Rising: ILONA shares her tips for performing in public for the first time

Introducing another star performer as part of Ticketmaster Rising in association with Busk in London.

Originally from Bulgaria, but based in the UK for the past 10 years, ILONA has had a life that makes her unlike many others. Drawing on an influence that combines her passion for music and the ability to speak four languages, she’s full of natural star quality. Read the full interview here…

What artists do you look to for inspiration?

“Powerful lead vocalists with undeniable charisma and intention, like Prince, Stevie Nicks, Phil Collins and Shania Twain.”

What made you want to perform in public?

“A desire to share a personal story and to overcome my fears. I also loved and craved entertaining and performing.”

How do you prepare before a performance?

“Eating a light meal, a lot of water, and stretching works for me. I also warm up my vocals for 40 minutes before each show.”


Do you have any good luck charms that you have on you during a performance?

“I’ve been wearing a silver necklace with my initials, given to me as a gift from a friend from Russia, and it’s a special one to me – I’ve had it on for over three years at all of my gigs.”

Who did you look to for inspiration when starting out?

“The earliest memory I have is dressing up as a Spice Girl and putting on an improvised ‘tour’ for the neighbourhood (which almost always sold out, in candy bars). I was inspired by Sade, Lisa Stansfield, and ’80s rock bands later, and discovered a love for songwriting after listening to Sade’s heartbreaking, touching lyrics.”

Do you suffer from stage fright and where does your confidence for performing come from?

“I have learned to keep my stage fright under control now, although I still get overwhelmed and excited before most live shows. Confidence comes from realising you need to let go and commit to the moment, that you’re onstage to have fun, be happy, entertain and experience immense joy and satisfaction from performing. I feel that being fearless is my job as an artist at all times!”

How would you describe your sound in three words?

“Hot country rock!”


If you could tour with any act, who would it be?

“Someone I’ve admired for years who I can still learn so much from, like Bruce Springsteen. I would also love to tour with Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift!”

What is your dream venue to play?

“KOKO London is one of my favourites, Isle of Wight Festival too, and The O2 is on the dream list.”

Have you any top tips for busking and live performance in general?

“Relax, don’t have any expectations and be engaging with passers by; treat them like your friends and make them feel special. The more positive energy you give out, the more people will feel compelled to stop and listen. Once you see a crowd forming, let them in on your story a little, make them laugh, relate. You’ll soon see how rewarding busking can be as a direct, non-formal way of connecting with new fans.”

What was the first gig you attended?

“Eric Clapton at The Royal Albert Hall is my most powerful first memory of seeing one of the greats, live in action.”

What is the most recent gig you’ve attended?

“U2’s first show at The O2 – it was absolutely phenomenal!”

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