Pop singer-songwriter Cailin Russo on seeking the transformational and the earthly in her music

Cailin Russo, BACCARAT

Cailin Russo holding her cherished Baccarat butterfly.

Editor’s note: The Drama is Cailin Russo’s second EP, which she describes as a blow-by-blow recounting of a crumbling relationship at which she hit rock bottom. The record follows a full-band effort, House With A Pool, in 2018. Russo, the daughter of Unwritten Law’s Scott Russo, has toured with the likes of Gomez and Dream Wife, played the Reading and Leeds Festivals, and made her U.S. festival debut last summer at Lollapalooza.

Hello. My name is Cailin Russo. I’m a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, California. I’ve never written a column before, but I do document almost every moment in my life in writing, so this feels comfortable. Writing columns is something I’ve always romanticized about but never had a platform to do, so thank you to RIFF for allowing me this time. I’m truly so excited to talk about something inspiring to me.

Anyway, as I have the floor to discuss anything I want to with you, I want to talk about my Baccarat butterfly. It’s a small glass butterfly that I am completely obsessed with. This sounds random, but it does tie into music—please don’t be disheartened.

I am completely besotted with this glass butterfly. This butterfly literally sits in the palm of my hand. It is my muse. It’s about 2 inches tall and 3 inches wide; colorful, iridescent and made out of smooth glass. You are probably thinking, “Why is she writing about a butterfly?!” Well, let me tell you. I had an iPhone 7 for about five years, stocked up with 50,000 images and videos, thousands of text messages: exes, grandparents, bla bla, etc. We were backed up. I got a new phone, and I wanted to start afresh for 2020—”no hangover” fresh. Baby’s breath fresh. Mountain spring water fresh.

So, I got this new phone, and didn’t transfer anything over. I left it all in the cloud. Having this new blank slate, I decided to download some of my favorite apps: Spotify, Instagram, Pornhub. And of course, Pinterest. I find myself in the black hole which is Pinterest and I stumbled onto these butterflies. I was weirdly attracted to them. I think I’m so enamored with them because they have so many qualities that I want my next wave of music and chapter of my life to have.

Firstly, the word butterfly is the face of transformation; the pinnacle of true evolution. It’s a force of nature that is so crazy to think about. I’m sure we’ve all gotten stoned and laughed at the actual absurdity of that whole worm to cocoon to butterfly thing, right?

The butterfly is so effortless and from the earth. It’s grounded and natural. These are qualities I will always want in my music and my life. We’re talking live drums and live strings—you know, things that have soul and fill the soul.

Real life things. Things from the earth that have a pulse.

This butterfly caught me with its amazing iridescent glass, which makes it look futuristic and contemporary. There is every color in it, but it is also transparent. It is boundless, feminine and unorthodox. It is something familiar but in a new space. This is how I want my music to feel to the listener and also how I see my “Cailin Russo world” becoming. Hopefully, in the next few months, you will listen to my new material, and see the butterfly come to fruition.

I feel so lucky to be so inspired by this tiny glass butterfly, so I felt like I should talk about it. I encourage you as a reader or listener to also take inspiration in physical objects, as visuals are so important and bleed into self expression. I think with this visual, you can kind of understand where I want to go with my sound. Effortless. Contemporary. Multidimensional.

Also: Baccarat, please sponsor me.

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