MANILA, Philippines—Top, independent music game-changer Careless Music collaborates with young Filipino creatives on a whimsical multimedia treat to end the year, featuring two of their artists, James Reid and Massiah.
The visual project highlights the collaborative process and the full artistic freedom exemplified by the partnership forged with the young creatives. Looking back at the year that was, Reid has shook up the local music industry with the release of three hit singles since his last solo album back in 2017 entitled Palm Dreams.
Starting with the release of “Soda” last January, the multimedia royalty takes on an introspective route with this electro-funk track and an intergalactic music video. Then “Crazy” comes out in May as the classic pop-rock summer anthem with a chill-by-the-beach visualizer. Finally, the mash-up of an R&B soul and pop-funk rhythm that is “Hello” was released in June, accompanied by the quirky music video where he donned a mustache.
Image courtesy of Careless Music
To mark Reid’s sonically- and visually-packed year, Careless worked with a pool of both accomplished veterans and bright-eyed budding creatives in the local industry to translate the artist and his music’s creative journey and evolution this year into visual treats.
Emerging photographer and Rank Magazine collaborator Jan Mayo, joined by multimedia artist & illustrator Wika Nadera, together with art director Marc Yellow, based the concept of Reid’s photos from “Soda”. To bring the visual project to fruition, they bring in designers PJ Almera and Diandra Muassab for set design. Hair & makeup artist Mac Igarta and fashion stylist Gee Jocson pair up as the artists’ glam team.
To take the photos to another dimension, Nadera tops the photos off with his distinct visual style with supernatural illustrations and animates the whole setting with fellow artist & animators Valeria Bolival and Chesleigh Nofiel. The result is a 1960s-’70s retro-scifi/retrofuturism 3-piece photo spread that jumps to life with the animated version.
(from the left:) “The Pilot”, “The Pilgrim”, “The Prince” (Animated). Photographed by Jan Mayo, illustrated by Wika Nadera, animated by Valeria Bolival and assisted by Chesleigh Nofiel. Images courtesy of Careless Music.
Nadera even brings in another pair of multimedia artists, Max Santiago and Sofia Hurtado, to turn this unearthly setting into an augmented reality face filter that can be used on social media to transport users into the famed musician’s otherworldly galaxy, soon to be launched under Reid’s IG account.
Screenshot of the IG filter courtesy of Careless Music
Mayo shares, “Careless gave us the necessary creative freedom to make our artistic and collaborative vision come to life. The artwork is not a work of just one or two people, there was a whole team behind this that contributed ideas during the whole process, from start to finish.”
“Every project [with Careless] is different and unique which challenges me to think outside the box and to create new designs with enthusiasm,” Almera shares, “They value collaboration, push for creativity, and respects giving credit [to the creatives], which lead to great camaraderie and exceptional outputs every time.”
Yellow then adds, “Everyone was willing to collaborate. There are no bad ideas, just pure passion.”
Images courtesy of Careless Music
Nadera, the 22-year-old illustrator also mentions the origins of the idea for the layouts straight off the description box of Soda’s music video on Youtube, “We are wanderers, lost in the galaxy of thought. Dive in the rivers of life—let its flow bring you to truth and purpose and know that exploration comes from within.” He furthers, “We wanted to establish an environment where there was a balance of the natural and the unnatural; and play with light to simulate different atmospheres.”
On the other hand, Careless Music’s resident rapper Massiah also had an eventful year buzzing with new music releases. He puts his name on the list of promising local musicians with his trilogy of singles released one month apart starting in September. “Stay With Me”, “Paid For It”, and “Higher” all reflect the artist’s signature R&B rap and tropical beat genres.
For these songs, Massiah was proudly inspired by his roots of growing up surrounded by a mix of nature in an island in the Philippines, and the rich African-culture of Ghana. Even the music videos that came with each release were all shot on-location at his home island with a full-on tropical vibe directed by the artist himself. Marked by this same goal, Careless Music and the pool of creatives staged Massiah in a wilderness playground that is reflective of his identity.
Photographs by Jan Mayo
Massiah’s naturalistic photos, unlike James’ otherworldly layout, stems from his unique cultural background. Instead of celestial illustrations, the set design takes center stage to visually highlight the influences that come out in his music. The lighting, also with the theme, depicts both the golden hours of an African savanna, and a bright night there among wildlife under the stars.
Set designer PJ Almera reveals how he conceptualized his set design, saying he wanted to capture the artist in a king-like setting while wandering around in his element. “We noticed that [Massiah] likes to explore nature. In a way, we recreated that but tapped into the Ghanaian landscape with a familiar nostalgic atmosphere,” he shares.
But aside from his love of the outdoors, Massiah is also fully engaged to go far in his music career. And that’s what Mayo focused on for the layouts of the rapper. He wanted to portray Massiah’s modest roots under the lens of an international hip-hop artist.
Photos by Jan Mayo
Nadera recounts how the artists and the label have been very supportive of this project since they pitched it to them last March 2021. Through all the various planning sessions, preparations, and delays, everyone part of the project has contributed as much patience as they did hard work to get to the finish line.
He says, “It has been a tough year but I am lucky enough to have worked with kind people who have significantly contributed to my experience on collaborative projects.”
In the end, this whole project with Reid, Massiah, and the creative team, produced a well crafted multimedia spread that is novel to the local media, with both visual delights and meaning. They are fresh media that can be enjoyed by fans of the artists, but also by enthusiasts of creative activity in general.