According to a renowned psychological theory, individuals are said to fall into two categories: left-brained or right-brained, creating a metaphorical battlefield between our innermost analytical and methodical thoughts, while equally trying to embrace our artistic ambitions. As Latin-pop singer sensation Alaina Castillo began confronting her desires to pursue a traditional, science-based career path, her apparent fondness for melodies and tunes, eventually, took reign. After years of covering hit songs through her ever-expanding YouTube channel, Alaina decided to transfigure the feat she loved into her eventual famed career. Now, after honing her craft and fine-tuning her sound, Alaina has recently released mega-hit ¡párate!, amidst the new year. In this exclusive interview, Alaina discusses where she draws inspiration from when composing her latest masterpieces, how she got her initial start as a singer, and favorite moments she cherishes throughout her flourishing career.
Megan Morgante: Did anything or anyone, in particular, inspire you to enter the music industry?
Alaina Castillo: My parents would control the TV growing up, so whenever we were sitting with them, it was whatever they wanted to watch. Every once in a while, we would watch award shows and I always remember seeing people perform and seeing how they create their own little world in their performance. It really inspired me and when I saw those performances I knew that I wanted to be doing that. Artists like Whitney Houston, Adele, and Rihanna, also inspire me in how they have such power in their voices and know who their character is. Those were the people that I looked up to and the people that truly influenced my music.
MM: What did your life look like before you entered the music industry professionally?
AC: I was very involved in school and sports, so that was something that kind of ran a lot of my life. I was going into college to become a neuroscience major and everything was on a path for me, but for me, I just wanted to pursue music and be involved in that world. That's why I started my YouTube channel and was able to pursue music through that. My parents told me that it's good to have dreams and to strive for things, but to focus on what can actually happen. So it was school and work on one hand, and making videos right as I got home from school on the other. During my YouTube days, I was just working on how to build my channel and how to create an image for myself on the internet. I was always kind of living two separate lives, but low-key, I knew that I wanted to be a singer.
MM: Can you give an overview of your past in the music industry and how it led you to where you are now?
AC: I believe it's been one year since my first single launched. I've realized that from writing these different EP’s and having to express my feelings through these songs, which I usually never do, that with music, it's just always been easier for me to write whatever I'm feeling and throw out all of my thoughts, doubts, or feelings into my songs. I just started to express myself naturally through my songs and I feel like it's helped me grow as a person. I’ve written some very vulnerable songs where I’ve taken these experiences from my life, from boyfriends, friends, or my past and put that into my songs, which helps me grow mentally. Now when we make music, we know we have a sound and we know what we want to do with it, but, there's also that part of me that wants to use my music to help myself as well as others who listen to it.
MM: Your EP, Tonight, transitioned you from introverted singer-songwriter to pop star in the making. In under a month, the track’s music video has amassed over 450k views on YouTube. Would you say this EP transitioned the course of your career?
AC: Yes, I do. Whenever Romans [Sam Roman] and I are in a studio, we're picking from songs that we've liked in the past or sounds that we’re thinking of, he’ll play them on his instrument and we’ll mess around with the sounds. That is kind of Tonight's vibe because it starts telling people who I am. The music video always helps with that through the visuals or me in my room, just chilling, dancing, and having fun. It makes it unique and it’s own. Everything that we've been working on has that specific sound to it, a little bit of the pop, but it also incorporates a Lo-Fi, alternate mix.
MM: Your single, ¡párate!, sung completely in Spanish, was recently released towards the end of 2020… congratulations! Where did you draw your inspiration from when creating your latest masterpiece?
AC: There are some days when I don't want to do anything, where I'm just in my head too much and overthinking, so the song is basically about when I’m just fed up of feeling that way and letting those feelings get in the way of me being happy. It’s about realizing that if you go into something with a positive attitude, then that's what you're going to receive. I love the meaning behind it.
MM: When creating music videos, how do you choose the vibe or creative direction for each song?
AC: Usually whenever I get the idea of what I want the lyrics to be, then that forms the storyline for each song. A lot of times I'll get little pictures in my head and colors that I want to incorporate in a video. Then when we're actually planning it out, that's when I try and sketch out my ideas. Everyone has their own ideas of what the video should look like, but when we finalize what we want to show throughout, that's when we get to take what’s in our minds to an actual video.
MM: Have you ever experienced any notable challenges throughout your career?
AC: One of the biggest things that I'm learning is that other people are a part of my career and my journey, so I have to remember who I am and what my messages are before I let other people control me. It's easy for me to get caught up in what other people want, but I just have to remind myself that I was the one who started my channel, and I was the one who went out and did it. As long as I stay humble, thankful, and confident in what I'm doing, then it will reflect in my music
MM: In your opinion, what has been your biggest accomplishment thus far?
AC: I went to New York about six-years-ago. I remember standing in Times Square and I thought how cool would it be if I was on one of these billboards one day. Last February, Spotify chose me as their radar artist, and one of the things that they did was put my picture up in Times Square. I couldn't go because of the pandemic, but it's one of those moments where you think, “...Holy, how did this even happen!?”
MM: Do you feel you have a social responsibility with your growing platform?
AC: I just try to be as open-minded as possible because you never really know what someone's opinions are of something. Where I can add my voice, express what I'm feeling, and give people ways to be informed about situations. That's something that I actively try to do because at the end of the day, working together is the best thing for everyone.
MM: Do you have any projects that are especially dear to your heart, or, that you connect with on a different level?
AC: A project that really helped me and changed me is probably the voicenote EP. To see that it also helped a lot of other people really made me happy because that was the goal for it. I just wanted it to be calm and comforting.
MM: What would you say your personal style is like?
AC: My style definitely changes, but for the most part it's a lot of sweats and joggers. I also have been obsessed with skirts lately, so I like to play around with different pleated skirts. I love oversized shirts and jackets, and big, oversized chunky sneakers.
MM: Who is your ultimate style icon?
AC: There are a lot of people that I've gotten my style inspiration from, but I would say Rihanna and Bella Hadid. I admire their confident attitudes and that can also make the outfit that much better.
Photography by Krystena Patton