Whether you’re familiar with singer/songwriter Michael Castro or not, the fact is you should be because he’s ridiculously good. Whilst his sound could be described as acoustic with a folky-rock, sometimes poppy edge, you get the feeling that he could try his voice with any genre of music and he’d make it work. His voice emits an ease, a soothing and slightly husky quality that invites you in and holds you there, because you can’t help but keep listening. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Michael was featured on American Idol Season 8 and is the younger brother of American Idol Season 7 finalist, Jason Castro, though if you’re already acquainted with Michael you’ll know he’s way more than all of that.
He’s had music featured on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart and now he’s making a name for himself his way, through Youtube, as well as continuing to perform live. There’s something genuinely endearing about him both as a singer/songwriter and as a musician. His song covers set him apart from the Youtube masses, something which can be hard to achieve. As you can probably tell, I’m a fan… the world should join me. Michael answered our questions about Youtube, his musical influences and his house shows.
Q. First things first, can you give people who might not be familiar with you a small insight into your musical background? How did you get caught up in the world of music?
Michael: While i was living with my brother at college, he tried out for American Idol and got 4th place. He would always try and get me to sing things with him, but I never had any interest. After I saw how much being on Idol did for him, I decided I should try out in an effort to get out of college. I really had nothing to lose either way. I made it to Hollywood week and they aired my audition in season 8. I put up a music myspace with an awful cover of a James Morrison song, and within a week I had over 600,000 plays and 10,000 friends. Five months later I recorded my first EP, later toured with my brother, and have since released 2 more EP’s. (And yes, I got out of college.)
Q. You’ve released your own music and you’ve produced covers, which do you prefer doing? Does your own music give you more of a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment?
Michael: I’ve only been covering songs on YouTube for a few weeks, and it’s been a learning experience. Since music took off so fast for me I never really had time to learn any music other than what I write, so it’s nice. But nothing is as rewarding as making my own music and seeing how people respond to it.
Q. You obviously have a musical family, ever thought of releasing a ‘Castro Family’ collaborative album?
Michael: My brother and I have thrown around the idea before, but we’re both really busy in our own things at the moment. I’m sure we’ll do something in the future, but not any time soon. Hopefully we’ll be able to make some more covers together next time we’re in the same city..both of our fans really seemed to love that. Also this will give my sister some time to grow a bit. She’s got a lot of potential and she’s lately been wanting to get more into music.
Q. What artists do you draw inspiration from?
Michael: When I started making music, I was really only listening to Gavin Degraw, James Morrison, and Ray Lamontagne. Obviously by now I’ve taken inspiration from a lot more artists, but I’d say still mainly those three.
Q. Is there a certain genre of music that influences you most?
Michael: Different genres influence me at different times. It’s nice to be independent and be able to record whatever sound I feel like. I actually just got finished recording a reggae type song I’m pretty proud of. Once my YouTube channel grows a bit more I plan on recording a new single every month and releasing it with a video. I expect to explore a lot of different genres!
Q. You have a youtube project I guess you’d call it, where you aim to record a new youtube video every week and upload it. How do you pick songs to cover? Do you have a list or is it a sort of ‘whatever takes your fancy on that particular day’ method?
Michael: It’s a little of both…when I hear a song I think I could cover well, I do put it on a list, but it’s really what I feel like doing that day. The list is more for safety in case I don’t find anything I’m really into that week. For the most part I try to cover songs that are current or still on the rise.
Q. The majority of your videos have thousands of views, how does that make you feel?
Michael: It’s nice to know that every time I put up a video it’ll get thousands of views considering I just reached 4,100 subscribers…but it also makes me anxious to get more subscribers and hundreds of thousands of views! It’s really rewarding to watch something grow when you’re working so hard on it. I’m still refreshing my channel several times a day to see if I’ve gained a new subscriber…and I feel like throwing a party every time i get one! It’s crazy to think that just a few weeks ago I was at only 2,500 subscribers.
Q. So people can book you to play in their house…which is an amazing idea! Tell us how it works…
Michael: Basically I started this because I was having a hard time booking venues. I knew I had a large fan base that wanted to hear me, and I wanted to go play…so basically I just use someones house as a venue. Everyone who comes to the show pays a cover, but it’s totally relaxed and I just get to hang out and jam with people who enjoy my music. It’s a really intimate way to connect with people and everyone benefits from it.
Q. Can we get you playing at houses in the UK?
Michael: I would love to come do a house show tour in the UK! If I had enough leads I would totally do it. If anyone is interested, they can email MCHouseShows@gmail.com and my booking agent will give them all the details.
Q. What do you have planned for the near future?
Michael: My main priority at this point is growing a YouTube channel and releasing monthly singles. In the future, if all goes well I’d like to be releasing a single every 2 weeks!
You can listen to Michael’s covers at – www.youtube.com/user/TheMichaelCastro