HLN Meets the Musician: Chloe Castro
We chat to the Durham local about why she never became an astronaut, what The Voice UK was really like, how she uses Alicia Keys to make people cry, and just how she gets her soulful R&B-trap vibes so…sassy.
There’s no other word for it, guys – Chloe Castro is cool.
Ever since she came to our attention back in 2016 on BBC One’s The Voice UK, (she was Team Ricky, FYI), we knew this soulful singer-songwriter had everything she needed to go all the way in the music industry. But what we really love about her? She’s taking her time – and getting it right.
These last few years have seen Chloe knuckle down on defining what the core of her music is all about. Together with the help of her producer and co-writer, Jake Karno, Chloe set up a DIY studio in her bedroom and only began independently releasing music from April 2019 – making sure that what it is she was writing about, and how she was creating her inimitable sound, was just right.
Quickly catching the attention of BBC Radio dons Huw Stephens and Tom Robinson with her first single, ‘Drunk’ – and gaining a fair bit of time on the national airwaves in the process – Chloe self-released her debut EP, AMID, in October of last year. The result? Bagging herself a highly sought-after spot on BBC Introducing’s Tips for 2021 – and attracting a loyal and ever-growing legion of ‘Castroholics’.
Now, it seems Chloe is on the brink of something monumental. Armed with sass, sensitivity and soul, as well as a powerhouse of a voice (Ricky Wilson won’t turn his chair for just anyone, y’know), Chloe’s ready to start the next chapter of her musical story – and we were lucky enough to be right there with her for the first page.
Despite a childhood spent living between France, Brazil and Wales, it’s the North East Chloe calls home – which is why we thought it would be a cracking idea to catch up over a few fizzy pops at the iconic Jesmond Dene House, chew the fat about her career so far, look ahead to her first North East gig post-lockdown this weekend, and get a HLN exclusive performance of Chloe’s brand new single, ‘Future’…
When did you first realise you had a talent for music?
Music has been the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do. Apart from when I was really young and I wanted to be an astronaut, but I somehow knew that was never going to happen! And deep down, I think I’ve always known that what I really wanted was to be a singer.
I guess I first realised I could sing when I was about 11. I’d always done little performances and dance shows for my family, so ever since a young age I’d been performing. But it was from around 11 that I realised I really wanted to do it properly. I remember singing Alicia Key’s ‘No-One’ to this lady and I made her cry! Ever since then I’ve thought, actually, maybe I can sing. And having that effect on someone made me realise why I wanted to pursue music as a career in the first place.
When did you start writing songs?
When I was about 12 or 13. But I never really played an instrument back then, so I was just writing lyrics and melodies. I never wrote a full song until I was 16 and I first picked up a guitar. That was when I really started working on my music and writing a lot more.
Where do you find inspiration?
For me, inspiration comes from everywhere – the things you get up to, the people you meet, the places you go. Everything inspires me. Even just little conversations that I have with people; it can sometimes just be a sentence that someone says and I’ll go off and write a song about it. Sometimes inspiration isn’t there when you think you need it, then other times it just hits you in the face!
You spent your childhood between Brazil. France and Wales. Why did you settle in the North East?
A lot of people ask me why I’ve ended up in the North East – I sometimes ask myself that! – but it’s family. My Nan has lived up here for a while now so when me and my Mum left Wales, we basically moved home with my Nan, who’s in Durham. We weren’t planning on staying, but we never left! It’s where I’ve grown up.
How would you describe the North East’s music scene?
There’s a hell of a lot of talent here! And it feels like it’s overlooked, or that we’re a different country in ourselves. I feel like we get forgotten about sometimes, in the wider music scene of the UK. I’ve met so many super-talented people here in the North East that it’s hard to understand why we’re not in the mainstream media more. We’ve got an amazing folk and punk scene, in particular.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
As a kid, I always listened to Amy Winehouse. The way she sings has definitely inspired me. But as I’ve grown up, I’d say my favourite artists are PARTYNEXTDOOR and Frank Ocean. I’m also quite inspired by Jessie Reyez, she’s got a lot of attitude! I like what she writes about a lot.
You reached the quarter finals of The Voice in 2016. How would describe that experience?
The Voice was mad! It was something I’d always wanted to do, ever since I was a kid. When I was about 12, I went for Britain’s Got Talent, twice! Then when I hit 16 I went for X Factor. Then I went for The Voice three times, and I got through on that third time. So I never really expected it by the time it actually happened!
The show gave me so much confidence. I met loads of people and it was a great platform. But now I’m trying to break away from that, in a way, and become my own person, my own artist, who releases my own music!
Speaking of your music, you released your debut EP last year. For those who haven’t heard it yet, how would you describe AMID?
When people ask me what genre I work in, I always say R&B/trap/soul. AMID is quite broad, in the sense that it’s got a few different types of song on it – one’s quite rappy, whereas the intro track is a lot more laidback and soulful. I’m trying to really hone in on my sound now, as I move forward.
You’re giving us an exclusive performance of your brand new single, ‘Future’. Is that single the start of a new chapter for you?
Yeah, ‘Future’ is my first single since my debut EP. I’m super excited! And it’s definitely the start of me finding my sound. I was still experimenting with AMID, so with ‘Future’ I feel like I’ve come into my own. I feel ready to release more music and really get myself out there now!
I’m supporting zela at The Georgian Theatre in Stockton this Saturday (31st July) which is my first proper gig since lockdown! It’s going to be amazing.
What advice would you give other women in the North East who may want to pursue a career in music?
I’d say just do it! Honestly, the only thing you can do is get yourself out there. But also, get the right team behind you. You can’t do it all on your own – I’m learning that myself! You need to have a team of people who really care about you and what you do and also who believe in what you’re doing. But yeah, if music’s your passion, then do it – you never know what’ll happen!
What’s your ultimate career goal?
My ultimate career goal isn’t anything specific, like playing a certain festival or whatever. I mean, one of my goals is to be playing festivals generally! But that coincides with my ultimate goal of being an established artist. To be able to tour, to have people buying tickets to see my show, that’s one of my main goals. And just to be able to live comfortably doing what I love. That’s the dream!
Where’s your dream gig?
SXSW Festival in Texas.
Who was your first gig?
What was the first album you bought?
Talk That Talk by Rihanna.
What songs or artists got you through the pandemic?
PARTYNEXTDOOR. I’ve just never stopped listening to his album, PARTYMOBILE, since it came out during lockdown!
If you could go back in time to one musical decade, which would it be and why?
I’d stay here, I wouldn’t go back. I think music is always evolving and is at its peak of experimentation now – there are all types of music out there at the minute, so I feel like now is the best time to find good music.
Who would you most like to duet with (alive or dead)?
Can I pick one person who’s alive and one person who’s dead…?!
If I could duet with one person who’s passed away, it would definitely be Amy Winehouse. Otherwise, it would be Col3trane, who is one of my favourite artists at the moment. He has been for a while. He just makes the most intricate melodies. I’d love to collaborate with him.
What album could you listen to on repeat forever?
Blonde by Frank Ocean.
What song would you love to record a cover of?
‘SHOWING YOU’ by PARTYNEXTDOOR.
And one song you really wish you’d written yourself?
‘Ex Calling’ by 6lack.
Which local artist should really look out for?
Simba Shore. He’s an amazing drill artist and I think he’s going to pop off, so keep an eye out!