Wicker Park musician KAINA channels cultural background to create unique sound

Our next "Rising Star" is one of the most sought out collaborators in the city and often name checked by her peers as an artist to watch.

And with a new album on the way, there's quite the buzz over KAINA.

Raised in Wicker Park to Venezuelan and Guatemalan parents, KAINA Castillo's home was filled with the sounds of her parents' homeland while she simultaneously immersed herself in the R&B and hip-hop coming out of Chicago.

It was at local youth organizations such as the Happiness Club and Young Chicago Authors that KAINA began to develop her identity as an artist 

"That was a major staple of my life especially because I didn't grow up with a bunch of family near. That became family and the thing that influenced me as a person," she said.

It was while learning from her mentors at these organizations, along with watching other rising Chicago artists -- like "Kids These Days" and the "O'My's" -- that KAINA cultivated what would become the mantra of her career.

"Before anything I wanna make sure I'm a good person and that you're a good person and then we can collaborate," she said. "I learned everything from them...and just watching them be good people."​​​​​​​

And now that she has started to establish herself around Chicago, KAINA hopes to pass the lessons she has learned down to the younger artists across the city.​​​​​​​

"I had to learn and it was hard and now that I've learned, I want their experience to be easier than mine was," she said.

With the release of her new album on the horizon, KAINA flourishes with the help of another up and coming Chicago artist, Sen Morimoto, who helped her with the production on her debut album and also shares the first generation American experience.

"It's really easy to work with somebody who's your best friend and knows how your brain works," KAINA said.​​​​​​​ "His life is similar to mine and we are both able to create from the same place."

And the one impression KAINA hopes her new music leaves her fans with is a simple one.

"I just hope that people can find something in there that makes them feel less alone and they relate and feel less small in the world," she said.

KAINA's debut album "Next to The Sun" will be released Friday with a record release show on Sunday at Lincoln Hall.