Marco Castillo was surrounded by music as a child. His father was a musician so people were always playing music and rehearsing around him. He first picked up a guitar when he was 10 years old and taught himself to play by listening to music and playing it back. He says, “I was playing on my own until I was 22 years old before I studied music at the university in Rio. At that point, I was already playing professionally.”
Wordly Roots (Profiles in World Music): Marco Castillo
I talk to Marco Castillo about musical inspirations, the creative process and how he stays motivated.
All of the music that Castillo heard growing up helped shaped his musical vision. He listened to everything from classical music through great Brazilian composers to Chick Corea and even Led Zepplin. One of his strongest influences was a Brazilian composer named Hermeto Pascoal.
Castillo explains, “Hermeto is a Brazilian musical genius. He’s a brilliant composer and multi-instrumentalist. He’s one of the biggest influences on me in terms of how I approach music and connect to it.”
In his own compositions, Castillo explores a wide variety of musical styles. He’s particularly interested in less well-known Brazilian rhythms. He says, “I’m very interested in the rhythms from the north of Brazil. My dad is from that area. My song Forro No Canada which I wrote to represent Brazil at Viña Del Mar* uses the forro rhythm from northern Brazil. Forro is not only a style of music but it’s the whole package including dance.”
However, Castillo’s musical interests are broader ranging than that. He adds, “I’m not really attached to a specific genre of music. On my two latest albums, I have one or two songs that are pop oriented. I mix all my influences from Brazil with modern jazz. I consider my music to be world music.”
Composing is something for which Castillo likes to have specific inspirations. Sometimes songs come to him while he’s sleeping. He points out, “Sometimes I have to wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and get into the studio so I can make sure I’m getting the feel I want. It’s lots of hard work. Sometimes I have a little motif that I like and I start to develop it. I explore all of the possibilities!”
Not only does Castillo compose his own music, but he produces his own albums as well. He says, “ I can do whatever I want that way. Sometimes I record the drumming, keyboards, percussion and bass by myself. Sometimes I have just one guest and I like this approach.”
He continues, “I’ve learned that I need a deadline otherwise I’ll still be adding things and mixing it and it never ends. I need to book a venue for a CD release otherwise I’ll keep doing it forever.”
The Winnipeg music scene comes in for praise from Castillo. He says, “Winnipeg looks like a small city but there’s lots of activity and lots of venues that have music so I think it’s a good place for me to live. There’s lots of opportunities here but you have to find them. “
In the future, Castillo wants to share his music more widely with Canada and the world. He says, “I would like to play as many festivals as I can. I like festivals because it gives me a chance to share my music with so many different people.”
One issue that Castillo highlights for musicians is the proliferation of platforms for distributing music online. He says, “If you’re getting $0.70 per song you’d have to sell millions of songs to make any money. It’s so much work when you produce an album with so many hours spent that I’m not sure I want to give it away. I’m glad because I’m still selling CDs. I have three CDs out and I’m still selling CDs every time I’m performing. I think that’s what counts.”
Inspiration and motivation to make music comes from a deep place for Castillo. He explains, “We are part of the music of the universe and we harmonize with people. We feel their vibe. When I get inspiration to write a song, it just comes from the love you feel, from a bad feeling or a happiness or that’s still coming and I know it’ll keep coming until I die. It’s a matter of figuring out what to do with it or how to put your words there and make people feel what you feel.”
For more information on Marco Castillo, please visit his website here.
This interview with Marco Castillo was conducted and recorded on July 21, 2016.