By Ellie Willson
As the clock neared midnight on Oct. 21, sophomore Darby Cappillino sat with her family to celebrate the release of her new single, “Need,” in their Thompson Station home. Soon after, however, she had to return to her Johnson Hall dorm to meet curfew.
With 41,000 Instagram followers, Cappillino’s brand is easily recognized by her pink clothes and sparkly shoes. What most people fail to see, however, is a hard working musician ready to make a name for herself.
Cappillino was born into a family of talented musicians. Her mother, Leigh, is a member of the contemporary Christian music vocal group, Point of Grace, and her father, Dana, was the group’s guitarist following years of touring with a variety of other artists.
“It was constant noise, constant humming,” said Cappillino. “I think I was just in a very creative household, and so constantly there were musicals on tv, there was guitar playing in the background, and that’s how I fell in love with music because I was just constantly surrounded by it.”
Cappillino recalls early childhood memories of seeing her mother on stage, calling it a dream come true to be able to tour with her parents. Now, she follows in their footsteps to create her dream life.
Cappillino’s parents met while singing at Trevecca Nazarene University many years before she was born. Singing together in a group called Truth, the Cappillino parents set a precedent their 19-year-old daughter has begun to follow.
Cappillino attends Trevecca to earn her associate degree in Music Production. Although her career has well begun, she still chose to attend college to many people’s surprise.
“I wanted to have an experience of community,” said Cappillino. “I wanted to experience normal heartbreak and friendships to be inspired to write more personal, good songs. I do think there is something really special about living so close to Nashville, I mean we really are just in the prime spot with downtown 10 minutes away.”
With music row just three miles away, Cappillino has easy access to her studio, management team, and performance venues; locations she used to live 45 minutes from at home.
“I knew that music was what I wanted to do as a young girl,” said Cappillino. “The Matty B video when I was 13 launched me into getting acting agents. That was my first audition where I got the job day-of. Because of that YouTube video, my LA agents right now saw that video and wanted to work with me.”
Following the success of the Matty B music video titled “You,” a classmate from middle school reached out to Cappillino with an offer that would change the trajectory of her career. The friend’s older brother, Justin Ebach, had seen Cappillino’s work and wanted to meet with her. Ebach has worked with the likes of Lauren Daigle, Newsboys, Dan + Shay and more, making this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the young artist.
Although a member of a deeply connected family within the music industry, Cappillino prides herself on breaking into the music industry on her own merit. From creating her own YouTube videos to auditioning for dozens of roles, Cappillino spent years working towards her career. Along the way, she found her videos going viral on more than one occasion.
Still reeling from the success of her Matty B feature, Cappillino and two of her closest friends formed a trio, named DAE3, and posted a video to Facebook in January of 2018 that received over 20 million views.
“I was only 14 when the video blew up, so I didn’t truly grasp it,” said DAE3 member Anna Beth Shults. “I didn’t know that so many opportunities could be given to us from one video. I was also in shock. I thought we were decent, but to see that millions of people loved our video was crazy.”
On another occasion, the three sang a medley of songs from The Greatest Showman and quickly found themselves being reposted to actor Hugh Jackman’s Twitter account.
Since then, Cappillino has transitioned from singing covers to writing and releasing her own songs.
“[Ebach] started developing me as an artist,” said Cappillino. “For years we would write, co-write, and when I was 17 I signed a publishing deal with Universal Publishing to make songwriting my job.”
Previously inexperienced with writing her own music, Cappillino took this new challenge and quickly found she was skilled at it. Presently, Cappillino has 14 songs on her discography, which is available for streaming on most music applications.
“She has really grown into the style of music that she is most passionate about,” said Schults. “She has also gained so many fans and listeners over the years. She works so hard and gets better at writing and creating music every day. It’s her passion and it’s very obvious.”
“I like writing my own stuff,” said Cappillino. “It’s funny, I tend to write more sad, sassy, depressing songs when I’m in a really good time in my life.”
Her job, however, goes far beyond creating music. The work done behind the scenes is relatively unseen, yet it takes the bulk of Cappillino and her management team’s time. For instance, running a verified Instagram account with over 40,000 followers is not as simple as posting every few days and interacting with your friends.
“Social media is definitely part of marketing for my artistry,” said Cappillino. “Being a musician, I am the CEO of myself. At the end of the day, I’m the boss, so I have to do everything I can to promote my music and promote myself as a funny and charismatic person. I am in control of how people view me.”
Leading up to the Oct 20 release of “Need”, Cappillino found herself making TikTok-style videos for her various accounts to advertise the song.
“I’m trying to post three times a week like I’m told,” said Cappillino. “Even though it’s really hard. I have to find the balance of being real and being a musician. At the end of the day, would I call myself an influencer? Sure. That term I don’t like, but sure. It’s all marketing.”
Recent social media posts from Cappillino on Instagram and TikTok have showcased a side of Darby fans were previously unexposed to.
“She is definitely the funniest person I have ever known,” said Schults. “You have to get to know her to realize it, but I have never once hung out with her without having a laugh attack.”
With a new era of Darby emerging, Cappillino teases the future of her brand
“[Coming up is] more consistent song releases, projects, EPs, albums, a significant body of work is to be worked on,” said Cappillino. “Constantly writing, taking every audition that I can.”
Not everything, however, is public yet.
“That’s what’s new without me being in trouble,” said Cappillino. “And more things that I can’t say. It’ll be out in six months.”
As Cappillino gears up for the upcoming year of projects, releases and surprises for fans, there is still much work to be done. Until then, tomorrow she will wake up for chapel in the morning and finish her night like the rest of Trevecca: doing homework and preparing for class.