By Christina Stock
Anyone who has visited one of the local festivals, fairs or gone to local restaurants that offer live entertainment might have enjoyed the soulful performance of Ila Perry. Perry’s stage name is Nova Rush. The soft-spoken woman hides pain and beauty in her bluesy indy songs that are often laced with haunting melody. Her fans compare her crystal-clear voice with the sound of angels, but the artist is firmly attached to this Earth and Roswell. She loves performing at the UFO Festival, she said.
“I don’t even know how many shows I have played,” Perry said. “I love the festivals we have here. In the past, I have played the UFO Festival and that meant a lot for me, to play for my community. The UFO Festival is such a huge thing in Roswell. It is so good to get asked to come back. It’s nice to be liked sometimes. Sometimes I play shows in lounges or breweries and there are literally only two people there — I may just play for the staff. Then I play for tons of people, like 1,000 people at a time. I rather take it as experience. I played shows for five people and I made more money than I had playing for a crowd of 50. It’s just weird how dynamics are so different now.”
Perry said that she had a very conservative, church-going upbringing in Roswell; however, she never participated in the church choir because of a crippling stage fright. This didn’t stop her from becoming a prolific musician.
“I played pianos since I was about 5 years,” she said. “When I was in middle school, I took piano lessons and then I got into the school orchestra. That’s when I started to pick up stringed instruments. I started with the upright string bass and from there I wanted to learn how to play guitar. Once I got to high school, I self-taught myself how to play guitar. From there, I learned other instruments in the orchestra as well.
“The first time I played in front someone was when I was 16 and I was at an open-mic night,” Perry said. “It was terrifying. Every time I went, I had a friend who asked ‘What will you play, Nova?’ That was my nickname and so I became Nova Rush because of that. I remember getting on stage and it was like ‘snap,’ this is definitely something terrifying, but I pushed myself to go out of my comfort zone. That was a struggle, because I was also struggling about family stuff, who I am as person.”
Perry’s love for her community shows and she defends the town fiercely. “A lot of people down it all the time, but no, there is so much happening here. We have the winery, the Liberty, I work at the brewery and they host live music — that’s how I got my job. I was performing there and they asked, ‘Do you want to work here?’ I still get to play shows there all the time. I have a good relationship with my boss. He gave me the leeway to start hosting my own open mic night because that’s how I started out playing music out loud for people to hear. I want to give that back to the community because that’s what happened to me, that’s how I started. Because you never know, that guy who plays guitar for two minutes, it changes his life.
“People are very welcoming there. They don’t down you. It is a great way for me personally to present new material to new audiences to see how they react to songs I wrote. If I get a good response, I incorporate it into my stuff later on. That is another cool thing about the open mic night I like to host,” Perry said.
Asked how she would describe her style, Perry said, “If you want to go in depth, it’s more like neo-soul-indy, which is more like new indy. It is soulful in a way, but fresh and new to people.
“I did this on an online pole for people who liked me: I asked them — I need to know what people think of my songs. A lot of people say, it’s haunting. I play melodies, not necessarily what is ‘normal’ to people, that you wouldn’t hear on the radio station, but you will enjoy it because you want to hear it. It’s more like an experience. When I book myself, it’s like a warm experience for people because I write songs and the words I write, I want the people — anyone that I just met — to be able to relate to it.”
Asked about her goals, Perry said, “I did go to American Idol last summer. It was last-minute and I was against the whole thing, and then I ended going by myself and it was cool because I was meeting all these crazy talented people. They only pick a handful of people for the producers, but they said I was pretty close and I should try next year, which was encouraging. They wouldn’t waist their time on people they would care less about. They don’t know who you are, your background. They liked the fact that I was from Roswell.
“If I ever plan to go, that’s my foot in. I may do “The Voice,” I don’t have the desire to become super-big at this point in my life. I just want to play my music for as many of people as will listen,” Perry said.
For more information, follow Nova Rush on Facebook or visit howlingoakproducti.wixsite.com/novarushmusic.