Ana Carolina, soon to be known by her artist moniker I.L.Y., moved to New York City a little over two months ago, and has hit the ground running. The 25-year old Brazilian native left behind her marriage and career as a technical training coach for an Olympic athlete to pursue her true passion – music. She’s already garnered fans from her debut New York performances at White Water Studios ( presented by Treble FM) and the International Women’s Day installment of Ludlow House’s Future Female Sounds showcase. I.L.Y.’s music exemplifies strength in vulnerability and following one’s inner truth. We spoke to Ana about her experience on The X Factor Milan, what it feels like to be the only female occupying a room in Bushwick artist collective Tangerine House, and her debut single, “Unlie Your Lies.”

AF: Where did your musical journey begin?

AC: It began in Brazil! My grandfather was (still is) an amazing guitar player and songwriter. Even though he only played for his own enjoyment, he was an inspiration. He gave me my first guitar when I was ten years old, and my love for music has grown stronger ever since.

AF: How does it feel embarking on your first professional music project, and release your first single?

AC: It is the most challenging thing I’ve ever faced. It’s the deepest connection with myself and what I believe to be my purpose in life. At the end of the day, it all comes down to that simple question: “Who am I gonna be, and am I happy with it?” It’s the best feeling to be doing what I love. I’m happy throughout the process of creation, regardless of the outcome.

AF: Where is your creative workspace?

AC: I live in Tangerine House, an artist collective in Bushwick. My creative workspace is usually my bedroom, or wherever the energy carries me.

AF: What is like being the only female in a creative house of men?

AC: We all respect each other and we’re a very dope family to be honest – everybody’s just amazing – so I’d say “easy.” It definitely helps me create more and more. Tangerine House for life!

AF: How would you describe your musical sound palette?

AC: Colorful, eclectic, and sexy!

AF: Who are your musical influences and inspirations?

AC: Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys, Maxwell, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, Sabrina Claudio, James Blake, Kendrick Lamar. The list goes on…

AF: Can you talk a little bit about being on The X Factor in Milan?

AC: It was a very special opportunity. Going through so many auditions and being able to perform in front of fifteen thousand people was definitely amazing and scary! It taught me a lot about dedication and consistency. I got to meet and work with so many international, and dedicated artists. Overall I’d say it was a positive and formative experience.

AF: Your voice resonates wisdom and maturity – what sonic themes will you be exploring with I.L.Y.?

AC: Thank you! Definitely Neo-Soul and a lot of R&B, hip hop, lounge music…

AF: Why did you choose I.L.Y. as a moniker?

AC: I had a dream with this name!! And standing for “I LOVE YOU” is literally what I live for.

AF: Can you discuss the meaning behind your debut track “Unlie Your Lies?”

AC: The song tells an intimate and romantic story about two people who fell for each other but one of them just didn’t want to allow the whole “love story” to happen. It’s about real life choices and consequences – the choice of denying the love you feel for someone and all the weight that comes with that repression. “Unlie Your Lies” is an anthem to be emotionally honest with yourself, and follow whatever you truly feel.

AF: Have you performed live in NYC yet? What’s coming up next for I.L.Y.?

AC: Yes!!! Had an amazing experience at Ludlow House and another unforgettable one at the WhiteWater studios. Coming up is my first EP. Now I’m focusing on compiling all the songs I’ve written and pick the top 10 ones so I can work and create along side amazing artists! It’s really exciting.