Bright, Talented, confident, and very hardworking. Taylor Castro is one of the most passionate and interesting up-and-coming figures you’ll come across in any medium. Her body of work stems from a love of writing and literature; she’s a screenwriter, actress, and of course, a fantastic songwriter with a voice wisened beyond her years that pulls you into her world with ease.
Her latest single/music video is called “Muse With A Dagger” and today you have the chance to read her thoughts regarding her love of writing, acting, and the inspiring power of greek myth and the Barbie Cinematic Universe:
It’s hard not to be Wowed by how profound “Muse With A Dagger” is. Is it purely creative narrative? Is it a personal story? or is it inspired by this ultra-divided period we live in?
Thank you so much! While songwriting, it’s a common occurrence that the song’s original thesis is thrown away in pursuit of wherever the lyrics lead. With that in mind, Muse with a Dagger began with the intention of telling a personal narrative. The story, however, began taking on a life of its own. I quickly realized that the narrative I was crafting fit in with the other stories I’ve been telling like a puzzle piece. It wasn’t until all of the songs on the album were written that I was able to fit the pieces together and create a cohesive image. That grand image, if you will, is and always will be an allegory for society. Everything I’ve ever written is, some crafted with more intention than others. I want all of my lyrics to forever be open for interpretation, but Muse with a Dagger is one of the most allegorical songs on the album and it’s definitely my take on divisions within society, wherever that may lead your mind to.
Your upcoming album is going to be a concept album, that seems like a monumental creative endeavor. How do you replenish your creative energies to put something like that together at such a young age?
Honestly, the thought of creating anything other than a concept album has never occurred to me. I knew that my debut album PURE would center around my pursuit to remember who I am before society attempted alterations. I was fifteen when I began that album and, coming into my sophomore album, it seemed necessary to form a bridge between the two records or eras. The goal is for my personal narrative to shine through my discography. In that, nothing is unintentional. I’ve been fortunate for a lot of my ideas to show up on their own. Oftentimes, education plays a huge role in that. Reading fairytales, novels, plays, or history books can really help inspire a new story. At the end of the day, all of these stories are the same thing: drama. Drama can be the best source of inspiration. Recently, I’ve noticed myself and some around me feeling uninspired. I’m not immune to that, but a songwriter must keep writing regardless. It is vital for a writer to keep writing like it’s vital for a body to keep drinking water. Like a tin man with oil, our creativity and imagination rusts when it’s not exercised. Because of this, when I’m feeling uninspired, I’ll turn to shows, films, and novels to inspire “point of view” songs. They’re great for TikTok and they’re a great exercise for anyone who’s feeling uninspired.
If we hadn’t caught on with “Abyss” and “Ophelia’s Flower”, “Muse” certainly makes it clear that you’re wearing classic Greek mythology and literature on your sleeve as an influence. Where does that love come from?
I’m so glad you noticed. I have an obsession with allusions. Here’s why: writing is about saying the most with the least. This is especially true with songwriting. Let’s use, for example, my allusion to Apollo on Abyss. With one hand, I’m immediately putting out an established set of ideas and aesthetics just by referencing the son of Zeus. Rather than describing this golden boy who’s both poetic and loved by most in the span of a whole verse, I can just say “Apollo” and people understand that archetype. With the other hand, and this is perhaps the most beautiful part of alluding to timeless stories, my work immediately takes part in a long line of folk tales adapted from an age old idea. To me, there’s always been something so special about that connection to legends of the past. This feeling only intensified as my education expanded from watching classic fairytale adaptations growing up to playing Ophelia and directing Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses in acting class during high school to studying the psychology of monsters in the classics as a literature major during my first year of college. I believe the power of those stories comes from a strong history of belief. Belief is what creates our reality and it’s what life imitates. Therefore, alluding to timeless tales immediately brings new work to life and infuses it with history. It’s really something very special.
Speaking of things that are evident, Your love of -and talent for- acting is not lost on us, this video is your most cinematic yet, and you seemed to have had a direct hand in its concept and direction. Tell us a bit about the behind-the-scenes.
I’ve always loved acting and filmmaking so music videos are definitely one of my favorite parts in the process of creating music. In the music video for Muse with a Dagger, I had a lot of fun world-building. I had already put the album’s story together and I knew it took place at Olympian Heritage High School. My original idea was basically a live-action version of what turned out to be the lyric video. Sword fighting and all that, however, was definitely not realistic with our time frame and budget. After talking to the director, Josiah Sampson, and walking the property, we decided to lean more towards the aftermath of everything that has already happened in the full story. At one point, Josiah referenced a Fight Club concept and I immediately bit the bait. The idea is that Ophelia keeps seeing this vision of Apollo although the battle is long over. She just keeps fighting with the part of her she confuses for him. I thought it was brilliant. I will say, in terms of filming, that the water scene was pretty difficult. It was freezing and my ears were in so much pain. I think it was worth it though.
As far as your acting goes: What’s next for you? Are you looking for new film/Tv opportunities as soon as you have the time, or will you be focusing on your music for the time being?
Right now, apart from music, I’m in school to study film and dramatic writing. While I continue putting myself on tape for auditions, I’ve been writing my own screenplays that I intend to produce and star in sometime in the near future. I’m very fortunate to love every part of the filmmaking process equally and to have the means to make those dreams a reality. Seeing my scripts come to life is something I’m very excited about. It does, however, make me cautious. From what I’ve noticed, film is analyzed and critiqued more than any other art medium. It’s important to me that people understand how serious I am about pursuing writing in itself, apart from the way I sing or how big I’ve made my role. Writing isn’t just a means to an end for me. Writing is the goal. It’s what connects everything I do. I just also happen to love acting and singing so why not do it all? And I know what you’re thinking so here’s the answer: yes, I do insist on doing all of the work in my group projects at school.
Any favorite film genres?
If I’m being honest, I’m a sucker for my childhood comfort movies. It’s actually embarrassing. I’ll be in film class and everyone’s raving about Memento or Taxi Driver. Then, I’m just there like “ok, but have you guys ever watched Barbie as the Island Princess?” I can defend myself too. I’ve literally written an entire thesis on why the Barbie cinematic universe is brilliant. It really just brings me a lot of joy defending the underdogs of cinema. So many people in this world like things because everyone else does or, sometimes, because no one else does. You really have to fight to defend what you like even at the risk of ridicule from those you respect. If not, you’ll never be genuine. If you’re never genuine, you’re never free. So, yes, I love films simultaneously targeted towards children and adults. You’ll find that they often use allegories to tell a layered story and, as we all know, I’m a sucker for a good allegory. I love Disney, especially their renaissance and experimental eras. Pixar is, of course, included in that family. Studio Ghibli is beyond brilliant. All of that being said, I will however admit that film school has influenced my taste a bit. I’ve found a great deal of love for films like The Florida Project, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Eighth Grade, and The Truman Show. In terms of the screenplays I actually write, they’re naturally much more along those lines.
What’s that one movie you always seem to watch over and over again?
One of my favorite films is actually Cinderella (2015). When it was first out in theaters, I kept coming back again and again because I couldn’t believe how magical and moving it was. I think I saw it maybe five or so times in theaters and I’ve watched it multiple times since then. It’s a story I never get tired of hearing told in the way it’s always been meant to but never quite was. I also always rewatch my comfort movies. Rather than films that are the dark kind of deep, my comfort films relieve my anxiety and remind me of my core motivations. Some of them are also still deep, but the water is so clear that some people can’t comprehend that possibility. Some of those comfort movies I always rewatch are The Princess Diaries, Howl’s Moving Castle, A Cinderella Story, Cheaper by the Dozen, Spirited Away, Meet the Robinsons, Beauty and the Beast, Legally Blonde, Ratatouille, Tinker Bell, and pretty much the entire Barbie cinematic universe.
We took a look at the comment section of many of your Youtube music videos and we were pleasantly surprised when we saw many comments in Spanish and Portuguese. Have you noticed this? What are your thoughts on having already cultivated such an audience across language barriers?
I think it’s an incredible, cool thing! I’m really fortunate to have people interested in my work from all around the world. Like all the folklore I’ve been talking about, those same stories show up across continents because they’re universal themes that all humans relate to. There’s not much that’s more beautiful than that.
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photos / courtesy of artist
story / Samuel Aponte