In the Theory of Evolution as penned by Charles Darwin, he defends that in the natural scheme of selection, it isn’t the strongest that survive, but rather the ones most agile and adept to change.
Tracking our steps to the exploratory expanse of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, we figure out individual modes of survival, as exhibited by James Reid and Bret Jackson. Not even remotely complicit to any expected competition, the brothers, bound by circumstance and music, come together to endure and exist, proving that while now less calculated and perhaps well, careless, their truth is all that matters.
It has been four years since MEGA last crossed paths with James Reid. Back then, he was one half of the most prominent love team of the time, with several projects lined up and a fast-rising career desired by many. Now, at the colorful and festive country of Brazil, James joins us in an exclusive tell-all of his recent and future travails—his career in music, his relationship with Nadine Lustre, and his much-awaited plans for the future, the artist ingénue speaks up, sharing his truth with no reservations.
James starts, “A lot has happened since Greece. Probably the biggest change was me leaving Viva and being 100% hands-on with Careless. That’s definitely been the biggest change. It’s been crazy. I’ll tell you that it’s very difficult. But it’s been a really good learning experience for me. I’m kind of taking things to my own hand—besides taking care of myself and my own career.” An iconic superstar of his generation, James has lived much of his life under the watchful eye of the public—and with it, the burdens of its praise and scrutiny. A successful career spanning nearly a decade is something that most artists can only dream of, and James has nothing but gratitude for the life that he has been blessed with. Yet like most young artists who have spent a huge majority of their career on a well-drawn blueprint, the desire to break away from the mold can prove too tempting. And James took his leap of faith.
“I felt that I had some things that I wanted to do. And my ideas were different from Viva’s (his former management agency). So I decided it was best that I take control of my career. We’re still on good terms. But I don’t know, I had a different vision of where I would be in my career and a lot of it was to do with music. I really wanted to push it further and I wanted to see how far I can take this,” James tells us. The decision was a bold and unexpected move that astonished both fans and critics. With his departure from Viva, the agency handed him his music label—then known as Careless Music Manila—and with it, the management duties. Now the chairman of the recently independent label, he takes on a gargantuan task—one that he is more than willing to take.
James, after all, is no stranger to the music industry. With the critical success of his third album Palm Dreams a couple of years ago, it is without any doubt, that he has more aces up his sleeve. The drive and purpose alone of Careless is a breath of fresh air from what most artists in the country are used to. And this vision has attracted not only throngs of fans but the respect of many talented artists as well. “We want to be the label that artists can go to, and know that they have creative freedom. We just want to change the game,” he explains. Having observed much of the processes that his contemporaries go through, further reflection on the issue made him realize what he can do with his own volition. The incredible power to spark change was something he just couldn’t put aside. “It was hard for me to not do it once I saw it because I felt like I was in a position to help change it. So it wasn’t even my choice anymore. I knew that I had to do this. It just felt right,” he affirms.
The quick succession of life-altering changes may seem daunting, but James approaches this with a positive and hopeful perspective. And regarding his relationship with Nadine—who until recently, he has parted ways with romantically—he has more or less, similar sentiments. The decision was not an easy thing to make, but self-awareness taught them both to look at what would benefit their personal lives and careers best. Both ambitious and highly-achieving, James and Nadine have made a mark in the entertainment industry as a power couple, in and out of the limelight. Back then, a career outside the partnership was out of the question. But now, at the peak of their careers and with varying personal interests and successes, it was something that was clearly worth asking. James admits, “I am not sure who I am without Nadine yet. We’ve been in a love team for so long. And that’s been my whole life. I can’t even begin to think of who I am or what I’m supposed to be outside of that love team, which is scary. And that’s why I said I got a lot of figuring out to do. But as far as aspirations go, I’d like to just get to know myself better and become more independent.”
He takes a pause, reviewing the word he’d just said. The spotlight has made things more complicated than they already are.
“People might say I’m a bit heartless. I don’t want it to seem like me wanting to know who I am without Nadine is the only reason. There are too many to point out, but that’s all I’m able to share without going into depth. I still love her. It’s just my perspective on love has broadened.”
This self-made path may not be the most comfortable or easiest for James, but the journey so far has been fun for him, owing to the support of his Careless team who has believed in his vision since the label’s early beginnings. “Definitely one of the biggest challenges was I wasn’t just starting a business, I was starting a business with friends which is a dream in itself because everyone tells you ‘Don’t be getting business with your friends because it’s difficult.’ And so I didn’t listen to everyone and I went ahead and did it anyway. It’s been hard. But honestly, I think that we’ve become better friends since. We’ve really pulled together as a group and this year in 2020, it’s no longer like a school project. It’s no longer just for passion. It’s really become a purpose for us. Before, it was just a group of friends doing their thing and having fun and we’ve gotten this far without any real marketing strategy. This year, we brought on more professionals to help us out in various parts of the business,” he says.