Out of curiosity, I asked her what she would be in an alternate world. After a thoughtful pause, she responds, “You know, I don’t want to imagine my life in another way. I think that kind of means that I’m just doubting what I have right now. I really just want to be an artist.”
Such clarity is rare for someone her age. Teenage years are often marked with uncertainty and, on some level, an aversion to planning the future. Then again, who said Ylona was a typical teenager?
Adolescence under the critical eye of the media can snuff out the highest of teenage ambition. An unfortunate occupational hazard of the industry is being vulnerable to uncalled-for ridicule and discrimination, and it almost swept Ylona with its current once upon a time.
In 2018, a barrage of negative messages affected the young star’s mental health, which resulted in hospitalization. She shared a post on Twitter urging everyone to stay in tune with their state of mind and, at the very least, be kind on the internet. “I forgot about myself,” she wrote, and used the experience as a lesson to her followers.
These days, Ylona focuses on herself as much as she does on dreams. “At the end of the day, when I self-reflect, I always try to make sure that I’m mentally, physically, and emotionally okay with everything. [That] I’m aligned,” she says. She’s more selective of projects she takes, and the future is now all about putting out work that she genuinely wants. And finally, she’s coming back to music.
Ylona released three singles in 2019, which was preceded only by her 2016 debut “My Name Is Ylona Garcia.” Since dabbling in different genres with her debut record, from acoustic ballad “Stop Think” to funky pop “Not Yo Bae,” she’s now steering her sound towards R&B. “I always knew that my heart belonged to R&B, soul, pop,” she says. “Now, I feel a little more confident on where I want my music to flow.”
Ylona’s love for music is beyond doubt. She perks up at the topic of inspirations, rattling off her current favorites: Billie Eilish, Jessie Reyez, Ruel. As I begin to ask my next question, she cuts me off with an excited “Oh!” and adds Joyner Lucas and, unexpectedly, classical music to the list.
“There’s so much passion in classical music without even speaking. It makes you think that life is actually beautiful,” she muses. During the course of our conversation, I noticed how Ylona often went into little soliloquies. On the topic of values, she whips out her phone to read out jottings on her Notes app—a true child of her generation.