Born in Texas, and now based in LA, Alaina Castillo is pop’s latest game-changer. She’s about to release her second EP the voicenotes at the end of this month, and is already making her mark in the music world – she’s a part of Spotify’s 2020 RADAR program, has just dropped a new single, “no vuelvas a mirar atrás,” and is in the midst of tour planning and creating music for the future.
We talked to Alaina about her forthcoming EP, the voicenotes, what brings her comfort outside of music and cooking amongst other things.
Your new EP is out in April, and each song feels very stripped back and honest. Can you tell us a bit more about why you chose to title the EP the voicenotes? I decided to call the EP The Voicenotes because that’s where it started. It’s that moment when you think of a song idea and take out your phone to record it as a voice note. It’s honest, uncensored & an in the moment thing. It’s a vulnerable side of me because I’m singing about things that have hurt me, things I’m learning from & things that I overthink which is sometimes hard to talk about because it goes so deep into the darker side of things.
Your lyrics hold a lot of imagery in them. In “sad girl” especially, you sing about how you wish you could “push the dark aside.” How long did it take for this song to reach its final form, and are you happy with the way it turned out? For me, whenever I hear music, the imagery that I see helps set the tone for the song’s meaning. For “sad girl,” I knew I wanted to use a lot of imagery because the song is a lot more in-depth than usual. I wanted to talk about how I was feeling in a different way than just writing it out in plain ink. I am happy with “sad girl” because it explores the pain that I felt while dealing with online hate & people who don’t care about my feelings. But it also captures the different emotions through all the imagery. It’s my favorite thing to do because it makes you think deeper.
What was it like in the studio this time around compared to when you recorded your first EP antisocial butterfly? The Voicenotes EP was written in one week. It was back when I was flying out to LA one week at a time and we started doing late studio sessions so it just happened super naturally. My first EP, Antisocial Butterfly was different because it was recorded in different places on different days. For this EP, we recorded it in ROMANS’ studio within one week, by just working out the things that were personal to me and needed to be expressed through music.
What song are you most proud of having written? One of my favorite songs from the EP is “pass you by” because it’s a type of message that I need to hear every day. When we were writing it, it came easily but also took some time to really find out what it was that I wanted to say to myself. It explores my past and things that stress me out and cause me to not enjoy the moment. For someone like me who overthinks everything and sometimes needs to be reminded not to hold on to that damage, “pass you by,” lyrically, really allows me to just let go and forgive.
You started off making covers on YouTube, and your ASMR “Sing You to Sleep” series is still really popular online amongst your fans. Do you remember what it was first like reading the positive responses to these videos? I loved recording the sing you to sleep videos. It was something I thought of doing in order to turn a trend that was super big into my own soft, vibey videos. When it started to blow up, I was really content because it was just me, in front of my phone with no music or microphone yet people still wanted to hear more and at the time. That was really nice to see. It was just a really wholesome era because the videos were calming for me but were also what other people needed and that made me happy.
What types of videos do you like to watch on YouTube for fun? I love watching cooking videos & traveling videos. Cooking videos really make me wanna bake or try cooking cool meals but most of the time, I just love watching the food get made because it looks amazing. Traveling videos are also my favorite because the world is amazing and anyone who travels gets to see a different side of the way things work. It’s like a little teaser for me because I haven’t been able to travel to a lot of places but I can’t wait to finally see the world.
Speaking of videos, all of the music videos you’ve released so far have been stunning in terms of visual effects, color, styling, etc. How do you usually brainstorm ideas for how you want your videos to look like? The creative side of my music videos is a big part of what I think about when I’m in the studio making that specific song for the first time. When we are making music, I can always think about the vibe of the song, the colors that fit with it and the things that are happening in the music. That all helps whenever I’m thinking about the music videos because it’s like I already have the picture in my head.
If you could live in one music video from any artist of your choice, which would it be? I would definitely live in the music video for “This Is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris and Rihanna because the colors and vibes of the video are so aesthetically pleasing and she changes locations within the video so I’d just be vibing throughout.
What was it like singing a strings version of “i don’t think i love you anymore” for Spotify Singles? That whole day was insane. We flew out to New York early in the morning and recorded all of that in one day. The Electric Lady Studio was amazing and working with everyone there was crazy because when it all came together, it sounded so beautiful. I remember hearing the strings while they were practicing and I had tears in my eyes because it sounded so good. It definitely brought out a new beauty to “i don’t think i love you anymore” and I’m so thankful that I got to take part in that.
You have a private Instagram account for your fans – how important is it for you to connect with and talk directly to your fans through social media? From the start, I’ve always thought that it was super important to talk to them and let them know how important they are to me because they’re so nice, funny & creative. I wouldn’t be here without them so any milestone I cross or anything that happens to me, I always think about what they will think or how happy they will be to hear new music because they’re so supportive and just want the best thing for me. Being able to talk to them through the private Instagram or texting them is definitely something I try to do as much as possible because it makes me genuinely happy to know that they care for me and I care for them just as much.
Outside of music, what are some things that bring you happiness and comfort? I have a cat named Quill and she is really sweet but also super crazy so it’s nice to come home to her after being at the studio. I also love sleeping, Netflix, eating, going to the beach & playing games on the PS4. I stay in most of the time so sometimes I do spa treatments as well but all those things help me stay happy and cozy in my free time.
You’re known to love food and cooking. If you could make a dish with one of your favorite artists, who would it be, and what would you make? I think I would want to cook stromboli with marinara sauce on the side because my mom used to make the best version of the dish and I would choose to cook it with Elvis because he’s been one of my favorite artists since middle school.
Lastly, what are you looking forward to most this year? Putting out music and touring. All the music that I’m making in the studio just gets me even more excited to keep creating amazing vibes and grow as a person and an artist. I’ve never felt something that can allow me to escape more than singing & creating so I’m just looking forward to everything that 2020 can offer.