Singer-songwriter Janalynn Castelino. Photo courtesy of Janalynn Castelino.
With over millions of authentic music listeners — many coming from Italy — and being gifted with a unmatchable voice, Janalynn Castelino emerges to be more than a singer in the music industry. In a time where female empowerment is at the helm of society, there are many talented, powerful and creative female voices that are inspiring masses across the globe, one of which is the young multilingual singer and doctor Janalynn. She was born to be a sports person, lived an academically oriented student life, and all of a sudden took up singing owing to the immense support and popularity that her voice embraced.
Janalynn rose to fame in a short span with her unique and sensational voice. Though her official upload to YouTube took place in 2018, Janalynn first explored her love for music, especially singing, at the age of 5. In our interview, she explains how religious music crafted her interest into Latin music genres and other sub-genres including contemporary, pop and R&B.
Since her music video that released on YouTube back in 2018, gaining over 22 million views, it’s been an uphill climb for the singer with Latin roots, further having featured on YouTube’s Trending Music Charts across several countries. Her resonating vocals blended with emotional depth have gained her an overgrowing fan base from around the world.
Janalynn explains the impact of her academics, moving ahead with pursuing her dream to become a doctor and the toll that the two vivid professions of music and medicine had on her career as an artist. In our conversation today with Janalynn, she talks about the pandemic while being all excited to resume working on the production of her first ever EP that’s scheduled to release later this year. You’ll love to take a read as she shares a special message with all her Italian fans: she plans to visit Rome soon after the lockdown ceases in order to shoot for her upcoming music video.
2020 has been hard, especially for artists. How has the pandemic year been like for you?
All of us around the globe have gone through the same terrifying phase irrespective of boundaries and creed. The situation got worse for artists and 2020 was a complete mess for many, especially for the ones touring internationally.
My team and I were hassle-struck while on our music venture that had its production scheduled across international territories. The overall situation was tense with not just one but multiple elements — including health as the most important one — followed by challenges faced in fulfilling professional commitments. Everything from the production and post production aspect was at a standstill for me. Similarly, the overall conditions were gloomy for several other artists.
Did you manage to take significant strides in pushing your music plans forward during lockdown?
Quarantine gave me the opportunity to backscatter on all those little significant incidents from the past that laid masked and buried somehow. There was so much to reflect upon, all of which I never considered during my routine hectic schedule. More time with yourself accounted for more creativity resulting in more writing and composing. The vibes that went into every creation during lockdown were distinctive to it. During the lockdown and even before it, there was so much that I had on blue print. I’ve gratefully been able to improvise and develop a better version of that. However, execution is where I and my team faced a glitch. Simply because my music venture included a lot of territorial crossovers with regards to the shoot, production and so on, all of which were limited owing to the pandemic imposed restrictions.
But, besides this as the gross disadvantage, there have been so many advantages to it. Apart from the whole music thing, I could focus and complete my academic studies — that has given me an edge to deviate more time into music. I don’t bear the student burden any longer. Once the restrictions are lifted, I’ll be able to give priority to my fans and listeners.
Your music videos on YouTube have been viewed millions of times gaining massive recognition from various countries across the globe, including Italy. What’s the key to get that far?
The key is my voice as an instrument along with authentic engagement and God’s grace above all. Music has no barriers, neither territorial nor cultural, and that’s why artists are fortunate.
Honestly, none of this was planned. Music, especially singing, has been a part of me since childhood. Formal singing started at the age of 3 and later gained impetus with singing competitions and participation in musicals during school. The first time I performed on stage in front of a large enough audience was at the age of 5 at a school event. At that time, practising for the church choir played an eminent role in carving this, then it became a little hobby. I’d get back home from school at noon (school began at 8 am), have lunch, get ready for swimming classes and accompany my grandfather to church later in the evening. He led the church choir and I thereby got the opportunity to closely observe at first and participate in their sessions later on.
Music as a hobby grew with me over the years, but my life in school was more academically oriented. Academics were my priority and cultural activities were pursued as a hobby lying in the background. I constantly participated in inter-school and regional singing competitions, most of which I won. I was the Board Exam zonal topper securing a 96.36% in the 10th Grade which gained more spotlight, after which getting into a medical college and pursuing a career as a doctor was my primary focus. At this time, even the ‘singing as a hobby’ thing faded away.
Now, coming to how the YouTube journey started, it was in my second year in college that I got the instinct of uploading a song to YouTube. The people around me who had witnessed my talent wanted to hear more of it. So there was this random cover that I recorded live on mobile and uploaded to YouTube overnight. I was overwhelmed with the response, and this inspired me to upload some more covers, until a particular music video that garnered over 10 million views (currently 22 million as of now) made me realize that I should be doing more of this. That music video featured on YouTube’s Trending Music Charts in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries, including UAE and India, of course.
Tell us a bit more about your unique journey as both a singer and a doctor. And how do you reconcile your two careers?
As a medical student, my journey as a singer posed to be a stress-buster amidst the hectic routine life. But when the singing career started growing and the earlier simple things started getting bigger, many challenges came into play. Some of these were consistency, time deviation and negative vibes from associates belonging to either professions that were constantly targeted to break me down. In spite of everything, I can conclude that none of it was challenging enough to obstruct me from achieving my goals. All credits go to my enthusiastic fans and followers, the blessings of my near and dear ones, and my most supportive parents.
You believe that Latin-Mediterranean music is at the peak of western music’s hierarchy. Why is it so?
Latin music is the epitome of western music’s foundation. It served as the core root. There have been many tributaries to it in the form of derivatives and modifications, whether everybody accepts this or not. In recent times, it’s been glistening even more.
More specifically, what do you think about Italian music? Who is the singer you admire the most?
Italian music is the heart of European classical music. Italian musicians performing in the classical genre — both vocalists as well as instrumentalists — have displayed immense supremacy and command in the field of art. They’ve set the standards to such heights in the past that it’s getting challenging for the newer generations to keep up to it. Operatic music is a dominant component, but there’s a broader musical spectrum in Italy. There’s so much you can learn from everybody (it shouldn’t necessarily be a celebrity musician), that I find it really difficult to name someone in particular and overshadow the rest. But, I’d say that I admire Gigliola Cinquetti a lot.
How have Latin roots influenced your style? And did they pose an advantage to your career as a singer?
Being born in a Roman Catholic family, I am a follower of the Latin Liturgical Rites. That’s exactly why Latin as a language is so familiar to me. We trace this cultural and religious treasure to our ancestors, and my family has kept it alive over the generations irrespective of geographical diversities. We cannot dissociate ourselves from the Latin culture as it is a part of worship, prayers, hymns, festivals and traditions of our religion. I’m fortunate enough to have experienced the musical side of it through church hymns. Speaking in general about Roman Catholics across the world, a few decades earlier the Church liturgy was conducted in Latin. My parents and grandparents have witnessed all of this. However, in more recent decades mass ceremonies are being conducted in their respective local languages for communication convenience.
Italian being the closest language to Latin, has profoundly influenced my sense and style of pursuing music since childhood. It was religious music at first, which later inculcated a drive to listen to opera, folk music, and latin pop sub genres. There’s one track that I’m still working on, and I hope to deliver this expression through it.
What’s your view about the dynamic trend seen in Italian music over the years?
The European music world first witnessed its very own cultural marker in the form of Italian music. Italian music has an ancient heritage which has evolved over the years. Probably due to lesser coverage from around the world, it didn’t conquer the modern music era the way it should have. I believe future trends will show rampant changes if more artists from around the world work in unison towards preserving and promoting this jewel to the masses. Once that happens, it’ll be displayed at another level altogether.
How important are collaborations in the music industry?
Not just important, at some time in your career as an artist you’ll find collaborations to be essential. They offer a golden opportunity for the hybridization of various cultures, languages and traditions, at times evolving into a masterpiece that you would take pride in sharing with the world.
Tell us about your upcoming EP. We are eager to know the story behind it and the release date.
Every song on the EP has a different story associated with it. A few songs throw light upon instances from the past. I am waiting for the COVID traveling restrictions to be lifted in order to proceed with completion of the video associated with the tracks. It’s going to be my first ever EP and I cannot afford to compromise on the quality of both the audio and video. That’s exactly the reason why we decided to push the release to October this year. My team and I had come up with alternatives to release it somehow during the lockdown. However, it doesn’t work for me, and I’m in no haste to wrap up with things. At the same time, I can’t tell you how excited I am to share my work with my listeners.
Finally, what would you like to say to your Italian fans? Are you planning to perform there as soon as the pandemic ends?
You’ve stood rock-solid, inspiring the world at large in battling the most terrifying strike by the COVID-19 virus.
I’m desperately waiting for the pandemic to end to travel to Rome and start shooting for one of the tracks on my EP. I’d love to perform for my Italian fans, and I’m eager to share the Italian culture with the rest of the world through my music.
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