Having started out her career as a model and actress, Cailin quickly made the transition to music with sultry pop and R&B. Early on, the singer realized she preferred a group dynamic, forming RUSSO with drummer Hayley Brownell, bassist Sean Ritchie and Tyler McCarthy on guitar. The pop punk quartet dropped their first EP, House With A Pool, last summer, followed by videos for tracks like “Lonely,” “Loudmouth” and “Joyride,” released just last month.
As the band continues working on their new record, Cailin took a break from the studio to call office and tell us about her life.
Your dad is a punk rock musician—has it always been your plan to become a part of that world?
No, not at all. When I first started doing music, I wanted to do hip hop, R&B and soul. I never wanted to do rock music, but life always has a way of taking you back to your roots, I guess.
Was he happy when you wanted to pursue being an artist? Or was he pissed?
He was really supportive. I was always really paranoid that he wasn't going to be excited for me because we have a bunch of musicians in the family, and we are very aware of the lifestyle, but he has always been one of my biggest fans. It started in high school when he recorded me in a studio that we have in the house—that was my first ever experience doing something like that.
You formed your band RUSSO this year. What was it like going from being a solo artist to being part of a band?
I think it was quite interesting in the sense that I didn't really know how to prepare for having other people involved so intensely, because before that, it was just me. But the band just worked out so nicely that it wasn't difficult to get my head around working together.
What is the best thing about being in a band?
It’s the responsibility and the experiences you share—it’s a journey.
How would you describe the band’s sound?
I guess it’s more punk rock, but I the undertone is still very pop. It’s a punk-pop situation—like No Doubt and Pop Girls, but without being Carly Rae Jepsen.
Who are your influences?
I like to think of myself as eclectic, but my biggest inspirations are Gwen Stefani, Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill—really just women artists who do their own thing.
You have almost half a million followers on Instagram. How has that influenced your lifestyle and career? Do you ever feel pressured to satisfy your followers?
Absolutely—there's pressure whether you’re on Instagram or not. Some days it’s chill, and some days it’s just really intense. But it’s a big part of my life—it’s a big part of all of our lives. I try to see it as an advantage, but also sometimes, I’m really unsatisfied with what I’m doing and what I am working with, because I see these other people who also have hundreds of thousands of followers are posting more. It’s so easy to compare because it’s always in your face. So, I try to take it as comfortably as I can without getting too sucked in. But it’s hard with this millennial generation—the internet can be your best friend, especially as an artist. So, it’s about taking advantage of the situation and trying to navigate it as well as you can. But it’s hard work.
As an artist, you work across three huge industries. How do you think your different talents inform one another?
It all kind of helps each other, depending on what kind of artist you are. If you’re an artist who’s introvert and just want to be an amazing songwriter and play the piano, I don’t think acting or modeling are going to fit that lifestyle. But for someone like me, who is quite outspoken—I want to be talked about and I want to be in your face—it’s nice to have outlets and whatever to be happy and be able to respect your self in more than one form.
Do you think the things that you’ve learned from being in the modeling world have made you stronger when navigating the music industry?
Yes, but in a way that I didn’t expect. You think because you’re good in front of a ton of crew and cameras that being on stage would be totally okay. But it’s not. It’s different—it’s not like you are picturing it printed and that’s it. No one has to see your actual face. But this is you and it’s you for 30 minutes, completely vulnerable and unable to hide. So, yes, they do compliment each other in a lot of ways, especially when it comes to confidence; but when it comes to the reality of playing shows, it’s a completely different ball game.
Looking back, do you think your career would have taken a different turn if you hadn't been in Justin Bieber's music videos?
I was modelling before that but it was definitely the biggest turn in my life, which really put me in another category, especially with social media just then booming. Also, for Justin Bieber, it was right before he really took over the dance scene, so it definitely impacted my career and people began to give a fuck about my name. I’m just blessed and so happy that I was able to take advantage of it.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you are alone?
Masturbate—just kidding! I don’t know, I’m quite an antsy person, so I really like to run and walk, and I try to write a lot, just stream of consciousness, so I’d probably say that. But really, I just like to stay busy—cleaning, doing whatever. And I like to exercise when I’m alone.
What’s the weirdest thing someone has DMed you?
I have gotten a lot of weird shit. The weirdest thing someone has asked me or sent me? Fuck, I don’t know—I’ve gotten a lot of weird shit recently. But off the top of my head, a dude wrote: ‘I would walk 10 miles on broken glass to lick your foot.’
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Do you want the honest answer or the modest answer? Honestly, in my dreams I hope to be at the Grammys and the Oscars. I’m trying to really do everything I can so that in 20 years I’ll have a nice house and will have hopefully have started some kind of foundation that’s helping people. Or, I’ll be an eccentric lady with crazy glasses that does a lot of pottery.
If you weren’t a singer, actress or model, what would you be doing?
I really want to be an illustrator for Pixar or DreamWorks.
If you could choose a Disney character that characterizes you the best, who would you be?
Do I go classic me or do I go modern me? What story would I fit into? Maybe someone from The Jungle Book, but I also want to be cute. I want to be Baloo, but I want to be cuter than a thick bear. No, wait—I would be Nemo, or maybe Dory because Dory has the comedic relief and I could talk to wales. Yeah. I would definitely pick Dory or Anastasia, because Anastasia lives on the road but she’s really a princess.
What’s your advice to young girls who want to get into music?
From what I’ve learned the past couple of years in the music industry, it’s that it depends a lot on resistance and balance—to stay in a flow, and having that little bit of confidence. You don’t have to go to the moon, but having that little bit of knowledge that you can do it, that you can go the long way and persistently work to push—that’s the key. And that’s something you have to do from the beginning. A lot of people say that they want it so badly, but you really don’t want it enough, unless you fucking do it.
'House With A Pool' is out now.