21 November 2022

5 Minutes with Cailin Russo: The pop experimentalist on being Grammy nominated and switching up the artist hustle

HUNGER catches up with the enigmatic artist following the release of her latest single, ‘Die Down.’

Cailin Russo has repeatedly proved that she’s not intimidated by the notion of reinvention. The LA-based musician rose into the spotlight as a successful model before starting her eponymous punk band, RUSSO. But over the past couple of years, Russo has embarked on her own journey as a solo artist – and she’s certainly been catching the eye of many. The star has become a staple for those who prefer their pop music to hold an air of experimentation, attitude and unfiltered expression. Her talents haven’t gone unnoticed by music’s elite either; she recently became a Grammy-nominated artist for her work on Kanye West’s Donda, where she contributed as a songwriter on ‘Hurricane.’ 

Russo has cemented herself as an incredibly progressive artist, a self-confessed video game geek with a strong infatuation with the virtual world. Her 2019 track ‘Phoenix’ – a collaboration with the massively popular online game League of Legends – has amassed over 140 million streams and is a prime example of Russo’s ability to transcend communities. Fast forward to 2022, and the musician has recently released her latest single, ‘Die Down.’ The track sees Russo delve into the isolation one can feel after finding an intense connection. The production is gloomy yet enticing, laced with eerie synths alongside Russo’s layered, ghostly vocals. Here, HUNGER sits down with the multi-hyphenate to discuss her latest single, being Grammy nominated and her artistic evolution.

How would you say your music has evolved over the past few years?  

I feel like the sound and expression in my music has become more fine tuned. The musical collaboration has been much more in sync with the music I actually listen to. It’s naturally gotten stronger as an extension of me. 

What is currently inspiring you?

Pain, love and acting. I was recently very touched by the love between the prison guard and prisoner in Wes Anderson’s French Dispatch. I think because it’s so uncomfortable and left unresolved.

How would you describe your current creative process?

My current creative process is interesting because I’m challenging myself to see life as more of a creative journey. I am practising seeing things differently and switching up the hustle of being an artist in 2022.

How did your latest single, ‘Die Down,’ come about?

My latest single, ‘Die Down,’ came from us trying to make a come-down record, waiting for drugs to alleviate. But that concept was quite grim, so we made the story about star-crossed lovers who let the world fall apart. 

Do you ever feel nervous just before you release a new track?

It depends on my emotional attachment to the record. I seek no exterior pats on the back for anything I drop, so it’s all an internal experience. I usually feel really excited or really upset.

Are there any sounds you’re looking to explore in the future?

am excited to get into my jazz/feist bag. I want to make music with 070 Shake.

Who has been on your playlist recently?

Honestly just a whole lot of King Krule.

What album had the biggest impact on you growing up?

I think No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom impacted me the most growing up, although I’ve never thought about it before now.

What song would you play to get a party started?

‘My Band’ by D12.

What would you say has been the most surreal moment of your career so far?

Becoming Grammy-nominated and writing on a Grammy-winning song was the most surreal experience of my career so far. 

Have you had any difficult moments in the industry or any big learning curves?

No, I’m a woman in the music industry. It’s been a breeze! Just Kidding! The biggest learning curve for me this year has been knowing your worth. 

What’s the goal for Cailin Russo?

My biggest goals are to win best new artist at the Grammys, get the cover of Rolling Stone and make my show experience as bewitching as Rosalía’s live show (in my own way, of course). I also have goals of giving back to young people and artists and helping them pave the way. I would like to be more of a service to others.  

  • Writer Chris Saunders

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