Following a soulful and powerful performance as the opener for Cat Power at The UC Theatre, we had the supreme pleasure of speaking with the wonderful Jade Castrinos. Two years have passed since Castrinos’ departure from the band she helped to create, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, but any negative vestiges of this break seemed long gone as she took the stage with what seemed to be a renewed spirit and vigor. This recent Berkeley performance exuded a warmth and charisma that remain characteristic of her music and voice. Regardless of the fact that she was playing a myriad of exciting new songs, Castrinos’ voice washed a wave of familiarity over the audience. Her kindhearted and seemingly kindred spirit pervade through her performance, her new music, and through her answers to the questions we had the opportunity of asking her.
You were a co-founder, songwriter, musician, and vocalist with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros from 2009 until your exit from the band in 2014. Over the last couple of years, how has this transition from band member to solo artist been? Have you enjoyed this change?
Leaving Edward Sharpe was a tough decision, but there is always a gift when you let go and trust life…I learned so much from that experience and I will always be very grateful for it. Making music has been my dream since I was a little girl and I plan on making music for the rest of my time on earth, come hell or high water.
In a few of your recent Instagram posts, you’ve alluded to the creation of some new music; we’re very excited to hear it! How’s it coming along? Is there anything in the works?
There is so much in the works! I actually went to a songwriter’s retreat in April at the Almanack Arts Colony on Nantucket and that experience really lit a fire in my heart as far as music is concerned. I also met some wonderful people whom I will love and appreciate for the rest of my life.
Which musicians/artists have you been listening to lately? Have some inspired you in the creation of new music?
Beach House has been a constant for the last 10 years- Victoria Legrand is without a doubt one of my favorite singers of all time. Same goes for Cat Power and Fiona Apple. Radiohead and Rihanna are very dear to my heart as well and it goes without saying that the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell are my OG favorites. All of these bands and artists have shaped me in ways that I’m probably not even aware of.
What kind of sound can we expect from your new work?
I’m pretty open to trying new things out. So, there’s that…But no matter how far out I venture, it always comes back to a voice and a guitar – that’s the way most of the songs are written to begin with. I do love a dreamy synth, though.
Is there anything particularly different about your new material?
It’s definitely different. My newer songs are much more personal. A few of them are secret songs that I wrote on the back of the tour bus when I was too shy to play them for anyone.
Where are you drawing most of your inspiration from?
The most recent song that came through is about a friend I love very much who passed away. He has found his way into most of my songs over the years. I think that beauty, and loss, and trauma, and always, love are what drive me creatively.
As far we know, you’ve played a few shows here and there, but haven’t announced any formal tour dates. Is your support of Cat Power at The UC Theatre in Berkeley a sign of more frequent performances to come?
First of all, opening for Cat Power was more than a dream come true. I hope to start playing live again as much as possible. I actually live for it, haha. I will definitely post about any upcoming shows on Instagram.
What’s your favorite part about touring? Can you think of a show you’ve played recently that was especially fun/interesting?
My favorite part about touring is everything. I feel happiest when I’m traveling and playing music. Life makes sense all of a sudden. The last two shows I played opening for Cat Power were some of the happiest moments of my life to date. She is a true blue heroine and I look up to her in many ways and it’s truly surreal to be in her midst.
Is there a memory of your recent touring/travels that you feel has inspired your new music?
Well, I actually started to write a song about Chan [Cat Power]. There was this moment when I was watching her set in Berkeley. She sang this lyric, “all the things we have to go through with smiles on our faces,” and that alone cracked me right open (I don’t think I have ever seen her sing without crying) but then right after she sang it, she waved to me. I don’t even know if she remembers doing it, but it was one of the most soul touching moments of my life and it poured out in some writing I did after the show.
So we know you’re based in Los Angeles, but how do you like Berkeley and the Bay Area vibes thus far? Do you have any favorite stops yet in Berkeley, or more generally, the Bay Area?
I love it up north. It holds a special place in my heart. Actually, the song I opened with at the UC Theatre is about an unforgettable drive I took to San Francisco.
Article by Jacob Elsanadi. Interview conducted by Sofia Duarte and Jacob Elsanadi. Inset photos by Autumn Hruby.