EXCLUSIVE: James Reid Talks About “Soda,” Planning For 2021, And Normalizing Being In Difficult Situations
He shares what else is in store for him as well as his labelmates, and talks about how the pandemic affected his approach to business and creating music
“I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen to this single,” said James Reid over Zoom last Friday, January 29, the launch date of his newest song, “Soda.”
The 4-minute electro-funk track is his first release of the year, and his first solo endeavor since Palm Dreams back in 2017 as well as a handful of singles in the years between then and now, including “Complicated Love” from Nadine Lustre’s new album, Wildest Dreams.
“[‘Soda’] is one of the many singles I plan to release this year,” he added, teasing fans and listeners with what’s to come. “Soda”—which he revealed in a virtual press conference Thursday last week had been written partly in collaboration with his labelmates, Nadine and Massiah—is the product of a year under quarantine; a year existing in a pandemic.
“It really was because of everything that was happening,” he told Metro.Style about what inspired him to write the song. “It was everything also that I was learning. It’s been a really difficult year for everyone, and we’ve all had to struggle in many different ways. It’s kind of taught me that it’s in these struggles and it’s in these difficult times that people really learn the most.”
James had written the song just last year, immediately recognizing something extraordinary about it, thus becoming Careless’ first release of 2021.
“It’s my reintroduction back into music,” he said. “I was planning on creating singles for [the year]. But then once I made this track, we all immediately decided this has to come out in January. We have to start the year right, we have to start strong. And it just felt right with this track.”
“Soda” may just be the perfect start to a new year, especially one that immediately follows something like 2020. It already has the makings of a classic, even less than a week after its release, thanks to its smooth production and timeless sound—“I’m using hints of Daft Punk,” said James in the press con for “Soda.”
The duo’s influence on this track is unequivocal, and runs in James’ musicality, too: “I gravitate towards the things that really made my eyes blow up when I was a kid,” he said, talking about formative musical influences, including music that his older brother would make him listen to.
‘The year we’ve been planning for’
Careless, the record label he started back in 2017 alongside Bret Jackson, has been a steady, reliable presence in the local music industry, allowing artists like himself not to compromise their artistry for the sake of money. It’s important for James that Careless continues to be a platform that can give artists the tools they need to make a sustainable career out of their music. “Usually in the industry,” James says, “it’s like that. If you want to make a lot of money, you have to sacrifice on your art. If you don’t want to sacrifice on your art, then you can’t expect to make a lot of money. But this 2021, that’s one of the things that we want to prove: that you can do both.”
This is especially crucial during a pandemic, which has helped James and Careless focus on what truly matters. “The pandemic definitely changed things,” he said. “Especially for a lot of people I worked with, it was do or die. We were in survival mode. We were able to cut out a lot of the BS, and just focus on what’s actually really important. But we really just banded together and we focused on building up Careless and our other business endeavors. We treat it almost like a family business.”
And sure enough, sometime soon, there’s going to be a new member of the Careless family, but James isn’t saying yet who. “I’m really excited for everyone to see the content and the releases that we have coming for this year,” James said. “We have a new artist who’s coming out very, very soon. We’ll be announcing within the first quarter.”
“We also have solo projects from our other artists and more singles as well coming from me and Nadine,” he added. “So there’s a lot to look forward to. This is the year we’ve been planning for.”
A new normal
If there’s anything James learned from the past year, it’s that he’s most eager to learn from past mistakes and create “a new normal,” he said, “one that doesn’t tolerate certain things that were accepted before.” “Soda,” he says, is “the reflection of that perspective.”
“From 2020, it’s in those difficult times that really push you to your limits,” he added. “That’s something that I’m trying to bring into into 2021. I’m trying to normalize being in those difficult situations, to not make a big deal out of them.”
“If this is good for me, and if this is good for the growth of my company, and if it’s good for the relationships I have with the people around me, then I’ll endure it. Whatever it is, I’ll endure it.”
Listen to “Soda” below:
Lead photo from @james