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INTERVIEW: DAV!D&CLARA – determination, dreaming, and passion…

Formed back in 2004, the alternative electronic music duo of DAV!D&CLARA, made up of singer, songwriter, producer DAV!D (David Castillo), and his trustworthy computer CLARA, have since released a series of critically acclaimed singles and albums. Their latest album is “CONFESSIONS OF THE MACHINE”.

  1. When did you first meet Clara, and has she changed over time?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA): I first met Clara 13 years ago. She has changed. With upgrades and experimenting with more AI she has advanced. I advanced with her which has been a beautiful thing. Not many people evolve with their work. But it with determination, dreaming, and passion that you can achieve anything.

  1. For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA): My development as an artist was first molded by the musicals I used to watch when I was little. “My fair Lady”, “Grease”, even Disney musicals aimed for children. I really didn’t know that I truly loved music until I saw Gwen Stefani’s music video for her solo single “What you waiting for?”. It sparked the fire. I kept writing, even though I didn’t know how to produce. I actually didn’t produce my first song until I was 19, so that was 6 years where I’m thankful I didn’t give up. The early stuff was rough to say the least. But I learned from it and kept growing.

  1. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA):  That’s tough to say since each with glean their own findings. But this album – Confessions of the machine – I really put work into all elements. So I’d hope that it would not just be the writing, not just the production, but the overall experience that’s delivered with each listen of my performance. The album jumps from 80’s bubble gum sounding pop to classical, then to industrial. I made something that pleased me, and the people I shared it with loved it as well.

  1. Do you ever write a song with listener satisfaction in mind, or do you only compose what comes from your natural instincts?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA): I do write with listeners in mind. But also hold to my standards and likes.

  1. What do you think mainly separates you from the massive crowd of electronic artists emerging right now on platforms all over the web?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA):  I write and release copiously. In a 6 year span I’ve released so many songs it’s ridiculous, but I enjoy it. My style is too unique to be lumped in with others. What I believe stands out most is my determination. I don’t quit, I keep going.

  1. Your songs are intensely intimate and personal. Have you ever had the curiosity of hearing some famous artist singing one of your songs? And if so, who would you personally choose for the task?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA):  Yes. Years ago I made an album called “Adventures in love, lust, and life” and in the album notes in the booklet I said I wanted to have Britney Spears sing the songs. That is still a dream of mine. I’d love to hear what other artists/producers would do with my music. Not saying I want people to steal my work, but would like to see what they’d do. Honestly Britney Spears, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, Christina Aguilera. Really, anyone who can handle delivering a strong vocal performance.

  1. What is currently your favorite song to belt out in the bathroom?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA): “Dreaming of LA”. Conceded? Yes. But all my songs are my favorite for the right situation. Like starting off the day refreshed, and it just pops into my head.

  1. What are the five things you can’t live without?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA):  Music, joy, determination, passion, love.

  1. What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?

When I was 17 and came out of the closet. I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, so that was difficult. Because when I came out – out of fear – they made up whatever story they could about me. Anything that comes to mind : drug user, thief, liar, child abuser etc. Around this time I had also contacted local authorities revolving around child abuse cases with the Jehovah’s witnesses in the state. So I wasn’t liked, and I didn’t care. I still don’t. My only regret is that I hadn’t done it sooner. But their actions spoke louder than words.

Once I came forward, they all tried to damage my reputation to take away from the fact that they did hide evidence, cases, and even helped move people from the state to hide their secrets. There are many pedophiles within the JW religion and they hid them. Before I came forward I was threatened by members who are JW’s, that it would bring shame to my family and to the religion. When they realized that I didn’t care about the religion, they threatened me. The usual, two against one, cornered trying to leave the building. I was told I’d be made sorry. That told me everything. I stopped caring about the religion because they don’t care about the people within their congregations. They do want to convert people so they can control them, via a self-destructive mindset and thought process. I learned that when I came out of the closet as a Jehovah’s Witness. I was told my feelings were disgusting, immoral, of Satan (but remember it’s from the same people hiding child abusers….).

And if I can tell a story here, they once hid a man who abused a dog in Phoenix. Some may remember the story. He brutally attacked an animal – putting it lightly – he was a Jehovah’s Witness. The authorities were closing in on him, he had also been accused of assaulting various children, women, exposing himself in public. Rather than do the right thing, they helped him run. I can’t prove this because they destroyed every bit of evidence linked to it. But the police will remember. They helped him run, and to my knowledge they do know where he is and they have kept him there. All of this effort, to avoid bringing shame to the religion, rather than do the right thing. So, yeah. They to this day keep up their same tired lies about me –which seem convincing until you look at what they’re hiding. Just hoping that it will distract you, from awful things happening they allowed to happen. Things, that could be avoided with the help of local authorities who desperately need to step in on that situation.

  1. If I was to turn on your iPod right now, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA):  My artist name – DAV!D&CLARA, Britney Spears, The Doors, Madonna, and the Gorillaz.

  1. If you could go open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA):  Brooke Candy. I love what she does. She is an amazing visual artist. But honestly would open for anyone who’d have me. Within reason, of course.

  1. How do you handle criticism and/or haters in general? Is it something you pay attention to, or simply ignore?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA): Lately I’ve been trying to be respectful. Such as “I respect your opinion” attitude. If they choose to harass me then it’s block. Mostly it’s online. I’ve yet to encounter anyone with the balls to say it to my face, and if they did I’d respect them more than hiding behind a screen and a fake profile picture.

  1. So what’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing / producing / recording / playing etc.?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA):   To have a comfortable work area, and let my creativity flow freely.

  1. What would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA):  Knowing that my music has brought joy to people, and finding out that I have listeners all around the globe. I had someone message me on Instagram from Brazil, another from Australia, letting me know they were enjoying the music. I had one send me a pic from South Africa, playing my album, MY SONGS, through his SUV speakers while tending to his small farm. That was really cool.

  1. Could you tell us something about the live shows you do on Instagram and Periscope?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA):  Going back to haters – the flock of the pastor I mentioned – recently had one flag one of my live shows. In the background I had erotic art on display via my projector for shows. It fell within Instagram terms of use, but in the meantime I couldn’t post. So when I went back on, I did a strip show. Not nude. Just took of my shirt, my slacks, shoes and socks. So I was only in my underwear. It was really a middle finger to them, but I’ve seen the streaming numbers go up since I’ve been doing this and so I’ve kept up with it. So I applied and did the same thing with my periscope shows.

Ultimately it may put people off, however it is my vindication. A lot of my songs are about my self-image and how I feel about myself. That’s important because growing up I was raised that the body was a dirty shameful thing. It’s not. My body is beautiful, I accept my body, trust it, support it, forgive it, respect it, believe in it, love it, proud of it. With that mentality I realized that my sexuality is my power from which I draw confidence.

  1. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of artistry and entertainment?

David Castillo DAV!D&CLARA):  I have used it as my tool. On my new album “As you made me” was the taunt I made at conservatism, as I’ve grown tired of it. Christian fundamentalism has done nothing to help society, and will be the downfall for all humanity if we allow it to continue to take a strangle hold of society. Look at the wars of the past 500 years, the worst were motivated by so called “Christians”. It’s not about god, it’s not about good or bad, it was about them seeking power. Whoring themselves out for it. Hence the opening line of the song “I don’t see these hoes in gold”. They are whores, they compromise their standards as Christians to fit whatever lines their pocket books. Such as with the worst sitting United States president in history – Donald Trump – his conservative base screams, cries, throws tantrums over equal rights for the LGBT community, women, and people of color. But where in the bible does it say that? It doesn’t. The scriptures regarding “men laying with me” was added by King James. Original scripts for the bible do not mention it at all. In fact the original bible itself was a warning to mankind over greed, violence, hatred. Over time, powers that be changed it to manipulate society to their benefit. Even if we don’t reference that, it still says “vengeance belongs to Yahweh”. When you take that from Yahweh, you then have spit in his face, implying he isn’t strong enough or wise enough to deal with that issue.

“I don’t see these hoes in gold”, a taunt because these conservatives take and take. They give nothing back to society or to those who put them in power. Such as the Koch brother who recently died. Was he able to take one dollar with him? No. It didn’t mean a thing. He lied, cheated, and clawed his way to the top, for something that didn’t mean a thing. We’re killing, making others suffer for something we can’t take with us when we die. That’s my point, and bone of contention with conservatives. They don’t love god, they love power and money. My following line to the opening in the song: “I don’t know these hoes either, god or his son, sweet Jesus”. They are godless, in action and in their hearts. And I’m confident in saying that because their actions show it. I couldn’t imagine having a billion dollars to my name, but continue to take from others who don’t even have enough for food, healthcare, housing, or to care for a child. Conservatism is now going after social security, because they are so greedy, they will stop at nothing. Again, how they will answer to God will be their own cross to bear. For me, I won’t let money taint my heart. That’s my political message. If conservatives want to play victim, let me remind them that children in this country – the United States – woke up in cages this morning. The same pro-life people making bomb threats at Planned Parenthood locations couldn’t care less that children have been separated from their parents, that they aren’t being taken care of, and many have been lost with no accountability by this government. I pray that when Yahweh renders judgment against this country that I’m not lumped in with these satanic like individuals. But that’s an insult to Satan worshippers, as even they have a problem with the mindset that caused conservatism to put kids in cages. Also calling these people whores is an insult to whores. Whores aren’t damaging the economy, nor did they put kids in cages.

  1. Could you tell us something about the making of your latest release “Confessions of the Machine”?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA): It was probably the complex thing I’ve ever recorded. It took time, experimenting with sounds, and pure hard work. I had burned out last summer while trying to promote my previous album “Body Work”, and this album was me stripping myself down to the bones and reworking myself. I had to. I was unhealthy, I had gained 35 pounds, couldn’t sleep, depressed. Then I pulled myself up and just kept going. I usually go through a “transformative” process usually lining up with retrogrades, my body is very sensitive to magnetic flow and I can always feel the change in energy. So I learned not to look at a change as a panic, but as an opportunity in disguise. All I can say is I’m happy with the end result. I’ve always wanted to experiment with classical elements, harps, wood wind, and orchestra sounds. Thankfully I live in a time where that is able to be mimicked on a computer.

  1. Does any song on “Confessions of the Machine” have a specific backstory and/or message and meaning that is very special to you?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA): “The Lucky one” has a special meaning, as it is me respecting how lucky my life has been so far. “The latest bloom” was very hard to record due to the cutting nature of the lyrics. It’s the most honest I’ve been. Painfully honest about how I feel about myself. “As you made me” other than a political message, the personal message and memory is feeling so in line. Not bowing to societal pressure, but being in line with my own and another energy. We’re both on the same wave-link, we are feeling the same emotions, fears, thoughts, desires, loves, et cetera. Other than that, the back story is that a lot of amazing things happened during the recording process. I kept having these dreams of meeting musical legends from the past. Jim Morrison, Prince, David Bowie, and I believe in a way that I did meet them. Or a version of them. Energy doesn’t actually leave, it just transfers from one location to another. With that premise, I believe that the energy – the souls of people- are still around us constantly. It sounds confusion, but makes sense to me, and I have to go with it.

19.What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA):   My specific mindset and goal is to be a working musician. That’s it. It’s what I love, and the work doesn’t feel like work.

  1. Ten years from now you and CLARA will be….?

David Castillo (DAV!D&CLARA): Continuing to grow with our sound. I hope to be still going in 10 years.

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