We caught up with Lilianna to talk about the first single “Movin’ On” from her upcoming EP titled wildeONE. “Movin’ On” is an R&B influenced pop track co-written and produced by vocal coach Nick Cooper. The video for the song can be seen on You Tube Movin’ On.
I watched the video for your song “Movin’ On” and I have to say that the message was really empowering. What was your inspiration for the song?
I have a co-writer on that song and we had written another song together called “Surrender”. While we were writing “Surrender” we started talking about where we were in our lives and what we had been through, it was almost a year ago now, and I think we were both at that point where we felt we had to move on from something. For me particularly, it was a relationship. It wasn’t all bad, you know it’s hard to leave something that has some good memories too, and we wrote the song just based on where we were that last year.
I think that the video does a really good job of showing that making the decision to leave isn’t an easy one. That the person moving on can be torn between staying and leaving.
Yeah, it does. I think that with anything whether it’s a job, a relationship or a city, anything that’s holding you back, that there are still parts of it that are good, that you do like. I think that history has a way of being a little romantic and you start glamorizing all the good stuff which can make that decision even more difficult to make.
Absolutely! Additionally, it occurred to me as I watched and listened to the song, that there are times that you have to move on not from anything necessarily bad, but just in order to grow. It really covers such a broad range of situations and feelings. The song is really well done.
Thank you! I appreciate you saying that.
So, moving on (laughs), I read your LinkedIn page and …
Oh my gosh, that’s so great! I’ve never had anyone go to my LinkedIn and I’ve done lots of other things before this.
You really do have a broad base of experience in the entertainment industry, will you elaborate a little on some of that?
Yeah, I didn’t initially come out to LA for music. I did my degree at home, I thought I was going to work in finance, but once I got my college degree, I was a little bit bored and I knew I wasn’t passionate about it and so that’s when I decided to move to LA.
I’ve always been a writer, that’s where I feel the most at home, so I went to film school thinking that I was going to write scripts. I worked a little bit in film, I did a little bit of acting, a little be of hosting trying to find myself. While working, I had a script that needed a little bit of music and I didn’t realize how hard it was to clear music rights for film and I thought, ‘I wrote this script, I’ll just write the music’. I wrote the music, recruited some friends to play while I sang it – no one else wanted to sing – and then from there, all the doors started opening in songwriting. I just sort of stumbled into it.
That is a really cool story! One of the questions I had planned to ask was whether you found music or music found you and I guess I have the answer. All the experience you gained prior to writing your first song is certainly going to give you a strong base from which to draw inspiration for your music.
For a long time, I thought it might be a hindrance since most people in music are like, “I wanted to be a musician since I was four years old and I’ve always wanted to do this”. I thought, I wish I had gotten into music sooner, but you really just have to remember that your journey is different from everybody else’s and I don’t know if my songwriting would be as strong if I was worried about writing songs for all those 24 years. I try to just live life and experience it. I have always used diaries and journaled and I think I’ve just recently come to a place where I’m comfortable.
I think it’s great that you’ve found your place, your voice so to speak and I honestly think that your industry experience will help you as you move forward with your career in terms of the business side as well as the performance side.
I danced most of my life, so art was always a part of my life and the writing has always been there as well, but for sure music found a way to get to me. I wasn’t looking for it…you that advice that people always give you, ‘stop looking and it come will find you’. (laughter)
One of my other questions to you was going to be about the inspiration for ‘Movin’ On’ (laughs), which of course you’ve answered. I would like to share with you what one of the other writers at Talk Nerdy With Us said about the song. Her name is Erica Schaaf and she said that the song, “is the very epitome of showing how a woman can be soft and feminine while also being strong and determined”. I think she really hit the nail on the head.
Thank you for sharing that! It gave me goosebumps! That is really so nice that she said that. That’s so nice that you use journalism as a collaborative process too. When you do that in music, the song can take on a whole new life. Sometimes I’ll have written a song in my bedroom and I show it to someone else and then they breathe into it something brand new that takes it to this whole other place. I think that collaboration is so important for any sort of creative writing.
You’ve said that “Movin’ On” was inspired by a break up. Will you share with me where else you’ve found inspiration for your songs?
I think that generally I’m so bad at relationships (giggles), so that’s probably the main source of my music. I like to write about my parents as well. I have like three or four songs that I’ve written or my dad. Sort of anything can be inspirational.
I go to this bookstore in LA a lot called The Last Bookstore, which is one of the last independent bookstores and they have this top-level where all the books are arranged by the color of the book and all the books are a dollar. I go with whatever color I’m feeling that day and just look at the titles or pick up a book and turn to random pages and try to come up with songs based off that sentence or that title creating a story from that one moment. Most of the time though it’s based on real life experiences and whenever I feel something or have a conversation, it can become a song.
I think, I really think, that if you’re looking for inspiration it’s just kind of everywhere and that you’ve just got to keep your eyes open to what’s out there. I eavesdrop a lot…. oh, maybe I shouldn’t have said that, but other people’s stories are just so interesting. The way that other people process and experience things is just so different, even when it’s the same experience you’ve been through. I’ve found talking to people is a great way to write songs too. Some of my favorite songs, the ones that feel really personal to me are the ones that are really true to life and are about something that I’ve moved through.
You’ve told me you’ve danced most of your life and did some work in finance, now of course you’re a singer-songwriter, if I asked five-year-old Lilianna what she wanted to be when she grew up, what would her answer be?
I think it would have been a dancer, yeah, a dancer on Broadway. It’s interesting that I’m kind of ending up really close to that 5-year old’s dream, which I’ve never thought about before. Thanks for asking that question.
What instruments do you play?
I play a little bit of guitar and piano, but I just started music a couple of years ago so I’ve really just picked up the instruments. There are way too many more talented people to call myself (garbled recording).
So when you write songs are you writing just lyrics or are you writing both music and lyrics?
I write lyrics and the melody and bring in other instrumentalists to really take the song to the next level.
Are you going to continue learning to play guitar and piano?
Yeah, but sometimes I get too distracted when I’m teaching myself guitar and I end up writing a new song. (laughter) I have to make myself stay focused on my guitar lessons instead of going off on a tangent.
Have you already been performing in the LA area?
Yes, I’ve gotten to play some really cool venues, which is great. I did House of Blues a few nights ago, it’s so nice to be on that stage. There’s another big one here as well called The Avalon. In the new year, definitely, we’ve got a pretty strong collection of songs and now that we’ve got that ready so that come February and March we should really start gigging around LA locally.
Are you comfortable on stage?
Yeah, that’s where I feel the most comfortable…. ever. Sometimes in interviews I get so nervous and even sometimes in studios I get nervous, but on stage it feels like home.
I asked you what you wanted to do at age 5, so now I want to ask you where you see yourself in five years? Where would you like to be?
Oh wow, I think… you know when I think about myself five years ago, I would have never imagined myself here. Five years ago I would have said I would be working on Wall Street in finance. So five years from now, if I’m still the person I am today, I would love to be on tour. Opening for someone or on my own tour and just writing.
I love writing for myself and for other people. So if I could just continue writing songs and performing every couple of days on a tour, that would be amazing – that would be ideal. I think having a destination in mind is nice to keep you working and then just keeping open to wherever (the road) leads.
Changing direction, if you could change one thing in your life up to this point, what would it be?
You know, I think I’ve gotten to a point where I probably wouldn’t change anything. I think my answer would have been very different six months ago. I think I would have had a laundry list of things, but it wouldn’t have gotten me here. Of course you know that we all go through things that we wish we didn’t have to go through or wish we had found the journey a little sooner, but I think then I wouldn’t be right here and right here is pretty cool. So I just want to keep it all the same, maybe someday I’d want to redo it all again.
There’s an awfully lot of wisdom in what you just said. Some people live their entire lives and never get to the point you are at right now. I’m impressed. In fact, I think that we can take this back to your song “Movin’ On”, I think that sometimes women put so much emphasis on being in a relationship and taking their identity from the relationship that they forget about themselves and don’t realize the empowerment that one feels when moving on from a relationship or situation that isn’t perfect.
Right! There is so much value that society has placed on being someone’s other half instead of being your full self – especially for women. A lot of my friends are starting to get married and settled down and all of that and you can feel like you need to rush it and possibly end up with someone who’s maybe not who you would have chosen if you didn’t feel pressured.
The video for your song depicts a woman who seems to suddenly realize, “I am so much more than this, I want so much more than this and I can get it.” Hopefully other women, other girls will see this, hear this and think, ‘if she could do that, then so could I’.
That would make me so happy because I think, especially for 12, 13 or 14-year-old girls. Music did that for me and it empowered me so much and was so important to my growth as a teenager, so if my songs could do that for another little girl, I would feel completely fulfilled. Even if it was just one girl thinking, ‘I feel good, I feel strong’ it would be amazing.
As you know, the site is Talk Nerdy With Us and we truly are a bunch of nerds who get excited about music, books, TV, movies and pop culture. With that in mind, I want to ask you what you think is the nerdiest thing you’ve ever done?
I always really loved school and really loved going to class. All through elementary school I was a mathlete and part of the science team and all of that stuff. I think I may have lost it a little when I found music but… oh that’s tough. I think I’m also just quirky and weird in my everyday life, like I talk in cartoon voices a lot of the time. (laughter) Sometimes when I’m singing in the booth I’ll just start singing like a Disney princess (more laughing), so I think that’s probably it. I even do this with people I don’t know that well, I’ll just start talking in weird voices.
That’s great, I love it! I want to mention that, interestingly enough, music and mathematics use the same part of the brain and are very connected.
Yeah, there is so much similarity between the two and I think people tend to separate them. When you’re listening to a song and it feels right, there’s an equation to that. So I think the math background really helped me because when I do write, I write with a lot of structure and I find that there is freedom in that structure.
Thank you so much for sharing that with us, it is a really great insight into how you feel about your music, your talent. I have just one more question and it’s a fun one, what is your favorite Christmas or holiday song?
Oh gosh, I love them all. I probably love holiday music too much! I think I start playing holiday music November 1st, way, way before Thanksgiving. I think right now I would have to say it’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” because I’ve been away for four years and it’s very nostalgic. I always go home at Christmas time to see my family.