Nobody doesn't know established professional actor James Reid, especially in the Philippines. But as a multi-talented musician, it's just the beginning. After declaring a hiatus from the small screen, the Australian-Filipino artist decides to pursue music full-time and established his own indie record label Careless Music while managing himself independently.
This risk paid off and Reid's acclaimed debut album Palm Dreams nabbed him major music awards such as MYX Music Awards and MTV EMA. Furthermore, it resulted in amassing massive music streams and video plays on platforms like YouTube.
Reid's latest release, 'Soda', is an energetic electro-funk track that encapsulates the worry-free feeling of embarking on a journey without cares while cruising down the highway with one hand out the car window with wind in the hair.
"Despite the chaos and tragedy that was 2020, it really challenged me and forced me to evolve in more ways than just music," Reid said. "So there’s been a silver lining. I made this song as a reflection of that perspective. Learning to ride the highs and the lows. The future is unknown, so all we can do is have enough self-awareness to make the most out of life's surprises."
We caught up with Reid to discuss his musical pursuits and on pushing the limits while being independent.
ESQ: How did you start your own record label Careless Music?
James Reid: I’ve always been into music and music production. I started using [Apple's] Garage Band when I was 15 trying to make Electronica like Daft Punk and Justice. But I started taking it seriously after my acting career.
The mainstream music industry in the Philippines is probably like 10 years behind the rest of the world. At the time when I released my first original album Palm Dreams, song covers were still topping charts.
I started my label Careless Music because of the great feedback of that album. Given that it was pop, it was original and no one else was making music like that. So, there was a lot of room to grown and it was exciting. It’s been difficult as an indie label but my main driving force for doing this is being able to give other local artists the same opportunities for success that I had with the tools and platform that I didn’t.
ESQ: Describe your creative song-writing process.
James Reid: For me, the process starts anywhere. And it all comes down to the emotion or experience that pops up while I’m creating. As a kid, I was heavily influenced by my older brother.
Growing up in the 90’s he introduced me to the Fugees, De La Soul, Gorillaz, Air and Daft Punk which I think has influenced me the most. But recently tame impala and Khruangbin have got me on a neo-psychedelic-soul-funk wave.
ESQ: What were you trying to convey with ‘Soda’?
James Reid: 'Soda' is about embracing reality. It’s the realisation that was perfectly in the balance of all the craziness that is life. We can’t control it so all we can do is be present enough to make the most out of life’s surprises. Good things don’t last but at the same time difficult times have a purpose, they are opportunities for growth and meaning.
ESQ: How do your influence and music label support budding Asian creatives and musicians, especially in the Philippines? Do you also mentor them?
James Reid: I wouldn’t call myself a mentor, I’m just trying to push the limits of what we call OPM (original Pinoy music) and try to work with people who have the same vision. I think collaboration is the key.
ESQ: What do you miss about presenting your compositions and sounds to a live audience? Are there any alternative or platforms you’ve used that can express your musical vision?
James Reid: The energy. A live performance is a conversation between the audience and the artists. That’s where the magic happens. It’s the connection that people are looking for. But of course, in these strange times, we’ve been able to stay connected through digital concerts, social media, and live streaming. It’s been a fun experience but I can’t wait for tours to come back!
ESQ: What do you think contributed to your success and popularity especially in Asia with your music releases?
James Reid: 100% it’s because of the fans. They’ve been with me through my acting career and continue to support me and the label as we explore internationally as well. The Philippines is known to have some of the wildest fans 🙂
ESQ: What have you been up to lately besides promoting ‘Soda’? Can we expect an album to accompany the ‘Soda’ era with a similar musical vein?
James Reid: Lately we’ve been focused on expanding both locally and internationally. Bringing on new artists, exploring new sounds and producers and experimenting with our market. I’m not exactly in album mode right now but definitely with new music I’ll be diving more into the ‘Soda’ sound.
ESQ: Lastly, what is the most important lesson you’ve learnt so far in life?
James Reid: It’s all a part of the ride. Be here, it’s all we have.
1. 'August 10' — Khruangbin
"First is by Khruangbin, fell in love with their Thai-funk inspired music at the end."
2. 'San Francisco Street' — Sun Rai
"I first heard this song in the morning at a friends beach house. It set the vibe, and the day was great. 'Nuff said."
3. 'Eternal Light' — Free Nationals & Chronixx
"I started listening to free nationals cos I’m a big fan of Anderson .Paak and I would see them play in his live gigs. Good vibrations."
1. 'Lost In Yesterday' — Tame Impala
"Tame Impala is one of my biggest influences. All his lyrics speak to my curious mind and the music is such an introspective trip."
2. 'Something About Us' — Daft Punk
"Had to have a song from my fav electronic duo. Daft punk was actually the first poster I ever had in my room as a kid. Pretty devastated by their break up."
3. 'La femme d’argent' — Air
"I could have this bassline on loop all day."
1. 'Gravitate' — Oscar Jerome
"Some jazzy broken beats for the evening. This song feels like cruising through
2. 'Colour World — Hablot Brown & Tim Atlas
"I've has this song on my playlist for a while now but finding out Tim Atlas is Filipino made me love it even more."
3. 'C-Side' — Khruangbin & Leon Bridges
"Imma finish how we started with Khruangbin but featuring the cool vocals of Leon Bridges from their EP Texas Sun. I honestly just throw this on if I just need something playing in the background"
Enjoyed the tracks? Check out our other ‘Dawn to Dusk’ playlists curated by guest artists each week and follow our Apple Music profile to access our playlist first when it's out.