Alaina Castillo is a true Gen-Z superstar. The 20-year-old Texas-born singer first charmed the internet with her covers on Youtube and Tik Tok, where she has over 1.6 million followers. She sees music as a way to escape the anxieties of everyday life. In hushed acoustic ballads like, i don’t think i love you anymore, and just a boy, she’s open and candid. Her vulnerability is what makes her sound touchingly relatable.
Castillo is a Pop powerhouse who sings in both English and Spanish. “I learned Spanish on my own. It became something I was really proud of,” she shares. Castillo’s sound is the perfect balance between sweet and sombre, and captures painful truths about love and being young. Her latest track Tonight is a love letter to being alone and dancing by yourself. As she shares her new video, Castillo chats to Schön! about the reality of having a huge Tik Tok platform, and how she’s adapting to being an introvert in the limelight.
You were at university studying Biology before deciding to pursue music. What inspired you to make that transition?
I was always very academic, but there was this part of me that wanted to be a singer. My parents wanted me to be the best. I started YouTube in high school, and before college I started getting money from it. That’s when they started to ease up. I remember talking to my brother and saying, ‘I think I’m gonna drop out. I’m gonna go after this.’ That fall was when my producer reached out to me. I was like, here we go, this is actually happening. I wanted to be a neurosurgeon, but at the same time I didn’t. I knew that if I did that then I would always be like, what if I could’ve become a singer?
You now have over 1.6 million followers on Tik Tok. How do you find Tik Tok as an artistic space?
It’s cool. You can do snippets of songs and dances, inserting your own voice, and doing little covers and stuff. I think it’s a cool way to get sick little videos out there, but Tik Tok is a very salty platform. They’re quick to come at you. For me, a lot of the comments are hate comments. It’s people that don’t really know you, who will do whatever they want for a couple of likes. At first that got to me, but now it just helps with the algorithm so I’m like alright, you do you.
You have spoken a lot about being an introvert. How do you balance being introverted with being in the limelight?
I’m introverted and I’m antisocial. I would love to just stay in, but that’s not life. You gotta go out and do things. Be as comfortable as you can with it, and just accept that people are gonna like you, people aren’t gonna like you. I just try and remember that this is what I’m happy doing. Because of quarantine I’ve been able to hide, but I learn best from experiences, and messing up, and from feeling uncomfortable. I feel like I’m changing, and getting more confident with myself.
How has lockdown been affecting you creatively?
I thrive in situations where I’m not going out a lot. I still get to go outside, I still get all the vibes from nature, and most of my creativity comes when it’s late at night and I’m in my feels. I’m still in that mindset of being by myself and being comfortable. It’s helped me to grow as a person, realising who I am as an artist, and realising my sound and my voice in the industry.
You say that your song Tonight is an antisocial anthem. What does that mean to you?
Whenever I’m in my house, even if I don’t like going out and doing things, I still like to listen to music. I still like to dance, sing, and vibe with myself. That’s what this song is. If you’re with a few friends, or by yourself, this song is like, I don’t need anybody else tonight. I’m gonna stay inside by myself, eat and do me.
Can you tell us about Tonight’s new video?
I normally go for sad songs but Tonight was upbeat. The video [combines] all of the elements: the neon lights, the dancing, the visuals. You’re going into this digital world of Tonight.
How do you want your music to make people feel?
I want my music to feel like an escape. To help people, and help them talk about the problems that they’ve had in the past, or things that they’re going through currently.
What advice would you give to other young creatives right now?
Stay true to your art and your creativity. People will try and tell you what you should be. They’ll try and bring you down. Remember who you are, and remember what your sound is. Don’t let people try and change you. This is what you love so just keep going at it.
This Schön! exclusive has been produced by
photography. Chris Shelley
fashion. Analisa Siegel
talent. Alaina Castillo
words. Marni Rose McFall