INTERVIEW: Casttro talks dropping meaningful music, authenticity and the exploding Perth scene
We spoke to Casttro about the music career he is curating, his experiences so far within the scene and his plan to drop new music soon. We also discussed the evidently growing music scene in Perth City and the importance of artistic authenticity.
Although his discography is currently limited, Perth rapper Casttro is aspiring and ready to break his way into the Australian music scene. “The issue is that I’ve only got two songs out, but I’ve got a lot of songs that I’m either waiting on mastering for, or waiting to speak to the owner of the beat to get exclusivity on, so it’s just been a lot of behind-the-scenes things happening. In terms of songs, I’d say I’ve got close to ten just waiting to be released.”
Casttro says he is amidst filming a music video for a new single, both of which he hopes to release soon. He says he has always been interested in music and following a career in this discipline is a goal he has had for a long time. “I grew up going to church, so I was always around musical influences. My older brother was into music as well and I tried to be near him every time he was making music. He stopped and moved onto other things, but I picked it up and just ran with it and continued working on the craft of music.”
Being an extroverted and easy-going person, Casttro says one of the things he loves most about pursuing music is the people he has met and the connections he has made. “I’ve just been enjoying the conversations with people.”
Chasing a career in music has also taught Casttro several things, lessons that he acknowledges are important for enthusiastic young artists to be aware of. “I’d say at the start I was a little bit naïve, thinking that you could come into the music industry, and it would just be all roses. I learnt slowly that you’ve got to be able to have a hard shell and got to learn how to stick to your original plan because other people can throw a lot of things into the mix, saying, ‘Do this, do that’, and if you let them, eventually the songs will change to the point where it’s not yours anymore, it’s someone else’s,” he says.
“That’s one of the things I’ve learnt working with other people. I’ve also learnt that you’ve got to have your own foundation before you can go build with others. If you come and you’re like, ‘I haven’t released anything, but let’s work together’, it doesn’t work because the other artist is going to say, ‘Well, no, I don’t know you’. You’ve got to be a somebody to be able to work with other people.”
Listening to Casttro’s current sole release ‘OZ DAY Freestyle’ and his feature on fellow Perth rapper M1liter’s track ‘Freeman’, Casttro’s style mixes a concoction of influences including contemporary rap, hip-hop and splashes of UK drill to form his sound.
“I’d say my style of music is hard to describe. I want to say it’s a mix between music you can vibe out to while also understanding the message. I feel like music has a bigger influence than people in Australia understand. It has the power to change everything, I mean, just look at OneFour and how they literally created Australian drill now regardless of where they careers go their names will be solidified forever in Australian hip-hop and rap," Casttro says.
“At this stage, I don’t really believe in making music just to make a song. I feel like every song must have somewhat of a purpose regardless of the story and the music, it has to be multi-faceted in that sense. It can’t just be, ‘I wrote this song just because I wrote it’. I feel like it’s got to have a level that people can understand, and then another deeper underlying level that you understand and when you write from the heart and how you feel, music always comes out better instead of writing just to make a good hit.
“There’s too many people in the music game that I know of and I’m like, ‘Bro, you’re saying all of this, but it’s not you. Just be honest. I can trace it back to the people who really know you and they can confirm that what you’re saying isn’t true and the persona you’re giving out isn’t you, it’s just some fake ego you’ve made’.”
In photographs and when engaging in his musical endeavours, Casttro wears a mask, covering his face and identity. “My whole thing with wearing a mask is not because I’m in drill or do grime or any of that shit, I just prefer to have my own privacy. I like to be able to control that. One thing I’ve learned is that you need to be able to have creative control over a lot of things, not to sound like Kanye or whatever, but you’ve got to have control over that, and my image is one of the biggest things I need to have control over, and I need my privacy.
“I prefer to stay anonymous in terms of my face and with my name as well. The name Casttro kind of came from Fidel Castro, the former president of Cuba, because they tried to assassinate him, like, 700 times and they couldn’t get him. I feel like, in terms of the music, people try to get you down – not actually assassinate you – but try to downplay you or say, ‘Yeah this guy just sounds nice, but his music is nothing’. You’ve got to get used to hearing that and going through it.”
Casttro says he’s been focusing on a range of projects and working them to be ready for announcement. “I’m working on some things at the moment, it’s all in the development stages because I’m still kind of in that space where I’m trying to find my sound. I know what I want to sound like, and I know what I want to be like, but I’m still trying to find that perfect thing and I’m falling in love with experimenting and just trying any type of beat, any type of flow, any time of story. I’m just trying to figure it out, but I’m really having fun at the moment, trying new things and seeing if it works.”
Although he loves socialising with like-minded people, Casttro explains the feeling of contentment when working on his music alone. “You get in those moments where you’re in the studio and there’s no thoughts, you just feel the music and you write something crazy right there and then and it’s like, damn. If I wasn’t writing alone, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. It’s a big thing going out of your comfort zone.”
Casttro’s priority is getting his music released and having his name heard. “I just want to build my catalogue up. Tell the people to stay tuned, I’m gonna lie dormant for a little bit but there’s a lot of things happening behind the scenes but you’re going to slowly start seeing things popping up here and there,” he says.
“I’m playing the long-term game. You can rush into something and not do it right or take that little extra time and drop things when they’re perfect. It’s all about the timing and all about the scene as well. Perth is changing, it’s getting better in terms of music. A lot of people are starting to understand, for us to be as good as the other cities we have got to work together. People are starting to move in a more cohesive way. Before it felt like Perth was stuck as this underground music place and everyone is just focusing on their own.
“Your sound is never going to grow if you think you’re the best and there’s no ladder to measure who is better than who. Work together and then you’ll slowly start to see Perth city climb because in terms of music, we’re nowhere near Melbourne and Sydney and other cities. They’ve got the scene and record labels that we don’t have, but I’d say in terms of talent, we can get to that level.”
Photo 1 by @plusfriends_, Photo 2 & 3 by @jerrysfilm_
Words & Interview by Liv Declerck