An Inside Peek: Welcome to Island City
James Reid’s Careless Music Manila ushers in a platform for music, entertainment and all things authenticity. Say hello to Island City
Last Saturday as August bid adieu, Island City made its way into the limelight as the James Reid-led collective Careless Music Manila launched their new entertainment platform in partnership with Globe Postpaid. The group also held their invite-only listening party for their follow-up mixtape thereafter at the same venue, Green Sun Makati.
Stepping inside the venue from rainy Makati quickly transported visitors into a tangible rendering of the group’s vision for Island City––to be “a hive for talented individuals who journey beyond borders,” that is. Comprised of James Reid, Bret Jackson aka KingwAw, Nadine Lustre, Curtismith, Massiah, Astrokidd and Narez La Fuego; the tight-knit clan’s dedication to shake up music culture in the country did away with the mere parade of pretty faces, instead serving up a full-on audiovisual experience.
This included thoughtful set-ups purposively brought to life by MVLTIVERSE, along with Leeroy New’s production design. Immersive art filled the grounds as techno-foliage renders and laser lighting flowed through the room. The energy of brave passion filled the space as familiar faces from the industry walked by.
Island City prides itself on being “by artists, for artists.” It’s a simple message, and nothing new. Though what’s exciting is the sincerity of it all; because truth be told owner James Reid, along with his real-life beau, ka-loveteam, and collaborator Nadine Lustre didn’t need to do this. Addressing the loyal elephant in the room, it seems JaDine fans will always be JaDine fans, with or without Island City; but the group opted to laser-focus their dedication and effort towards showcasing talents of artists they find to be undeservedly unknown, rather than banking on the surveilling eyes that have long been on them.
The event occurred in four acts: the Welcome, the Secret, the Experience and the Goodbye. The first floor showcased musical acts, clothing brands, and art connoisseurs; all of which are homegrown. Performances by underground artists scouted by the group such as Duane Insane, MNL$ and Debbie Morena kicked off the event as guests made their way through the Island City realm. James Reid then took to the stage to announce the Secret, which was the listening party to occur upstairs.
The listening party commenced with a thunderstorm of art installations, followed by a bright orange sunrise that filled the room. Immediately everyone on the floor was hooked, and the intrigue readied the crowd for the hype as the first song from the mixtape took over the atmosphere. The crowd was brought to their feet, vibing to the group’s signature sound of trap-inspired beats. Each song had a different sound as the mixtape set out to hero each of their seven members, as the artists sang and danced along to their hard work.
Frankly speaking, the music isn’t unheard of. The visual identity, while interesting, certainly isn’t brand new, but one thing’s for certain: the renegade spirit of showbiz runaways is certainly there. The group’s intent is worth believing in, and their journey of passionate dedication is quite exciting to watch unfold.
What otherwise could have been an exploitation of the JaDine love team’s extreme fame leverage instead was executed as a bona fide attempt at subverting the mainstream consciousness of what “celebrity” means. This spirit showed through during the event, and it’s quite safe to say that it paid off. Welcome to Island City proved to be an apt name for the event, as they really did want those outside of their group involved in their mission of a new era for Filipino music.
If the impressive event was truly a sneak peek of what Island City will bring to the culture, then it really is something to be celebrated. Peel back the layers a little further and discover what goes on in the minds of James Reid, Narez La Fuego and Henzon Lee, the forces behind Careless Music Manila and Island City.
Words and Photos Danielle Francisco
Art Alexandra Lara