From YouTube to Stardom: Alaina Castillo

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Alaina Castillo is slowly but steadily rising to pop stardom, and on her way there, she’s capturing the emotional pulse of an entire generation. Through soft and musical tunes, the Mexican American artist is vocal about her feelings, as she taps into the joy of dealing with her dark emotions through music.

First gaining popularity with covers on YouTube, Castillo reached new heights in 2022, opening for Coldplay in her own NGR Stadium in Houston during the “Music of the Spheres” World Tour. bands and releasing her acclaimed EP “Fantasies”. Now, she aims to create new music that shows all sides, from her raw, sad emotions to her Latina identity and her love of EDM music.

“I’m doing the kind of sad dance that includes a bunch of Spanglish … “I’m excited because it mixes my two worlds – I guess three – of the Spanish with the sad girl [and] with the dance. So it should be really, really exciting.”

The Tejana singer-songwriter burst onto the scene with dreamy pop and R&B tunes, and lyrics in Spanglish, at the hands of producer RØMANS, who she discovered on YouTube. RØMANS has previously worked with Demi Lovato and John Legend. As a teenager, Castillo would attend raves and hold on to that cathartic feeling for weeks. Creating music with lyrics that are true to the lows of life while evoking uplifting emotions is essential to her mission as an artist.

Among her influences, she cites artists from Rihanna and Miguel to dance music powerhouse Excision. “I’ve been realizing that I had some pretty bad situations. I have grown from them. I’m still trying to put years of trauma and all that stuff away, and that’s why, even when it’s so sad and painful, there’s still joy. a little positive side to it because you need that in your life,” she says as she reflects on her music-making process.

In this way, Castillo’s music evokes feelings of nostalgia, the kind that make listeners process their own emotions around moments of nostalgia, from falling out of love to heartbreak. In the fun and addictive dance song “Party in My Head (Ur Not Invited),” she sings, “Keep it sad / don’t keep tabs / that’s how you get control / Se que me quiere poseer” (“know I have that he wants to possess me). Meanwhile, in “Sad Girls Always Finish First”, she sings, “She’ll say she’s fine / her darkest lie,” speaking to the pressure many women feel to pretend they are fine.

It’s the kind of reality that keeps you hooked, because it’s therapeutic and grounded in reality. “I write a lot of things about love, but it’s either happy things or just very toxic thoughts. . . a sad, slow, synth R&B song. I want there to be construction,” she said.

“I was the only girl with three brothers, so singing was my creative thing.”

Castillo started singing on her own as a child. When she was in first grade, she would carry a blue CD player around and sing to people. Eventually, she started participating in talent shows and joined the choir. “I just always did it because I liked the way it sounded. . . i wonder [my family] this kind of gave me permission to do my thing,” she explains. “I was the only girl with three brothers, so singing was my kind of creative thing.” The pre- She was exposed to music as a child in Houston with Christian music and more American pop singers like the Beach Boys. Eventually, her family moved to League City, TX, where, as a teenager, she began attending raves and hooking up. to others through music.

Although the new city was not as diverse as Houston, Castillo eventually found her tribe. She said it was in middle school and high school when she realized she was different, but that she was able to be different with others like her. However, Castillo often felt like an outsider, and that’s when she found emotional solace by posting covers on YouTube, where RØMANS eventually found her. Many stars of today started in the same way, like Chloe x Halle, who was discovered by Beyoncé’s team, or La Gabi, who was taken by J Balvin. They are far and few between, and yet these are talented artists who break a certain code with persistence and talent. “For me, music was just an escape. It was an escape from the life I had and I wanted to create a better life that I knew I deserved,” said Castillo. Music has become her way of embracing her Latina identity, infusing her music with the richness of her experiences and her bilingual reality. For Castillo, her family’s background has become a source of strength and compassion. It gives her an opportunity to be grateful for her blessings.

“I literally started [making music] being myself and being and creating a life that was different than feeling stuck in a room where I had no idea and no voice.”

However, as she continues to rise in the industry, it is important to stay true to her practice of making music to connect with her emotions. Castillo paints, sings, writes, and still posts covers on TikTok as a way to stay grounded in the exciting endeavors her career is taking. “I literally started [making music] to be myself and create and create a life that was different than feeling stuck in a room where I had no opinion and no voice,” she shares with great confidence in her voice. “And that’s exactly what I’m doing. And I’m not going to let someone else dictate their way to the top of my pyramid. Like, now I’m at the top. “

Since releasing her first single, “I Don’t Think I Love You Anymore,” in 2019, Castillo has certainly built a huge following. And yet, as she steps into her next project, she will be loyal to her first TikTok and YouTube fans, experiencing satisfying moments in the process.

“It’s been amazing. I started on YouTube doing covers, but now when I go live or talk about the songs people want to see on my YouTube, etc., a lot of people just say the songs from the ‘Fantasies’ EP,” Castillo says. “And for me, that’s just like a full-circle moment because they used to ask me to do other people’s songs and covers and, you know, they still ‘ do, but a lot of people are showing love for ‘Fantasies,’ and that’s all I could ask for.”

Image source: Milkman

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