We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather Castillo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heather, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Heather: I grew up outside of the musically infused city, Austin, Texas. From a young age, I was the one in my friend group ushering us to concerts in the city and encouraging road trips to attend the nearest warped tour or SXSW. Obviously, we never missed a Taking Back Sunday or The Starting Line show. Music was something I’ve always gravitated to. I enjoy everything about it from the ability to heighten emotion – whatever emotion you might be feeling – to the way a concert unifies and brings together a mass group of people for the collective purpose of having fun. I decided very early on that I wanted to help support artists’ visions. I never had a desire to be on a stage but quickly discovered the joy I found in helping artists reach their goals and audience.
Livia: My musical journey started at the early age of four when my parents signed me up for piano lessons. I realized that singing helped me absorb my lessons better and through that integration my family discovered my ability to sing. My focus quickly transitioned to vocal lessons and I started to participate in local singing competitions which I often won. I was accepted into Berklee College of Music and entered with the intention of studying songwriting and exploring a possible future career as a singer. I quickly discovered that the songwriting curriculum wasn’t for me and transitioned to a music business focus. Inspired by the talented musicians around me and by my love for connecting with people, I began to organically A&R and set up introductions for friends whom I thought would enjoy creating together. I was very lucky to land my first internship with Kara DioGuardi which then evolved into my first full-time A&R gig.
– Kara DioGuardi – Kara is the first music industry professional who believed in my work ethic & determination to make it in the music industry. She gave me my first internship, which led to my first job working with her and Stephen Finfer, her business partner. Without them and their initial support & guidance, I would not be where I am today.
– Rhea Pasricha – Rhea is an incredible business woman and role model for me. I am in constant awe of how she continues to grow Prescription Songs. While I was managing a songwriter, she gave my client her first publishing deal. Despite my young age & little experience, she believed in me and my ability to develop talent. Her support gave me the confidence I needed to continue to cultivate talent which has led me to my role at Big Noise today.
– Jess Furman – Jess is the first co-worker and work wife I have ever had in the industry (previously I was the only employee underneath the founders or self-employed as a manager) and I’m so grateful to have experienced this with her. Jess is a true leader. Not only is she an inspiring executive, she is an incredible award-winning composer and songwriter. She showed me that you can truly live your most authentic self no matter what boundaries or limitations society tries to set on you. She is able to effectively toggle both roles as a VP of Sync Strategy and a successful composer/songwriter.
– Shawn Barron – Shawn is one of the first high level executives to ever respond to my cold email outreach. His kindness and generosity at the time showed me that I was on the right path as long as I kept going. We met while I was an intern and he was the VP of A&R at Atlantic Records. I showed him the roster, introduced myself & he was nothing but encouraging and kind. He introduced me to his colleagues and we set up several sessions which fueled me to always reach out no matter how big or small someone’s title might be.
– Amanda Samii – Amanda Samii is another incredible executive and role model. Her work ethic, ability to find talent & develop it, kindness and generosity are just a few of the qualities she has that continue to inspire me on a daily basis.
– Vanessa Anguili – Vanessa is an incredible force, A&R and role model. She was one of my first supporters in the music industry who showed me what it meant to build community and support women in music. She inspires me daily with her philanthropic initiatives, her hard work A&Ring A-List artist projects, and her genuine kindness.
– Heather Castillo – Heather is an amazing team member that I’m lucky to call a friend. She’s always supportive of my initiatives at the company & without her constant help none of them would see the light of day! Her project management, organization, and execution of projects has been such an inspiration to me. She has taught me so much about marketing and organization, and her energy is always encouraging and warm.
What else should we know about your career?
Heather: Over the last thirteen years I’ve had the opportunity to gain experience and explore a variety of areas within the music industry. I’ve worked in production (photoshoots & music videos), digital management, artist management, label project management, marketing management, and as the head of talent. This variety of roles has given me a unique perspective on marketing, which I apply daily to my current position as Marketing Director at Big Noise. An in-depth understanding of these different components gives me a 360 view of projects, which I take into consideration when planning marketing strategies. My background has also given me the tools to successfully wear a variety of hats at one time, which is essential to my role at Big Noise – managing marketing campaigns & opportunities, Big Noise social media, digital ads, and all marketing assets.
Through my journey, I have learned a variety of lessons. First, I hope to always feel like a “work-in-progress.” Constantly challenging myself and growing both personally and professionally is something I always hope to do. Second, the importance of speaking up, you can’t always expect others to do what is right by you and sometimes you have to express what you want and pave your own path. Third, I love creative collaboration! There are few things more enjoyable than bouncing off ideas with people who have different perspectives, backgrounds, and skills. When things have been tough, I’ve leaned on two concepts: 1) Don’t fight change, change leads to growth 2) Things happen for a reason and there is usually a silver lining to most difficult situations, even if it takes years to realize what it was – so keep moving forward.
We are very excited about the INTERNET KILLED THE ROCKSTAR tour which includes all artists from our label: Mod Sun, Tyler Posey, and girlfriends. I feel very fortunate to have found such a passionate and forward-thinking team and I am extremely grateful to be working in a genre that I love. As someone who started off pushing her way through a sweaty crowd to find a decent viewing spot at warped tour (as many of us did!), this is the best place I could have imagined my journey leading to. It’s been an amazing experience working for the legends John Feldmann, Nick Gross, and Jon Cohen.
Livia: I think of myself as a creator with a speciality in creating and cultivating relationships. This has fueled the development of my non-profit MOTION CREATIVE and my work in international A&R. I also have a large passion for finding talent early in their career and working alongside them to develop it. I am proud of my work at Big Noise. The opportunity has given me a chance to develop a roster for the first time, which has now grown to include twelve artists! It’s been a great journey and I’ve loved building the team to help support my department. Being able to consistently grow in my current position has been very rewarding and there is always a new challenge for me to tackle professionally. My current role is definitely not easy but it is always fun and exciting. Our leaders have entrusted me to build out my department as I feel best and having that freedom can be both a challenge and a blessing. Through it all I have learned how to be a strong leader, make important decisions for the good of my department, and plan strategically for both immediate and long-term goals.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Heather: Here are my must-visits in LA: – Brunch: Aeirloom Bakery (http://aeirloombakery.com/) – I just discovered this place, tucked away on a cozy corner in Toluca Lake. They believe in non-genetically modified ingredients, organic farming practices, and the conscious and humane treatment of animals. The food reflects these values and everything I’ve tried has been delicious. On top of that, they have friendly service and not mention AMAZING coffee.
– Coffee: Nesmon Cafe (http://www.nesmoncafe.com/) – If you ever need an escape from LA, this quaint place will transport you to a cafe in Paris. While working from home due to COVID, this is my choice location to work from. Sitting in their outdoor seating space, with French songs playing while enjoying a strong coffee and delicious crepe is ALWAYS a good vibe.
– Lunch: EscuelaTaqueria (https://www.escuelataqueria.com) – A delicious pit-stop if you happen to be running around Beverly Blvd. High-quality ingredients, warm welcoming service, and tasty salsa!
– Dinner: Gucci Osteria (https://www.gucci.com/us/en/st/capsule/gucci-osteria-beverly-hills) – This place is an intimate and sexy spot located on the roof of the Gucci Rodeo Drive flagship store in Beverly Hills. The restaurant is the brainchild of chef Massimo Bottura and his childhood friend Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri. The kitchen is lead by chef Mattia Agazzi who reinvents Italian cuisine for their LA guests with a refined and creative eye. The dishes are as beautiful as they are delicious.
– Drinks: Bodega (https://bodegawinebar.com/): If you are looking for a casual and laid-back wine and beer bar, Bodega has all the feels of a friendly neighborhood bar. The staff is fun, attentive, and will remember your last order. Also, Laurel Tavern (https://www.laureltavern.com/) – Delicious food and an excellent selection of beer, Laurel Tavern is the ultimate chill spot in Studio City. Wooden picnic-style tables provide a comfortable place for friends to get together and enjoy a nice cold beverage. I highly recommend their burgers.
– Breakfast: Huge fan of Cafe Stella, Bowery Bungalow & Tartine Silverlake
– Lunch: Zinc Cafe & Market in the Arts District, so you can walk over to Hauser & Wirth to check out some art afterwards.
– Dinner: For a cute Italian dinner date, go to L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele & for a great sushi spot, Sushi Enya.
– Coffee: LOVE La Colombe in Silverlake, head over to Tartine across the street for a delicious pastry.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Heather: I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to all the women in the industry who have helped, inspired, and encouraged me throughout my journey. Specific shout outs to: – Timoney Korbar (Sr. Creative Exec Int’l, Amazon Prime Video), who answered a random cold email from a new college student and gave me my first internship at Epic Records – which led to numerous internships at the label. She taught me the ins and outs of working at a label and has always been a massive supporter.
– Gina Reyes (Verve Literary Agency), my boss during my time at Fox Network. She has been both a supportive friend in my career and an inspiration with her boss lady Latina vibes. She always stressed the importance of speaking my mind and trusting my intuition.
– Cathleen Cher (gyfting.co), entrepreneur powerhouse. This woman is a beast and has started numerous businesses in fashion and entertainment. She has entrusted me with a variety of production projects and included me in her teams for a number of photoshoots, music videos, and tour production projects for her top clients. I also owe my few contracted artist interview pieces for MilkMade.com to her as well. These pieces all started with a frantic call, “Heather I need an artist interviewer, can you be one this week!” The experience I gained from her opportunities has been invaluable and I am forever grateful for her trust and confidence in my abilities.
– Brenda Reynoso brought me on as the first employee to join the new tech/music distribution platform Amuse. She gave me the opportunity to sign my first artists and I’m immensely grateful for my time there.
– Aimee Merrell (Hard 8 Working Group), my counterpart while working at Amuse. She spent countless hours by my side vetting artists, bouncing creative ideas, and being that additional perspective I needed in both business and in my personal life. Always an inspiration, she has been my career partner in crime.
– Jess Furman (SVP of Sync at Big Noise), her work ethic and talent inspire me every day. She is a dedicated and supportive teammate, a sync master, and one of the backbones of our company.
– Livia Piomelli (Director of A&R, Publishing at Big Noise), Her hustle and drive inspire me every day! She is an amazing teammate and I’m very excited about the upcoming projects we are working on together for Big Noise.
Also, a big shout out to the rest of my Big Noise family and the kings Nick Gross, John Feldmann, Jon Cohen, and Adam Muhlbaum for giving me the opportunity to do what I love. It’s an honor to work with you and you inspire me every day.
Livia Piomelli and Heather Castillo