shared. The six songs on the EP offer a glimpse into her upcoming full album, set for release in 2025, which will feature 13 tracks exploring themes that ground listeners in reality.

Breaking the Mold in Music

Ilona’s new partnership with Gaira Música Local comes with a mission to disrupt the conventional norms of the music industry. “For artists like us who do rock and pop and propose ideas that differ from the current trend of hypersexualization in music, the key is to remain constant and true to our convictions,” Ilona explained.

Her new EP, “Relatos de Calle,” is a testament to her commitment to authenticity. The tracks are profoundly personal and aim to resonate with listeners profoundly. Ilona believes music should reflect genuine human experiences rather than conform to commercial pressures. Her collaboration with Vives is a step towards maintaining artistic integrity while reaching a broader audience.

Ilona’s approach is particularly significant in the Latin American music scene, where trends often shift rapidly. By staying true to her roots and focusing on meaningful content, she hopes to inspire other artists to do the same. Her work with Gaira Música Local is not just about producing music; it’s about setting a new standard for what Latin American rock and pop can be.

Music as Healing

One of the most personal tracks on her new EP is “Te amo,” a song born from deep grief. Ilona wrote it after the devastating loss of her daughter, who passed away at just three years old. “I was a teenage mother, and ‘Te amo’ was a vital catharsis for me,” she explained. Writing the song was emotional, and she often couldn’t finish singing it without crying. “I wrote it with my soul breaking into pieces,” she said.

However, over time, Ilona reached a point where she could sing the entire song without crying. She decided to release it to the world to help others heal and understand death as a part of life. “We are light despite our losses,” she affirmed. She hopes that the song will provide comfort and support to those dealing with their grief.

Ilona’s willingness to share such a personal experience is a powerful reminder of the therapeutic potential of music. By transforming her pain into art, she offers a space for listeners to process their emotions. This vulnerability is a cornerstone of her music, making her work resonate profoundly with fans.

A New Chapter with Carlos Vives

Looking ahead, Ilona is eager to continue her journey with Carlos Vives. She expressed her desire to collaborate with him, seeing it as a personal milestone in this new career phase. “I believe it’s a debt to myself in this new stage where we are both fulfilling dreams,” she said.

In August, Ilona will present her EP on the stages of Bogotá, but she hopes to soon bring her music to other parts of the country. Her live performances are an extension of her artistic vision, offering her audience an intimate and authentic experience. Through her music and performances, she aims to create a genuine connection with her listeners, reflecting Latin America’s diverse and vibrant culture.

Ilona’s journey from singing on buses to joining one of Colombia’s most prestigious music labels is a testament to her talent, resilience, and commitment to her craft. Her collaboration with Carlos Vives marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the Latin American music scene, not just for her.

Ilona’s partnership with Carlos Vives’ Gaira Música Local is set to make waves in the rock and pop music scene. With her new EP, “Relatos de Calle,” she continues to break conventional norms and stay true to her artistic vision. Her deeply personal and authentic approach to music offers a refreshing perspective in an industry often driven by trends.

Also read: Colombia Moves to Ban Bullfighting After Decade-Long Struggle

As Ilona prepares to share her new work with the world, she remains committed to her roots and the stories that inspire her. Her journey is a powerful reminder of the transformative power of music and the importance of staying true to one’s convictions. With Carlos Vives’ support and her unwavering dedication, Ilona is poised to make a lasting impact on the Latin American music landscape.

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