First came the makeup artists and hair stylists, then the sparkly costumes, and finally, the cue to step onto the stage. Standing in front of thousands of people, her nerves a mess, Ilaria Mangiardi did what she loves most, she sang. Her nervousness melted away and by the time the song was over, she could have stayed on the Eurovision stage for hours.
Though she wasn’t the main performer at the Swiss finals of the Eurovision song contest (she sang backup vocals for Scilla) the opportunity was still one of the highlights of Ilaria’s life as a singer and music lover and she remembers the experience fondly. “I don’t care if it’s 10 or 10,000 people, I just sing and I feel good,” she says.
For the somewhat shy girl who grew up in a small town 20 minutes away from Milan, it was a big step and one that represented how far she’s come since she first started singing to herself as a child.
As she grew older, her passion for music lead her to take parts in school plays and choirs and to finally study for six years at voice academies in Milan, Italy. It was there that she learned about ear-training and stage presence.
Previous to that she took dance classes that introduced her to the music of singer, Aaliyah. Outside of classes Ilaria searched for her albums and discovered many others like Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Gloria Gaynor, Stevie Wonder and Ella Fitzgerald. Thus she developed a taste for what would become her favorite genres of music, R&B and soul music. “It’s smooth and it gives you energy and power,” said Ilaria with passion.
Eventually, Ilaria joined a hip-hop and R&B band and together they recorded an album with beats produced by then unknown rappers who are now famous and well respected. And she continued to pursue music as a career.
But it was difficult answering to those who constantly questioned her choice to be a professional singer and Ilaria decided to study something more practical in university, Foreign Languages, Marketing and Communications. Applying her marketing skills to music, she began writing a music blog with advice for singers and musicians to promote themselves online and interviews with famous musicians.
As she learned the languages and cultures of other countries (English, Spanish, French and Arabic), it began to seem paradoxical to Ilaria that she’d never lived anywhere but her small Milan suburb. So, following her studies, she decided to move abroad. London seemed like the obvious choice being such a large city, full of life and culture. It was too predictable though, everyone went to London, Ilaria wanted to do something different. Then she remembered her few friends in Amsterdam and decided to pay them a visit.
After just a few days, she was hooked, she fell in love with the kindness of the people and the relaxed way of life, smiling and not in a rush, unlike Milan. So she took a job at an advertising company and kept up the music blog she had started some years ago. Noticed by Peugeot Italia, she was asked to write some posts for their women’s blog called Girlitude. For her section of the blog, dubbed Girlitunes, she’s written articles about performance art in Amsterdam, how to become a YouTube star and the history of women in hip-hop.
Now, as she looks for new jobs in Amsterdam she’s using her about.me page in interviews and on her résumé and finds that people are always impressed by her page (much as she was when she first discovered about.me through a friend’s page) and ask her about her recently recorded songs under her stage name of Jardi and her music blog.
Since she works from home on her various projects, including an ebook to help musicians and singers promote themselves online, we also asked her to tells us a bit about that project and her workspace or deskie which she posted a few weeks ago.
Describe your deskie, what’s on it and why?
I’m working from home so my desk changes from either a cafe or my kitchen table. But there are common items always on my desk, chocolate, which is important for energy, notes, a cup of coffee, my laptop and sometimes my ipad. It varies, but it’s pretty simple and always really colorful. That helps keep me motivated through the day since sometimes it’s hard to work from home, not talking to anyone so there’s a bit of color to my desk to help me to stay focused and motivated.
Can you give us a few tips from your ebook for musicians and singers?
In it I recommend that musicians or singers promoting themselves online focus on just a few social media sites and growing a following there, instead of being on a ton of platforms at once. YouTube is a great place to show off your music as it’s democratic, anyone can post and be discovered there (more tips in her ebook on her blog). And if you don’t have a lot of time, about.me is a great place to merge them all together.
Eliana Arredondo is the Community Manager for about.me. She is a graduate of Stanford University.