Today we are excited to feature the alternative indie rock band Ilona Mahieu that’s based in the UK. Consisting of the four musicians Ilona Pointeau, Jack Williams, Mark Fifield and Emma Taylor the band originally started out being front singer Ilona Pointeau’s solo project until she decided to evolve her sound and began rearranging her tracks with the band. Ilona Mahieu have already been featured on BBC Introducing and played several festivals and with their newest track ‘Stiletto’ we are confident they will keep the momentum going. The track is packed with electric guitars and has a pop-punk flavour that is reminiscent to ‘Paramore’ whilst bringing a refreshing sound to the table. We were fortunate to have a chat with front singer Ilona Pointeau.
YMX: Hey Ilona Mahieu, thanks for sitting down with us. What would you say to all our readers new to your project?
ILONA POINTEAU: Hey! My name is Ilona and my band is Ilona Mahieu. We write atmospheric indie rock with a little bit of blues and prog mixed in – we want to give you a little bit of everything. Emotion and aesthetic go hand in hand, and paired with warm dreamy guitar sounds, rich vocals, poetic lyrics, and drum and bass lines that pack a punch, this is an experience you won’t want to miss. As an unsigned band we massively appreciate everyone who gives us a chance; an insane amount of work goes into our art and we just want to share it with anyone who will listen!
YMX: When did you know that music was something you wanted to pursue at an artistic level?
ILONA POINTEAU: I have been singing and writing songs for as long as I can remember. I still have the notebooks I wrote songs in when I was around 7 years old, so I’ve always known this was something I wanted to do. As a teenager I would skype my friends and sing them songs I’d written, and I played my first gig in a small local pub when I was 13. At 15 I bought my first microphone and recorded my first EP, and from that point I became eager to learn more about recording and production to improve the quality of my work. One university degree and several musical friends later, I’m now able to write and release music I’m really proud of, and make art with my best friends.
YMX: You recently released single ‘Stiletto’. Can you tell us how that project came about?
ILONA POINTEAU: I started writing this song when I was 15, and finished it when I was 17/18. I always had a really clear concept and vision for this track – the Queen of Hearts and playing card imagery is baked into the lyrics, so I wanted the music to be dramatic and punchy to match. Originally played on an acoustic guitar, I always knew this track was far better suited to a rock arrangement and recorded a rough demo when I was 19. Fast forward to forming the band and we refined the song to what it is today. It was important to me that the visuals were as majestic and elaborate as my budget would let me; a lot of the ideas in the music video and promotional photos were inspired by our graphic designer’s (www.tamizzettgraphics.co.uk) amazing work on the single artwork.
YMX: What is the one thing you would like people to feel while listening to the single?
ILONA POINTEAU: Beautifully bitter and full of attitude, the sentiment of this track is nostalgic for pop-punk throwbacks such as ‘Misery Business’ by Paramore. I’ve always been a big believer in letting the audience create their own associations and interpretations, so when people listen to this single I want them to feel however it makes them feel. May that be anger, empowerment, arrogance, etc; I want them to embrace it.
YMX: How did the recent pandemic influence your creative process? is remote collaboration easy for you?
ILONA POINTEAU: Luckily we recorded our last 3 singles (including this one) back in January 2020 so we were able to continue releasing songs while writing new material. The pandemic has made it very difficult to create the visuals to go along with releases, but we made the most of what we had and did the best despite limitations. We’ve rehearsed and written together whenever we’ve had the opportunity but unfortunately due to lockdown restrictions it’s been very difficult to maintain regular meet ups. We definitely work best when we’re together in one room so having that taken away from us has impacted our creative process and restriced our ability to collaborate effectively. We’re eager to get back to our normal routine of weekly writing/playing sessions – the momentum carries us creatively.
YMX: Do you feel more confident writing music alone, or within a team?
ILONA POINTEAU: I definitely prefer writing lyrics and melodies on my own, as I get self concious of any bad ideas I might come up when I’m throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks. However I rely on my band to start me off with a solid musical idea to go off before I can write anything solid. There’s no better feeling than when you’re bouncing off of each other and a song almost writes itself – everything seems to fall into place with the right combination of people.
YMX: Can you name the last gig you played? Would you consider doing a livestream concert?
ILONA POINTEAU: The last gig we played was an acoustic show at the West End Centre in Aldershot, Hampshire, back in October 2020. This was a very intimate, relaxed and socially distanced show to a small group of local supporters. I would be interested in doing a livestream concert as soon as I can figure out the technical logistics – I’d want to make sure the sound and image quality are as high as possible before charging for a digital show.
YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future?
ILONA POINTEAU: This year we’re hoping to get back into the studio and record more music – we have a few songs ready to go already, and plenty more being written. Unfortunately lockdown measures are preventing us from being able to meet up and properly write and practice together, but obviously it’s more important to keep ourselves and others safe during this public health crisis. We have a gig with Underground Sound in London that’s been postponed and relocated multiple times due to the pandemic, so hopefully we will eventually get to play this show as we are really looking forward to playing live again. Until then we’ll keep writing individually and honing our instruments so that we’re ready and rearing to go when we meet again!