Get To Know: Alaina Castillo
Texas-born Alaina Castillo is making sweet R&B pop music and we’re loving it! Check her out for this week’s GTK…
“Dark and spacey” is how 19 year-old Alaina Castillo describes her sound and we couldn’t agree more. After building an online community on YouTube with her ASMR inspired ‘Sing You To Sleep’ series, including covers of Billie Eilish, Post Malone and Ariana Grande, the singer is making her own music that is equally as dreamy. With her new single 'tonight' out tomorrow, we cannot wait to hear her latest release!
Aligned sonically and lyrically to the likes of artists like Billie Eilish and Clairo, who unapologetically lay out all the varying emotions experienced by twen-teen somethings today, Alaina says that in her music, the emotions have to “transcend to what I’m thinking and create a universal sound that can speak to different people.”
She is very conscious about creating a space to connect and be vulnerable with her music for her young audience, and wants to create music “that puts you in a headspace where it’s almost like you’re dreaming for those three minutes because it feels like an escape”. So determined and passionate about creating this space, as she speaks Spanish, she recorded her two versions of EP the voicenotes this year in both Spanish and English in order to reach as many people as possible.
1) For those who don’t know about you and your music, tell us a little bit about who you are and where you’re from…
I started singing in church choirs so that’s what I grew up listening to, but when I started middle school, that’s when I really started listening to my own kind of music. Usher, Ne-Yo, Drake and Rihanna were some of the artists that I always listened to. When I joined high school, I started my own YouTube channel because I knew I wanted to become a singer, but I just didn’t know how I could really put myself out there; YouTube was that sort of gateway for me.
I’ve always been the kind of person to stay in and find different ways to entertain myself so I think that’s when my creativity started to become it’s own thing and show throughout my lyrics, different vibes and aesthetics, and sounds. I started going to the studio about a year and a half ago with my producer, RØMANS, and I’ve just been making s**t ever since. I like music that makes you think or that puts you in a headspace where it’s almost like you’re dreaming for those three minutes because it feels like an escape, so that’s what I try to show in my music as well.
2) Describe your sound in three words…
Dark, spacey and a mix of a bunch of different sounds that fit whatever mood I’m in. I feel like I can’t really fit each song under any specific category but those are the things that are in my head before a session, so one way or another they get into the music. I like to take music personally, so the emotions in the music have to be able to transcend to what I’m thinking and create a universal sound that can speak to different people.
3) Who inspired you to start a career in music?
I don’t have a specific person or instance that inspired me to be a singer because I grew up listening to so many different artists from different genres that I just knew I wanted to fit so nicely into something, or feel so strongly about what I was doing that I could create a whole world out of it basically. Each song, EP, future albums, I just wanted to be able to create something that could mean something even when I’m old and can’t sing for s**t anymore. I also remember watching singers perform live and I would always silently hope that one day I could sing live too because it seemed like they were the only ones in that world for those moments, and I’ve always loved a good escape so it was something that started the train of thoughts.
4) Who are your biggest musical influences?
My biggest musical influences would probably have to be Elvis, The Beach Boys, Jhené Aiko, Rihanna and so many others. I listened to so many different styles of music when I was younger so the classics slipped their way in, but when I started listening to my own music it was a lot of R&B, so I think my constant overplaying of the songs had a major impact on the kind of music I like to make now.
5) Tell us about the writing and recording process for your new single/album…
Everything starts with either a beat or an idea of what I want to sing about, and then as RØMANS is adding things to the beat, I usually get little images of what I want to sing about or the mood of the song puts little vibes or aesthetics in my head which I then try to show through the lyrics. The music that we’ve been working on has been my favorite thing that we’ve done so far because it’s so different but still 100% in line with who I am and what I want my music to sound like and feel like. Recording the songs is fun because some things that you didn’t hear before will come out and become harmonies or little ad-libs here and there.
6) What can we expect from your live shows?
Whenever corona gives us some space, the live shows will have a mix of music from before but also some new stuff that we have been working on. I’ve always been a visual person so the creative side of the set will feel ethereal and fun. I just want the live shows to be a place to escape into so that people can chill and have fun while listening to the music, because it’s been a long time since anyone’s done a live performance and I know I can’t wait to go to a rave or festival.
7) What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
I was chosen as Spotify’s first RADAR artist at the start of the year and that was legit so far away from anything that I thought would happen. So after seeing a billboard of my face in Times Square, I just started realizing everything that was happening around me and how much of a highlight it all was. Watching the growth is just a constant highlight because I was working at Subway two years ago and now there are people who listen to my music and it makes me so happy for what’s to come and for all that I have right now.
8) Have you met anyone and been totally starstruck?
I have this great vocal teacher in LA and we were going through my influences and one of the people I mentioned was Rosalía. At the end of the lesson, he said to me, “Alaina, I have someone introduce you to.” and in walks Rosalía who had the lesson after mine. She was super sweet and it was really cool meeting her!
9) What’s on your playlists that people wouldn’t expect?
Andrea Bocelli, a lot of dubstep music and jazz classics. I like to have music for everyyy occasion so we have the opera kind of music for when I’m in my feels, dubstep because that’s a different kinda vibe and jazz music for when I’m also in my feels but just trying to chill. Those can also switch the meanings around depending on how I feel. (,:
10) When can we see you live?
As soon as corona virus is dealt with, then shortly after that. Plans for a tour, some shows and a lot of new music that is coming veryyyy soon. :)