With a new single under her belt, this young Latina has captivated media, platforms, and listeners alike, with a silky voice that has a lot to say.
In emotive melodies, which wander seamlessly between R&B and pop, Castillo reveals an intricate web of emotions that she doesn’t hesitate to lay bare with her sharp, transparent lyrics.
From a Mexican father and raised in Houston, this sweet voice recognized her potential in the choir of her local church, from where her musical appetite opened up to a much broader catalog.
From The Beach Boys and Elvis to Whitney Houston, Castillo began at a very young age to devour everything that passed through her hands, until she heard Usher for the first time, and then everything changed.
“I listened to all of his songs,” she remembers. “It was a slap in the face — he took me in the direction I wanted to go in.”
Spanish and Multiple Sensibilities
Although she didn’t speak much Spanish at home, Alaina made learning her father’s language a challenge that she still works on today.
“I didn’t speak any Spanish until school where, between music and shows, I started learning”, she told us. “Although I’m not fluent, I’m still learning and trying to get the hang of it and be able enough to put it in my music and express how I’m feeling.”
Much of her musical project brings out this rich cultural background, and has allowed her to explore sounds and sensibilities through a new language.
“Even though English is my first language, the fact that I’m blessed enough to have a father that’s Mexican or that has that cultural side to him, and now to me as well, it kind of goes over into music because it brings a different side to all the music that I’ve listened to.”
This plurality of feelings, through a bilingualism that she is beginning to explore, has allowed her to open up her creative process to diverse audiences.
“It’s the same message, the same vibes, but it adds a different depth that I think people can understand,” she adds.
A Timid Beginning and a Breakthrough Moment
Her beginnings in the church choir were only a taste of what life had in store for her.
For Alaina, music was always an escape route, an “outlet,” as she describes it, to access feelings and sensations she could not otherwise express.
“I think the first time that I ever had (a breakthrough moment) was in 11th grade when I was at an all-time low and I was like ‘okay, music is the only thing that I want to do now because it is the only thing that can make me super happy,’” she recalls.
Despite having tried to attend college for a year, the evidence was still palpable.
“I was still like: ‘I’m still doing singing.’ And it has been my main focus ever since,” she said. “For me it wasn’t just something that makes me happy, it was something I was passionate about, and that I always wanted to do.”
Despite not having studied music formally, her self-taught spirit led her to hours of practice in her room, doing song covers and educating her voice on her own.
“I never really had any lessons singing. It wasn’t until once in middle school and the past year and a half that I’ve been doing singing lessons as well,” she admits. “So, well, I think I’m self-taught, but I’m still learning so much, and I have so much to live in order to improve myself, and be the best that I can be.”
The Music Industry Opens Up a Whole New Universe
Now based in Los Angeles, and thanks to a number of connections, her first experience in a recording studio would cement her decision to make music a career.
“That’s when I was like, ‘Oh shoot, this is really happening.'”
That’s when she began work on her first EP, Antisocial Butterfly, a precursor to her later work and one that works perfectly to introduce her to the public.
“When we were coming up with the title for the EP, we were like, ‘What describes me?’,” she recalls. “I’m very antisocial. I scream inside of my head when I have to talk to new people because I’m overthinking everything I’m saying and wondering if it’s the right thing. This music isn’t what you’d hear from someone who’s antisocial though, and that’s where the ‘butterfly’ comes in. I open up through music and express how I’m feeling. The music helps me let things go.”
After the release of her single Ocean Waves, Alaina decided to embark on a full bilingual project that will see the light of day on April 24th, and whose Spanish opening we will be able to anticipate with the newly released track “no vuelvas a mirar atrás.”
This song will be part of the EP Mensajes de Voz, which the singer describes as a sort of conceptual selection of “moments, problems that I’m talking about, something that hurts me; something that has hurt me, or something I’m listening to.”
“I wanted to feel vulnerable, and [the album] captures that because it actually happened: those thoughts of things that were concerning me and I wanted to talk about.”
“I don’t like to express my emotions, but when it comes to this EP, this is me late at night talking about what’s stressing me out — things that I’m feeling about wanting to enjoy every moment. It’s an insight into how I feel, but it’s relatable to other people as well. I want people to understand that it’s okay not to overthink and enjoy the moment. This happens to everybody.” And that unvarnished sense of self is felt through the spare guitar of lead single “Just a Boy” from her EP Voicenotes, the English-language counterpart of Mensajes de Voz. “I overthink things because of things that have happened in my past, or because it’s just who I am,” she states while discussing the song. “There’s this person making you promises that they’re not gonna hurt you, but in a world where people get hurt, you constantly ask yourself how things would actually unfold.”
Although the Future Is Uncertain, the Promises Are Many
In the midst of a pandemic that makes public meetings and concerts impossible, Alaina is focused on her creative process, and on learning as much as possible from the team of professionals who accompany her in her project.
“The people that I’m working with, the experiences that I’ve had the opportunity to live they’re just insane, and incredible,” she reflects. “When I think of two years ago when I was making covers of music in my room I never would’ve imagined that I would be able to meet so many amazing people, experience so many amazing things. So it’s been awesome to learn so many things.”
“I’m not perfect,” she states. “I overthink things, sometimes I just want to stay in, and as I’m going through life I find out that I don’t have my shit together. The music is how I tell that story of my changing emotions.”