Taken from the Winter 2020 issue of Wonderland. Pre-order your copy now.
Just weeks after releasing their debut single “On Me”, I caught up with up-and-coming Californian-based duo Castles about what’s behind their “angsty alt-pop” sound. Discussing their future goals and what inspires them, the main thing that comes across is the pair’s overwhelming ambition, with Sonny telling me: “I don’t want to make music that will be forgotten in a year from now.” Describing their music as “heavy distorted sounds” that draw on “life experience”, it’s clear that this experimental new band defies genre stereotypes.
Music runs deep in the blood of both band members, and was a huge part of the childhoods that Sonny and Jacob reminisce about. When I ask when they knew they wanted to pursue music as a career, they’re adamant that it’s been their dream since pre-school; Sonny claims he remembers “being a little kid at preschool and thinking about performing music,” Jacob adding that he knew by the age of seven that he’d “always wanted to be a popstar.” Throughout their youth, they both went on to listen primarily to electronic music, which, combined with rap, informed their musical education.
I’m struck by the duo’s evident ability to compromise, and when I ask how they chose the band name. Jacob cites Lil Peep and Lil Tracey’s 2016 EP series “Castles”, telling me how he “consider[s] both of them great influences.” Sonny admits that, for him, this project wasn’t as much of an identifier, but he liked the name because “it was just androgynous, and not exclusive.” On everything else, they seem to have an almost freakishly similar outlook, both sharing an overriding desire for their music to leave a lasting impression. When I ask what they want people to feel when their music’s played, Sonny’s succinct answer — “something” — sums up their responses perfectly.
With the recent release of their first single, and more music on the way, it’s not surprising that when asked what they’d do if today was their last day alive, both respond that they’d love a day to just chill. Despite having never played a gig together as Castles, the pair are buzzing about doing so, with Sonny’s long-term goal being to recreate the kind of atmosphere Queen did when they played Live Aid in 1985. It’s hard not to be impressed by the band’s ambition and self-belief, and they’ll definitely be one to watch in the upcoming months.