Smart, talented, attractive and with a unique voice which earned Ira Losco a reputation as one of the best talents Malta has ever produced over the past decades. A true pop queen whose skills are widely acknowledged in Malta and abroad with more than 20 music awards and having performed in over 20 countries along the likes of Sir Elton John, Maroon 5, Akon, Enrique Iglesias and Ronan Keating. Yet Ira is not only about music. She has often voiced her views on hot issues including bullying, feminism and also immigration.
Busy juggling several tasks Ira talks about what attracted her to the world of music. “My mother always says I sang before I could talk. I’ve always loved music.” At school she was a bit of a nerd, she wasn’t athletic at all, always preferred sitting at her piano. Music seemed to be her escape. “I felt like I didn’t really fit in, during my teenage years, so music helped me find an identity and it gave me refuge.” She also adds, “the first time I got the taste of being on stage, I couldn’t get enough. I guess I then wanted music to be part of my life forever even more so when I started writing my own songs at age 11. I was ecstatic when I joined a band at age 15 and could write lyrics and melodies with my band mates. When I met Howard, my manager, producer and co-songwriter, post my near Eurovision win, he encouraged me to write again, I was hooked!”
She talks further about her experience with music. “I grew up listening to 80s pop and the
classics; Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Queen, David Bowie. As a teenager I listened to alternative music; Portishead, Blur, Tori Amos, PJ Harvey, Björk… that taught me to take the unpredictable route when writing.” Ira notes that her exposure to pop enticed her to write songs that people could relate to. I recently read about her fondness for John Lennon. Ira notes that he was a music genius and formed part of the most famous
music group to date. “He truly encompasses the qualities of a brilliant songwriter and manages to make something deep and dark, very relatable to the widespread audience. Also from interviews I’ve seen he comes across as extremely interesting, sharp, he also seems to have a witty sense of humour.”
Her agenda is packed with both professional and personal commitments. I ask Ira how does a celebrity find a proper balance between work and a personal life? She quickly points out “It starts off with accepting what you want out of life. Anyone who wants to do music has to accept that they are in the entertainment industry. Irrespective to how artistic and reserved one might feel ultimately the craft is exposed to the general public and that
means it will be judged.” She adds that “we all need a level of privacy but it’s up to the individual to draw the line. Everything is about balance.Even songs in an album need to balance out. The band on stage and their dynamic need to balance out so why shouldn’t work in personal life? I’m a firm believer in hard work and I also love my family time.”
We touch on her experience as a judge on the first edition of X Factor Malta. She notes that it was exciting to discover such a lot of talent which probably wouldn’t have ever come to light because of a variety of reasons. “The X Factor has given the opportunity to artists who might have never had the opportunity to step into a recording studio or onto a stage. It also gave opportunity to artists who had been misled or misguided. I absolutely loved mentoring my category. I got to suggest repertoire I might never have chosen for myself, I had a vision for my three boys and I also loved preparing them for the stage. I am humbled by their trust and respect.”
I ask Ira whether she feels X Factor can really be a life changing experience for some. She
quickly notes that life changing is a big word. “It depends what this means to the individual. I’ve had my own personal X FACTOR experience not on the show itself but when I started taking this seriously after the 7th Wonder days I was told things that no one ever told me. They were harsh but they were professional. It was ultimately up to me what I wanted to do with that professional advice.”
I recently read Ira firmly believe that the longevity of those who want to thrive in the arts scene depends on what you term as USP – their unique selling point. Ira points out that she truly believes that to safeguard the longevity one stands a better chance with identifying the USP. “It has to be real because if it’s real it lasts. If it’s put on, thought or imposed it simply will not last. Every artist at one point in time looks in the mirror and asks who am I? What am I trying to say with my art and is it coming across well? Not everyone manages to find the right path but that’s mainly because the questions asked are not the right ones. Every artist surely believes they have something deep down which makes them different and drives them to push their craft further.”
We shift our conversation on Ira’s views on key social issues. One major topic at heart is certainly gender equality. She notes, “Unfortunately there will always be those who do aren’t interested to find out about things which are different to their perception of the “norm.” Worse still there are those who are stuck in their ways and hold onto the stereotypes society has imposed years before and till this very day.” She is happy that many have come to realize that it is not a one size fits all. Many have also adapted to changes in the world and really engage in promoting and being hands on in securing gender equality in the workplace and in the home. Nevertheless, Ira notes “of course, there will always be times where there is evident gender disparity and I will be the first to talk openly regarding this and to stand up for what is right in this respect.”
We also touch on immigration where she points out that “I truly believe that we are raising a generation with very little empathy. Unfortunately we live during a time where the younger generation is so self-absorbed that they cannot comprehend caring or putting themselves in anyone else’s shoes.” Ira notes that social media has taken over their lives and approval from their peers is more important than having a conscience.
It is inevitable for me to discuss with Ira her point of view on social media. “The most thing I love about social media is that I get to be in close contact with my followers. The thing I hate most is that it’s ever changing and adapting takes time, also the fact that sometimes some hateful comments can get to people. I can handle it today because I’ve developed a tough skin but it’s just horrible to see how some people find no shame in being so hateful.”
It is time to conclude and without further ado, I ask Ira on her future projects. She notes that quite a lot is going on and her current focus is on her summer concerts and other music projects.
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