It’s a bold move, no matter how you spin it—setting up a record label at a time when the music scene and industry at large are at their most challenged is a hell of a risk. But that’s apparently not stopping Island Records, which is apparently assembling its first division in Asia, right here on our shores. Ladies, gents, and non-binary friends, give it up for Island Records Philippines.
The multinational label, which originated in Jamaica in the 1960s, has nurtured the talent of many iconic artists, from old gods like Elton John, Bob Marley, and Amy Winehouse, to rising legends like Ariana Grande and The Weeknd. These names prove the label’s consistent contribution to the pop tradition, and Island Records Philippines aims to keep it going with its maiden roster. Juan Karlos brings it with a captivating R&B sound; Over October is an indie rock outfit getting their due after grinding in the gig circuit for years; Lala Vinzon is exploring new sounds with her formidable vocals; fern. is the new wunderkind giving beatmakers a run for their money; One Click Straight is bringing pop rock and power pop back to the radio waves; Zack Tabudlo is poised to be the next big thing in pop.
The record label launched on the evening of July 23, with bang-up performances from the roster. Juan Karlos also performed his latest single “Bless U” (now out on Spotify!), an uplifting R&b, gospel-inspired number made to inspire hope in these maddening times. Proceeds from streams of the single will go to organizations assisting medical workers during the pandemic.
On that note, it’s puzzling that a record label would make things kind of move at this time of all times. So how does it plan to respond? Enzo Valdez, Managing Director of MCA, states, “Of course I want my artists—artists of MCA, of Island, of Def Jam—we want to make sure that when the pandemic is done, once we have the vaccine and so on, we actually help them as much as we can. Because of course, the performances [are] where the money is for the artist—going to concerts, going on tour. So we’re trying to find different ways of tying up with bands and so on, to try and make as much as possible to make sure that they can still be artists once the pandemic is done.”
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The fact is, we have a lot to look forward to from a gigantic label with the boldness to make such big steps in such a precarious time. Lala Vinzon is gunning for a Winehouse-inspired sound, and Island Records is definitely going to play a big part in that. Independent musicians are holding streaming concerts, so what’s stopping the roster from pulling something like that, with label-backed production?
It’s good to know that when we can all start going out to gigs again, a whole world of sound will be waiting for us on the other side.
You can watch the launch for Island Records Philippines here.
Photos courtesy of Island Records PH