The sultry summer night hits your sticky skin. Precise guitar plucks strung together flow to you, warm and sweet like molasses—the evening is golden. You can’t find the breeze, the air is still, and for once that’s alright— because you’re on the patio with a glass of sangria.
Those sweet fleeting feelings are conjured like a spell from Myles Castillo’s namesake single “Sangria,” and its gorgeous hand-plucked ostinatos are the seamless backdrop to the video, which dropped today.
Myles is not one to let a summer go wasted: he’s stayed busy on the Canada Day House Party lineup alongside Dvsn in July, and is coming off of a slew of virtual performances in what’s shaping up to be a typical tour schedule in our new normal. All of this atop the endless splendour of a debut EP Excess, with a sun-drenched “Sangria” video that builds into Castillo’s trademark aesthetic that celebrates some things that we’ve lost but is still hopeful for the future, too.
We caught up with Myles to chat heartbreak playlists, his past life as a gymnast, and the surrealism of Scarborough.
What was it like doing a virtual tour?
This was a chance for me to keep playing and doing shows despite everything that’s going on. It was really fun, especially as a first experience.
What was your favourite venue?
In terms of the buildings and the vibes, I liked the EXIT/IN [in Nashville].
Why that one in particular?
I loved the way it looked. When I was going through their Instagram when I took over the accounts, I loved the escape vibe and the setup and everything.
There are obviously some Spanish influences in your latest single “Sangria.” Talk me through where you drew your inspiration from.
I went to university to study languages. I studied French and Spanish, and I spent a lot of time in Mexico. I go there every year to see friends. “Sangria” was an idea that started when I was last down there, and I finished up the project when I came back home. So “Sangria” definitely has that Spanish influence, and it comes through to some of the other songs coming up off this project, too.
You mention that you like the “pockets of songs.” What does that mean for you? And what draws you to those moments in music?
It’s more the space between the beat. It’s a chance for the artist to occupy that space more than the listener hearing the music. I like to find that pocket and space where there’s nothing. And when there’s a good amount of it, with the right timing—that’s kind of what I look for when I listen to beats and music.
“Five minutes from my house you can find any kind of food you want. I think growing up like that and having different friends from different neighbourhoods gives that surrealism. It keeps your creativity fresh.”
What does the production process look like for this?
In terms of writing and creating… I think coming up with melodies and stuff has been a lot. I used to worry more about the music-making part of it, but I’ve just been trying different approaches with writing. It helps me come up with new melody ideas, new ways of arranging things together.
What are some of the favourite collaborations you’ve taken on with this project?
I got the idea for this project when I was in Mexico. So when I came back to Canada, I did this writing camp out on one of the reserves up north, like two hours out of Toronto. There’s a big studio out there, and I was working with this other producer named Mya. We started kind of just jamming out with the guitar and a song just came from that session. That was probably one of my favourite more natural moments: there were sparks and whole songs built from it. We would just start humming melodies and it could snowball into a track. It’s great what kind of music comes when there are no rules. There’s no “Oh, you’re the artist, you’re a producer, you’re the writer, you’re the manager.” I like it when things are just person to person. You end up feeling like you’re kind of the same person in terms of personalities and humour or feelings and then you end up doing good work.
Talk to us about the music video for “Sangria”!
In most of my other videos, you got a model, or there’s someone else to interact with… but for this one, it was just me the whole time. I was doing stuff that I normally do: in the video, I’m outdoors, I’m riding my bike, running, whatever and it’s just… cool. I think it’s a cool thing to show people that side of me. I really liked the nature aspect of it, of being outside.
What stories do you find making their way into your music?
Personally, I like to have this voice that has a surreal undertone. So it sounds like it’s very real world, and they’re concepts that you can relate to real life, but I always like to have this undertone of a song that I’m singing that has its own space that’s not really meant to be so tangible, that’s more of an idea.
Do you think there’s anything about growing up in Scarborough that plays on that surrealism?
I think it helps because it’s a very diverse place. There’s every type of culture there. Five minutes from my house you can find any kind of food you want. I think growing up like that and having different friends from different neighbourhoods gives that surrealism. It keeps your creativity fresh, and that can be having a Spanish influence in your music, or… whatever kind of influence, like in some other songs I’m doing. I think being surrounded by that gives you more creativity in anything that you do to be even more outside the box.
Any fave haunts to peep live music in Scarborough? In Toronto?
We have this place in Scarborough Town Centre where they do a Caribbean festival, which is really great. In Toronto, I like to check out concerts at Danforth Music Hall.
You’ve been making music since you were 13. How did you get into making music? What’s your musical journey been?
I was aiming to be a professional athlete. I got into a sports school and then I broke my arm. I ended up having to take time off, so I had half the day to just kind of sit at home… so I ended up picking up a guitar and started playing it. From there I took lessons and started writing songs and then I wrote music, made beats, recorded myself… Now that I’m in it, I realized I was always into it. I had moments where I would ask my friends if I was a good singer. I always was one of those people that had my anthems for the gym and had all different playlists for when I’m sad and heartbroken. I think I had a passion for it that was always there, and I broke my arm when I was pursuing gymnastics and then I fully switched over. If I hadn’t I probably would still be doing gymnastics.
Curious: you say you make a mean playlist. What’s your heartbreak anthem?
“Take Care” by Drake.