One of Ylona Garcia’s biggest dreams is to buy a house for her family—one with stairs. “That’s one thing that I’d like to get done in 2022,” the 19-year-old Filipino-Australian R&B singer said during a press event in January. It’s just the start of the year and she’s already trying to turn this, and her countless other aspirations, into reality.
She just released her new single “Entertain Me,” now as part of record label 88rising. According to her management team, the song racked over 5 million streams in just a week.
“I feel grateful that everyone has been playing [the single]. I’m grateful that they find ‘Entertain Me’ entertaining,” Garcia said. “You know, some of my fans have been saying that they just have it on repeat all week.”
Influenced by past pop hits, the track’s smooth and confident vocals are backed by a thumping beat and ‘80s-sounding synth.
“Take all that you want from me / Try and leave me with nothin’ / That shit don’t faze me / What kind of girl you take me for? (I don’t know) / I don’t need your petty company (I don’t) / Least I know you’re good for somethin’ / You entertain me,” she sings on the track, boasting of independence and empowerment.
“It was created in Australia over lockdown. I was blessed with a chance to be able to hang out with my friends, and I realized that there were certain situations that they were telling me about, that I had gone through myself, and I felt was not right. So I ended up writing the song called ‘Entertain Me,’ which is basically about being aware of a situation, knowing exactly what you’d like to do with it, and being 100 percent with it. Moving forward the way you want to,” Garcia said.
She finished writing the song in just a few hours. Eventually, it was picked to be part of Valorant’s soundtrack as the theme song for the game’s first-ever Filipino character, Neon. Sporting cobalt blue and highlighter yellow hair, the spunky “sprinter” is a duelist agent from Manila whose arsenal includes rocket-like speed and command of electricity.
“She’s, you know, just an overall badass, which I really, really love. And which is, you know, everything that I aspire to—just to be totally confident with yourself,” Garcia said about the character.
“She was in a weakened state and she was kind of like, floating. I found that really cool. Because she was saying something along the lines of ‘Kontrolado ko ‘to (I can control this)’ and when I heard it, I realized this is sometimes how I feel… when I go through my struggles in life,” she added, recalling the game’s trailer.
“I ended up writing the song called ‘Entertain Me,’ which is basically about being aware of a situation, knowing exactly what you’d like to do with it, and being 100 percent with it. Moving forward the way you want to.”
Garcia started her career at 12 years old, as the front act for Filipino singers like Martin Nievera and Sarah Geronimo during their concerts in Australia.
She competed in many singing contests as a child, before moving to the Philippines in 2015 and joining the reality show Pinoy Big Brother. She didn’t win the grand prize but gained fans around the country, eventually appearing on national ad campaigns and TV shows. When the pandemic hit, she left all that behind to move back to Australia and be with family. There, she led an ordinary life, attending university online and working at a Mcdonald’s.
Then, in late 2020, after briefly trying to live a life of normalcy, she found herself going back to music and signing under record label Paradise Rising, 88rising’s arm in the Philippines. In February 2021, she tweeted: “sooner than you think” to tease her fans, before 88rising confirmed the news through a montage of her old videos.
This eventually brought her to Los Angeles to pursue music full-time, releasing her highly-anticipated first single “All That” in March 2021, a pop anthem about moving forward, past the toxicity of 2020. In September, she dropped the relaxed love ballad “Don’t You Go Changing,” and later that year, performed at 88rising’s Head In The Clouds music festival in California, joining acts like Japanese Breakfast, CL, and 88rising’s Rich Brian, NIKI, and Joji.
Although her set was a mere 20 minutes, it was a worthy introduction to the artist that she is, with her renditions of Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman,” Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” plus a trio of her recent releases in between. Nylon Manila called her “the star of the show” and warned readers not to sleep on her talent.
Garcia continues to dream of the multi-storey house she’ll build for her parents and the international music career she just started.
“I’d love to collaborate with some of the [88rising] artists, an example being Rich Brian. In regards to just my career, I’d love to get into acting. I’d love to put out an album.”
Mostly, she just wants to keep performing. She has an album in the works and, hopefully, if things get better, a tour stop in a city near you.