Scenezoned: Careless Music Manila on Marching to the Beat of Their Own Drum
Now that you’ve met Careless Music Manila and how the collective came to be, we get down and dirty by asking them questions on sound, selling out vs. selling out, and managing an independent label in the Philippines.
From in front of the camera to behind the scenes
When asked how it is working behind the camera instead of in front of it, Bret and James admit that it’s not an easy feat. “It’s hard. It’s definitely hard. Especially when I have to focus on the business side of things, it affects my creativity,” James shares. “That’s why I’m trying to build a team of people I can trust to take care of it so I can be focused on being an artist. And I have!”
On James: Chris Diaz Shirt and Chain
For Bret, he spills that music has really been something that he and James wanted to pursue. “This is really something he wants to do,” Bret says. “He doesn’t have to do this, he has enough money, he has enough everything! He doesn’t have to give himself extra stress but it’s a stress that you want.”
On Sofia: Labo.Art dress and H&M x Moschino jacket
Sellability Vs. Sound
Being veterans in the local spotlight, Bret shares that the best part of Careless is giving artist a safe haven for creative freedom. “It’s freedom to express, we can say whatever we want to say in our songs. We can make whatever song we want. We can put out any song we want and that’s the best thing. When I first started in this industry, I went to a few big names and they had this idea of what they wanted for me,” Bret confesses. They gave him the song and the lyrics and left it at that. “They didn’t want any of my ideas, they just wanted to make something that they think would sell,” he adds. “Nothing against the people who make those songs, it’s’ just that I feel like it’s time for artists to be able to do what they want. Sometimes I always imagine what it would be like if all of these all of these artists were given artistic control and freedom of their music. I wonder what they could make and I’m interested in that.”
As for James, it’s all about the music. Making the transition from a TV star to an independent artist with his own recording label, he knows that it’s not just his fan base listening and watching. “What makes the transition go over is just really good music, really good music that people can respect, that people feel is honest, that’s all it really takes,” James shares. Nadine adds to this by saying that music is another avenue where they can express themselves. “When you’re in showbiz, you can’t really be yourself because you have to portray a character,” she spills. “Sometimes, on the negative side of it, people have an idea of you that’s not really you. People don’t really know who you are but with music, that’s where they’ll get to know you more.”
On Nadine: Chris Diaz
A Growing Sound
With each of them bringing something new and different to the table, Careless in a constant state of collaboration and evolution. As Nadine puts it, everyone in Careless has something to offer, from the business side of the things to the music, each one a building block that supports one another. Despite her star status, she also admits that she’s so pressured to be part of a group of extremely talented people. “Nakakapressure! It’s so nerve wracking! I’m more visual, I’m the visual girl of the group but I have to learn how to write and produce my music. Right now, Bret and James are still helping me out,” she shares.
Being different from each other is what makes Careless work. “You have a bunch of different artists who inspire you in different ways, everyone has their own flavor,” Curtismith points out. “A lot of them have a lot more teeth in the game than me so there’s wisdom in that, that I learn from and I try to give my perspective too. It’s a two-way street. I like how everyone is so supportive of one another, there’s no ego in the way.” He also describes Careless as a basketball team. “We’re always passing the rock to make better plays and we’re always approaching everything as a unit, rather than as an individual.”
On Curtismith: Zanone top
AstroKidd also admits that his sound is getting better now that he’s part of Careless. “Watching Bret, how he prepares everything, how he puts music together, it helps me, too! I’m a way better musician now from when I met Bret,” he points out.
On AstroKidd: Chris Diaz
When we asked Narez La Fuego what his new year’s resolution was for 2019, “I want to push more boundaries with these guys and push them towards the right direction where they all deserve to be in. That’s been my mission for the past 2 months and that’s my mission next year. Let’s see where it goes.”
On Narez La Fuego: Benj Rogano
Unlike other recording label where each artist hoards his or her own spotlight, the dynamics in Careless is different. If you check the CARELESS MIXTAPE on Spotify, it’s 15 songs where they collaborate and work on songs together. Instead of owning a spotlight and basking under it as traditional labels would do with their talents, Careless, as a collective, not only lets its talents share the spotlight with each other, they’ll adjust the bulb, fix the mic stand, and fine tune the speakers, just so each member can shine the way they deserve. And as Careless sees it, this group is more than just a label, they’re a family.
The End Game
While Careless might have started in the hands of three household name artistas, they want people to take the music as it is, not for who they are. This is why Bret goes by KingwAw. “I wanted it to be away from any showbiz stuff that I’ve done. So when people hear it, they’ll just take it as what it is. So when they look up KingwAw, they’ll be WTF that’s the PBB kid?!” he laughs. At the same time, they’re also using the same influence to spread the good news that is Careless.
On Massiah: ÀERON coat and Zanone pullover
Ironically, a lot of people are not huge fans of what Careless is trying to do; those people are actually people Bret personally looks up to. “A lot of people say ‘look at these guys, they think they’re the first people to change OPM’ and it’s true. There has been so many artists before us and artists now that are amazing and are doing it, and I love it. But I just want to see more,” he points out.
For Bret, Careless is something greater than all of them. “If there’s a fire starting because of our label, let’s say more people are saying “I can do something better than that”, I’m happy about that. Please, do! For me, the more people that do this, more kids and artists that get inspired, the more a scene starts. The more labels come up, that’s what we want. That’s the whole point of this. We want everyone to be inspired. I want every kid to pick an instrument instead of reaching for their phone. That’s the hole point of this.”
He further explains that Careless is all about pushing culture, the refusal to settle for what we have now. “We’re gonna keep making music until more people do. We’re gonna keep pushing this culture because when people’s music changes… If you want better music, you get better movies, you get better shows. Then you start to think more. I want better books, you want a better of everything. All the things start to change and that’s what we want.” Bret shares that the end game for them is being able to give a safe space for artists to express themselves and to support all the artists who can’t support themselves. “ There are some people out there that say ‘Oh I don’t have money to rent a studio, I don’t have equipment, and that’s why I can’t make music,’ And in the end, this whole thing is for them in the end.”
So no, this is not just a bunch of artists wanting to make a quick buck or doing some weekend hobby into a thing. Careless isn’t even a bunch of kids rebelling against the norm just to prove something to the big corporate labels.
On KingwAw: H&M x Moschino Jacket and Pants
It’s a given that Careless is young, daring, and fresh—you’d have to be if you want to tackle over an industry that’s been using the same formulas to sell a record. Careless is the right balance of calculated and creative but it takes more than just careful planning, star power, and undying passion to create something like this. Seeing Careless in its early stages is a really good pre-game to a solid Friday night out. It’s true, they’re just getting started.
Producer & Creative Director: Nigel Garcia
Layout by: Dana Malang
Interview by: Patricia Herbolario
Photographer: Alvin Chua
Stylist: Xeena Morales
Set Design: Sarah Quijano
Makeup: Nate Javier
Hair: Apple Alviar
Production Assistants: Keithleen Dicon & Kristine Lucas