Image by Chris Shelley
Of all those lucky enough to have stayed physically healthy during the coronavirus crisis, many have had to otherwise confront mental health issues, exacerbated by the forced isolation.
But the still just 20 years old Texas songstress Alaina Castillo just happens to be a natural introvert, despite a speedily skyrocketing career that has made her very much a public figure. Her pensive, self-reflective single “i don’t think i love you anymore” had already hit a visceral nerve upon its fall 2019 release, with the video eventually racking up more than four million YouTube views. And then she was chosen in early 2020 as the inaugural ambassador for Spotify’s new RADAR program.
But she used the time during lockdown in her new home of Los Angeles to be as creatively productive as possible; and one result is the exuberant new single, “tonight”—which just may just become the ultimate quarantine anthem. Indeed, the lyrics are practically a call to arms to, well, spend some time alone.
“My body’s burning fire / Eyes are eating me alive, no, no / Can’t wait to be alone / ‘Cause I’ve feenin’, need some time on my own.”
The lush, nu-disco track also proves once and for all that she knows her way around an unstoppable pop hook—especially one that makes you want to get up and dance.
We caught up for a chat with the self-described loner, only to discover that all she really wants to do is get out and tour. Obviously, we hope she gets her wish soon.
Where have you been during the coronavirus lockdown?
Going back and forth from my apartment to the studio. I guess this is how I thought quarantining would go, because I just moved to LA before everything shut down; but now that it’s been going on for so long, I just want to travel and go out to do things…and I never want to do that.
Have you been working and writing during that time?
Yiiiii. I’ve been working on new music and I have been enjoying our little studio sessions. We’ve been finishing up some things and also starting new projects, so it’s been fun to not feel so quarantined and to be able to still make music and create.
You were selected for the Spotify RADAR program earlier this year. What has that done for you up to now?
I never, ever thought something like that would happen, and it’s opened so many amazing doors for me. They’ve given me the ability to reach out to more people and share my music with them, and it’s been insane to watch everything change because of that. I’m super thankful to them because they believed in my music enough to help support me; and that’s insane because it’s… Spotify. Like, how does that happen?
Your debut EP was titled Antisocial Butterfly—was that title revealing something about yourself?
I wanted the title to be something that could explain who I was at the time, and what my music was also doing for me in my life. So Antisocial Butterly fit, because I’m quiet and shy and I stay in my head; but with music, it’s the exact opposite. I’m the social version of myself, and that’s shown through the EP, because people finally got to see what’s really going on in my head.
“i don’t think i love you anymore” really connected—do you think people related to the sentiment?
I think a lot of people were in the same spot, where they were almost denying the truth because they didn’t want to accept the fact that they were going to have to cut ties. So the song was something they needed to hear at that moment. People would listen to it and then say that they were going through their own problems and that the song helped them decide or just deal with what was going on; and that was what the song was for me: a wake up call to let you know that you don’t have to go through that pain for someone who isn’t showing you love.
Was it based on a real experience?
Yes, sadly—but in the end, music does help, and this song was the wake up call for both sides. I’m a hopeless romantic person, so I’ll keep trying even when everyone else has given up, and the song was me confessing to myself that maybe I’m too tired to keep going…and maybe it’s time to realize my worth.
On your new single “tonight” you sing, “Tonight, tonight I’m solo dancing in my room / I’m trying to stay in on my own again.” Was that meant to address the quarantine situation?
So, because I never go out, “tonight” was always going to be a party song with a twist—because I stay in to have fun. The lyrics are meant to just talk about what I do when I’m alone at home and trying to relax after a stressful day; but as we were writing them, we were like, “Oh, shit… quarantine.” So then it became a song with a bunch of different meanings because, especially during these times, everyone’s at home alone. So maybe this song will give them ideas on how to vibe out during quarantine.
Your lyrics are in English and Spanish—what is your actual heritage?
My dad is from Mexico, but he never really spoke in Spanish to us as we were growing up. So I had to learn in high school; but it’s always been something that I’m proud of, and I want to be able to put that in my music…even if I am still learning how to speak fluent Spanish.
You gained attention for doing ASMR content—why is ASMR interesting or important to you?
I started doing ASMR videos because I saw that it was trending and decided to make it my own by doing “sing you to sleep” videos. It was just a relaxing way to record covers, because the setup was simple and it was just me singing without a backing track. When the videos started getting a lot of attention, I was shocked but happy, because my channel was growing. So I kept doing covers because I’m not just an ASMR artist; and then I would occasionally do ASMR videos as well, to spice things up a bit. People really liked them and said it calmed them down if they couldn’t sleep—so that’s also a reason why I continued to make them.
What’s the first thing you want to do once the pandemic contact restrictions are mostly behind us?
Tour! Tour! Tour! I just want to release new music and tour. I can’t wait to see new places, see my family again, and go out to eat.
Will you be recording a full album?
In the works. Can’t wait to share all the new songs, visuals & concepts.