Unlabeled and Unapologetic, Cailin Russo is Leading Her Own Influx

Cailin Russo wears a variety of different hats. And she wears them all well.

Some of us struggle to manage one job, teetering on the edge of our respective fields, gripping firmly for dear life. Others prance breezily from description to description, somehow succeeding as adaptable multi-hyphenates. Singer-model-multimedia experimentalist Cailin Russo is the latter. 

Existing at the intersection of music, fashion and digital art, Russo is no stranger to the joys of versatility, a fact made evident on her new album INFLUX

Released on March 3, the project fuses together Russo’s signature chic-yet-grunge aesthetic with her mirrorball of character roles – each song pulses with unique energy. With tracks as contrasting as “BOYS TASTE LIKE DRUGS” – a restless nightlife-coded anthem – and the poignant vocal-heavy ballad “LEMONADE,” INFLUX is a tribute to each and every side of the 29-year-old. 

“The album being titled INFLUX was really literal,” Russo told V. “Influx meaning an overwhelming amount was perfect…because I refused to label myself or feel small for not being able to box my style or style of music. Instead, it was about embracing and heightening the fact that I was un-labelable.”

Daughter of California punk vocalist Scott Russo, she dipped her toe into the music scene in 2018, founding the punk band RUSSO and releasing the EP House with a Pool. Since turning to her solo career, Russo has etched her own place in the industry, nabbing a collaboration for the video game League of Legendswith 151 million streams and counting – and earning a Grammy nomination for her writing work on the album Donda

Now, Russo is primed for more personal success as she continues her endeavors into multi-hyphen-dom. Along with perfecting INFLUX, Russo is active in Web3, launching an NFT to accompany her single “DIE DOWN”, as well as walking (virtually) in the first ever fashion show to take place in the metaverse. Talk about versatility. 

V sat down with Cailin Russo to chat about INFLUX, her creative process, and even, the future of fashion. 

V: Congrats on your latest album, INFLUX! Where did you begin for this project? And how long has it been in the making?

CR: Thank you so much! This album has been percolating in my head since 2019, started amidst the lockdown… The album took around 3 years to come to fruition.  

V: What was your songwriting process for the album? 

CR: I write songs based off experience 97% of the time, the process either starts with a line or a concept as the seed then once I’m in the studio (usually with collaborators) we elaborate on the concept and write the song.

V: What themes did you want to talk about with this project?

CR: The themes I wanted to express through this album were independence, sexuality and release. A lot of my music is about letting go of people and phases. But more individually, the song themes are usually romantic. 

V: What’s the significance behind the title?

CR: The significance behind the album being titled INFLUX was really literal. Influx meaning an overwhelming amount was perfect at the time because I refused to label myself or feel small for not being able to box my style or style of music. Instead, it was about embracing and heightening the fact that I was un-labelable.

V: Outside of music, you’re also very involved in the digital arts. Can you talk about your recent collaboration with AVAVAV and BNV?

CR: I am super involved in digital arts, I used to love video games purely to pick outfits and characters. I love the future and naturally we’re flowing together in terms of collaboration. I also have a couple of close friends that work in the fashion metaverse + fashion space. Shout out @R3N3GADES

V: In your opinion, is this the future of fashion? If so, why?

CR: I think it is one part of the future of fashion for sure. Do I love it? Not really. Fashion is about wearing clothes and how you feel wearing clothes and seeing other humans wearing clothes. And I think the human experience is the most delicate way to present fashion. But yes I do think there’s a whole subculture + soon to be a mainstream part of fashion in the metaverse and Web3. 

V: What do you hope your music does for people?

CR: I hope my music speaks for people when they don’t know how to express something or need to express something, I hope I can make them feel seen with my words and experiences. 

V: What do you love most about what you do? 

CR: I love all of songwriting and creating, my two favorite parts about making music are 1)  when you find a way to cleverly tie lyrics together (bars) it’s like striking gold and 2) I love bumping whatever we made on a good day right after.

V: What’s next for you? What else are you working on this year?

CR: This year is all about letting this album permeate through the world and going on tour. I hope this album takes me around the world with it. 

V: That’s all our questions! Is there anything else you would like to add? Some endeavor we didn’t cover and you want to share with fans?

CR: I want to say thank you to everyone that’s been on this journey with me so far. Thank you to my friends and collaborators that helped me see this album through. Free Palestine.

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