(Nov. 29, 2017) -- Meet AJ Castillo ’08. He’s a Latin musician who’s applying what he learned about business at UTSA to his creative pursuits.
Born in Austin, Castillo grew up in music venues. His father and uncle were part of a Tejano band, and Castillo started attending their shows when he was five years old.
“I fell in love with the music and the culture, and the way people experienced music,” he said. “I knew even then I wanted to be on stage and make people dance to my music.”
Castillo began playing the accordion when he was nine years old and continued developing his skill into high school. As a high school student, he became serious about pursuing a professional music career and played in several different bands. He wasn’t certain about attending college but was persuaded by his teachers that it could benefit his music career.
“I heard a lot of great things about UTSA from my teachers,” Castillo said. “I was excited to come to a diverse campus that was growing and expanding.”
He chose to study business management, knowing that as a young musician he could use those skills to further his career. Castillo credits his course work at UTSA with teaching him to work with people from different backgrounds with different points-of-view. He also learned how to handle the pressures of a career and how to manage his time.
“It was the best experience of my life,” he said. “Whenever I meet my younger fans, I always tell them, ‘Go to college. It’ll be the best time of your life.’ It was the best time of mine. I learned how to be responsible and to survive on my own. Those are valuable skills.”
As a student at UTSA, Castillo began working with an award-winning San Antonio-based producer, Gilbert Velasquez, who had previously worked with Selena among many others. Castillo worked as a studio musician and also helped to arrange songs. He soon became anxious to work on his own music, especially in a city where Tejano music is so influential.
“I wanted to reach a younger audience with my music and broaden interest in the accordion,” he said. “I started to craft my own style.”
Castillo graduated from UTSA in 2008 and has since performed at venues across the United States and gained a loyal, ever-growing fan base. Just two years after he graduated, Castillo won Best New Male Artist at the Tejano Music Awards. He’s become known for his custom accordions and enthusiastic live performances.
Since 2009, Castillo has released five albums and two DVDs, with a new album due in early 2018. This year he collaborated with musician Juan Treviño on the song “Siempre Es Así,” which won a Latin Grammy for Best Regional Song earlier this month.
“There are a lot of challenges that go along with being an independent artist,” Castillo said. “When I was at UTSA, I learned how to work in different avenues. People think they’re going to be musicians, but it’s about more than the music. You have to work with people, promote your work and make certain your work is coming off exactly right. My time at UTSA prepared me for that.”
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The events are a collaborative effort between student organizations, student led-groups, and campus departments.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
UTSA is a designated early voting site for the May 4 Joint, General and Special Election. Any registered Bexar County voter can skip the lines and cast a ballot at UTSA from Monday, April 22 to Tuesday, April 30.H-E-B Student Union Bexar Room (HSU 1.102), Main Campus
The Campus Master Plan task force and Page consultants will share the initial draft of the master plan.Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus
The Campus Master Plan task force and Page consultants will hold a series of meetings in late April and early May to share the initial draft of the master plan.Buena Vista Street Building Aula Canaria (BVB 1.328), Downtown Campus
In this UTSA 50th anniversary speaker series, Roger Enriquez, UTSA associate professor of criminal justice, explores how immigration past and present helps us understand its future.Casa Hernán, 411 Cevallos St., San Antonio
Grab a friend and sign up to bowl with fellow Roadrunners and raise money for scholarships.University Bowl, 12332 I-10 #10, San Antonio
UTSA's first spring Commencement ceremony begins at 10 a.m., May 18 and honors graduates from the College of Liberal and Fine Arts and University College.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio
Students who are earning a degree from the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, College of Business and College of Engineering will cross the stage on May 18 at 4 p.m.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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