Daisy Castro: A Mystic Musician
It takes a natural musician to create sound that reflects the originality of their character. Violinist Daisy Castro uses music as a channel to transmit her individuality. Her journey began early, at age six, and she was quickly recognized as a musical prodigy. Daisy’s introduction to violin was via the Suzuki method, a classical approach that puts an emphasis on ear learning. She frequently played in classical orchestras through the earliest stages of her career. And that was only the beginning.
At age 12, Daisy’s playing was impactfully shifted when she discovered Django Reinhardt, a significant figure in the history of manouche jazz music, also regarded as “Gypsy jazz.” She instantly connected to this style of music, saying that “it came intuitively.” The natural confidence Daisy felt playing in this space compelled her to explore improvisation. At this point she took control of her sound and musical direction.
Veering from only playing classical composition around this time, Daisy also played in a family band with both her parents, Ann and Joe Castro, two exceptional musicians who instilled a love for folk and blues in Daisy from an early age. Under the stage name The Infidel Castros, they have played DjangoFest Northwest, a celebration of Gypsy jazz and the musical influences of Django Reinhardt, and various venues near where Daisy grew up in the Baltimore, Maryland area. With mom on vocals, dad on guitar, and daughter on violin, playing in this familial trio allowed for Daisy to further explore her musical potential.
Daisy played her first Exit Zero Jazz Festival in 2014 with The Daisy Castro Quartet and says she fell in love with Cape May. Her talent and charisma lead her to easily make many connections. She slowly continued to gravitate towards Cape May until she eventually moved to town full time around age 19. She continued to play with her quartet at more Jazz Festivals and began experimenting with other sounds alongside local Cape May musicians. She often performed with Brian Lee in a project called Clavicles, where she both played violin and sang. They recorded an alternative album with a nautical theme at The Chalfonte Hotel in 2018 titled See You on the Other Side.
Eventually branching out into playing the electric bass, she is involved in another project with local musicians called Empress Ephemeral. Their sound could be described as “doomy post-rock/ post-metal.” They recorded a self-titled EP in 2022, but their dark and atmospheric sound has yet to find a place to be played live in Cape May. Hopefully a prospective expansion of music experimentation in Cape May will unfold in the future, as we have seen it go in waves in the past.
While Daisy certainly created a buzz in Cape May and exposed our town to a different breed of sound, opportunity has led her to New York City in recent years. She is currently pursuing multiple culturally diverse projects there. Daisy often will stand in for acts, as a sort of freelance violinist, but also has regular gigs. Baklava Express is an Arabic fusion band that she regularly plays in. Sharing some of the same musicians as her quartet, they blend modern sounds with traditional Arabic instruments, like the oud (a middle eastern pear-shaped fretless instrument that resembles a guitar). The creativity that the culture inspires translates into their original pieces.
Hazmat Modine is another project. This eight-piece experimental rock band has been together for over 20 years and has garnered a following with millions of streams on Spotify. Daisy joined them about two years ago. From folk to blues to ethnic influences, this band draws from styles spanning across time periods and genres.
Back in February, Daisy toured the West Coast with a Latin jazz rock band called The Gonzalo Bergara Quartet. “I joined the band in 2015 and we play together sporadically. It’s a very influential band for me even though we don’t play together super often,” says Daisy. Her adaptable musical abilities make her a multidimensional artist with seemingly unlimited potential. As her sphere of influence expands, she welcomes and embraces each new venture. This attitude is bound to perpetuate Daisy’s growth as an artist, because—as she put it—her musical journey is always evolving.
Projects like The Daisy Castro Quartet, Clavicles, Empress Ephemeral, Baklava Express, Hazmat Modine, and The Gonzalo Bergara Quartet are available for streaming on platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp. Each project is astoundingly unique from the next, sure to leave listeners in awe of sounds they may never have experienced before. Daisy’s stylistic range of jazz, folk, classical composition, Arabic fusion, metal, and more earns her the title of a genre jumper who applies her melodic intensity to all music she explores.
Even though she currently calls New York City home, a chance to catch Daisy perform locally is not off the table. She plans to return to Exit Zero Jazz Festival in the future, and her Cape May connections are still strong. However, a trip to New York is well worth the opportunity to witness her magic live. I had the pleasure of seeing her perform at Barbès in Brooklyn, a venue she frequently plays. Her energetic violin finesse grips you and conjures feelings of bewilderment and pure enjoyment, keeping you fully tuned in. Daisy’s music reawakens sounds of the past without sounding dated, her creative prowess a balance of clean technique and masterful unconventionality.