IlLIRA is a Swiss sensation, taking the world by storm with her bold pop songs. As she continues to build up momentum, we had a chat with her about the new single and her TV-show-origins.
The new single, ‘Diablo’ is a song about physical and emotional abuse. Where did this idea come from?
I used to date a guy who didn’t treat me well at all. One day, as I was about to leave his house, his grandma walked up to me who only spoke Spanish, gave me a hug and whispered into my ear “Diablo, Diablo!“ She warned me about her own grandson. That incident fuelled the inspiration for wanting to write this song, and it’s been a liberating process to get it all out of my system.
Can we talk about your upbringing, the moving around, the clashing cultures – how has this shaped you as an artist do you feel?
I grew up with Kosovo-Albanian parents in a small town in Switzerland where basically nothing ever happens. As a third culture kid, I’ve often felt misplaced with people mocking me for my dreams and aspirations. Music has been my safe haven ever since. It created a space for me where I was able to be my true authentic self and grow. Cultural aspects as well as countless of negative experiences with failed relationships have shaped me into the artist that I am today.
You cite Nirvana and Rihanna as influences, quite the contrast – both of these artists had, or have an attitude, a determination to stay themselves and say whatever they want, would you say this an important quality to have as a musician?
Definitely, yes. I’ve had a middle-finger-wagging attitude my whole life that got me into a lot of trouble. At the same time, it taught me perseverance and the ability to pick myself up after failing. It’s important to follow your passion regardless of how many obstacles stand in your way.
How important is the aesthetic side of music to you and what inspires that part of you?
Aesthetic and art go hand in hand for me. I’ve always had a vision of what I wanted my aesthetic to be as an artist, but it was never something I sat down to strategically come up with. It just evolved naturally over time. My sound and my outfits speak the same language to me, they both decipher who I am as an artist.
You started on TV talent shows right?
There was a time in my life I felt helpless and depressed because I had made it to the final of a local talent show, but I didn’t win. Little did I know that every door that closes, opens a little window with a new opportunity. Looking back, it was the best thing that happened to me because it taught me important lessons of resilience.
You’ve been on a run of good singles, momentum is building, what can we expect from you the rest of this year?
The past year has been incredibly rewarding due to the unwavering support I’ve been getting praise from everyone for my music. I’ve been fortunate enough to release a lot of songs, shoot videos for them all over the wold, I did writing sessions from London to LA, and started giving concerts. The rest of the year is packed with more concerts such as Lollapalooza in Berlin, more writing and even more releases.