Island Records launches PH label, signs Juan Karlos, Fern, Lala Vinzon

Rick Olivares

Posted at Jul 24 2020 03:48 PM | Updated as of Jul 24 2020 06:42 PM

MANILA -- One of the world’s most influential record companies has opened shop in the Philippines. 

Joining revered and legendary acts Bob Marley and the Wailers, U2, Roxy Music, Queen, the Cranberries, Amy Winehouse, Post Malone, Ariane Grande, and Drake to name but a few are Filipino artists Juan Karlos, Over October, Lala Vinzon, Zack Tabudlo, Fern, and One Click Straight. 

Island Records Philippines was unveiled to the Filipino market last July 23 with a press conference to announce their establishment in the country as well as their roster of local talent.

Founded by visionary English businessman and record producer Chris Blackwell, Island Records was considered, prior to its sale in 1989 to major label Polygram, as one of “Britain’s best independent labels” for its willingness to sign international acts and for bringing reggae music to the world at large.

Through Island Records, Jamaica’s reggae music was introduced to the world at large through Bob Marley and the Wailers and Toots and the Maytals. The sophisticated art rock of English band Roxy Music was a huge influence on New Wave and electronic music. 

“The launch marks the beginning of a new chapter in the illustrious history of Island Records,” pronounced managing director Enzo Valdez. “We are excited to launch Island Records here in the Philippines and to build our own family of local artists, that can further extend the huge legacy of Island within the region and beyond. In the coming years, we will look to establish Island as a home to some of the most impactful and important artists from the Philippines, whilst introducing them to new audiences around the world through UMG’s unrivalled global network of companies around the world.”

The initial roster of Filipino talent is just as diverse with their music. 

Lala Vinzon and Zach Tabudio are young pop sensations, while four-piece band Juan Karlos’ style is an exciting amalgam of blues and soul. One Click Straight is an up and coming electronic pop outfit, while Over October is an alternative rock band. Fern. is – in his terms – a cool indie pop artist.

As for signing any local reggae artist, Valdez didn’t close the door on the possibility. “Island has roots in supporting reggae. Would we be open to introducing Philippine reggae acts? If we find the right artist, definitely.” 

When asked about if Island Records Philippines plans to give its local crew the vinyl or cassette treatment as both mediums have made a strong comeback, Valdez said that it was a “possibility down the line.”

“Personally, I am a fan of vinyl and cassette tapes. Panahon natin 'yan. It is something that we can reintroduce to the Gen Z market. The Island artists now are focused on creating that new trend for the Gen Z market. Hopefully, down the line. We are open to that. I would like to come out with a compilation of those artists on vinyl and tape,” he said.

Valdez also bared that there are planned online live shows by their new artists to promote their music. “We want to be creative. We have a couple of digital concerts down the line. But we have to make it exciting for the fans,” he said.