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In conversation with Cailin Russo

Find your inner Psycho Freak 

Enter the new era of Cailin Russo – the model-turned-popstar is here to deliver her eclectic indie-punk sound with fearlessness and an unprecedented vision. Building up to the cathartic release of her long-awaited album INFLUXthe artist has been busy unleashing pieces of her multi-dimensional personality, carving more and more of her own space on the scene with each drop. In light of her recent release, the club-infused hip-turning PSYCHO FREAK, we caught up with the musician to learn more. Drenched in the golden rays of LA’s morning sun, Russo tells us about her love for character-building, entry into music, and what we can expect from her vision in 2023 (spoiler: there will be a lot of mud).

Hey, lovely to speak to you! How are you today?

Today I’m good. I’m going to focus on myself. Just walking my dog now.

Ah sweet! What kind of dog do you have?

A chihuahua terrier! His name is Anchovy and he’s my best friend.

Omg love. He’s gorgeous. Jumping right into it – let’s begin with your journey in music. You’ve started in the modelling industry, how has that shaped your musical career?

Modelling segwayed me right into where I wanted to be. I had this best friend named Somaz who is a dope photographer, and he just introduced me to so many people. My music essentially began with my friend group I had from modelling, mixed with a couple lucky coincidences. It really showed me the different channels I could use and the personalities I could take on.

When was the exact moment you knew you wanted to make music?

There were a few. I remember one day I was about to go for a run in Silver Lake, and my friend just told me to make a decision. So I decided I wanted to make music. I called all my agencies and told them to take me off. You don’t make much money from music at first, so I soon called them back and was like “actually, I think I can do both”, haha.

Haha, I’m sure they were relieved. You’ve come a long way in music now, and congratulations on the release of PSYCHO FREAK ! I love the unapologetic force radiating from it. Tell me the story behind its creation.

Thank you! It’s actually my favourite story. It started in London, which is my favourite place. I’m not much of a party girl, but when I go out, I go out. I met up with an old manager of mine and both of us ended up blacking out. I don’t condone it, but it happened. I was so freaked out the next day, and when I got to the session, it turned out that both of my producers also had a big night. They’re dance producers, so I just thought “lets keep the party going!”. We got champagne, rolled into this super bubbly intoxicated state, and thought “what do we want to move our hips to right now?”. We wrote the hook in a few hours, the bassline came up first and then melodies after. It probably took like a year for me to connect all the lyrics, but yeah, we just had some champagne, listened to this song and danced in the room until 3 am.

I think the energy definitely translates!

I agree. That’s definitely not where I am mentally right now, but when I hear it now, it takes me back somewhere really fun and free.

I’m also a big fan of your visuals – especially the femme-fatale-video-game-character energy in Die Down. How do visuals come into your creative process?

My friend Rose Johansen was my creative collaborator, and I’m really happy to have had her help with guiding my vision. It takes a lot to make music and direct videos for it. I can conceptualise general feelings, storylines and colourways of the videos, but at that point I still needed some help. So Rose was like “I think you should reference this video game”, and I just trusted her. We really double downed with it, shot in a very beautiful studio. I’m really big into characters, not even video games themselves. If I am playing one, I’m more concerned with what character I’m going to choose. Rose’s references were just so cool and spot on. There is also a visual for the title track, it’s like a cherry on top of the die down video as well

Speaking of characters – tell me about your AVAVAV show. What was the experience of walking a metaverse runway like?

That came up so randomly, it just started with an email. They said they really liked the AI character work I’ve done in the past, and we connected over our shared love for fantasy space. It was a very easy process – I sent them two sets of images of my face and body, so that they could make me online. And yeah, I had the honour to walk the first metaverse fashion show! I had no idea what to expect, and it was so cool to see me walking out looking like a giant worm, haha.

Super interesting that you mention your AI work as well. What do you think the future in the metaverse holds, in particular in relation to music and fashion? How do you see your own artistry in that?

I think it’s definitely going to grow very quickly. There is a lot of figuring out as well – even with Web3, it’s still very much wild west, we know very little. Since COVID is done, I really hope that music and fashion go back to their roots – live experiences and making people feel something. I would hope that we get the metaverse to a level where it will also make people feel something. For example, I really love holograms, I think they’re so sick. I hope people connect to holograms! I guess you just have to make art so touching that it will surpass the tiny box you hold in your hand.

With that in mind, what do you hope to bring to the industry?

I want to bring uniqueness back. Following your own path and being fearless about it. I’m not trying to recreate anything, I’m trying to create.

On that note, is there anything you’re creating at the moment?

I’m working on a new project right now, and it’s going to drop very soon! It’s the one thing that keeps me going. It’s very fresh and there’s lots of piano.

Exciting! With this project and others to come – what is the vision you’re manifesting for 2023?

Earth. It’s a crazy answer, but that’s it, haha. It’s clay, it’s horses in the mud. Roots and wind. I really want you to be able to hear every instrument, and I hope to get my song-writing to be an uninhibited stream of consciousness.

Images courtesy of Cailin Russo

Words by Evita Shrestha