James Reid’s “Soda” opens in ways you’d expect—a snap, crackle and pop, with the fizzy sound of a carbonated drink. In a nutshell, it’s comfort in a can. And somehow, James turned it into his latest track.
As the first single after his solo career’s three-year hiatus, “Soda” signals the singer-slash-music producer’s return to experimentation with new genres. It has the smooth sounds of soul with a mix of electronic funk for good measure. But while “Soda” sounds like a departure from James’ R&B inclinations on “Palm Dreams” at least—it still swims in familiar albeit unpredictable tones.
“[‘Soda’s’ sound is] something that I’ve always really wanted to make,” James says at an online press con, after being asked on genres he hoped to tackle next. “I’m using hints of Daft Punk. They’re artists whom I’ve loved since I was a teenager. The only poster in my room is Daft Punk and [their] ‘Discovery’ album, and that electro-funk feel is always something I’ve wanted to do.”
He continues, “[It’s] just taking from the things that I liked in my childhood and sounds that I’ve always loved, and kind of experimenting with that.”
Solos are collabs, too
The lyrics of Soda reflect the rocky path of 2020 and going with the tide, with lines like “That’s the way I like it, unpredictable / Why you wanna fight it? / How can we know if we don’t go?” The same can be said of his style in producing music—it acknowledges the past but is unafraid to change things up. And the best way to experiment? Collaborations.
“There’s a term that I’ve learned recently called ‘demoitis.’ You get it when you really love the demo. It’s hard to move on from that because you’d love the original sound, and then you [have to] change it. But, you know, sometimes when you let go of that original idea, you get something better.”
Take “Soda,” for example. After James built the foundations of the track, one of his producers, Isagani Palabyab, brought in some instrumentalists for a “live feel.” Careless Music’s Massiah and Nadine Lustre joined in on the songwriting, too.
“Nadine wrote the line, ‘Don’t lose the stars in your eyes.’ [It] basically means don’t give up, don’t lose hope,” James says.
“[‘Soda’s’ sound is] something that I’ve always really wanted to make. That electro-funk feel is always something I’ve wanted to do.”
When asked why Nadine remains one of his top collaborators, he says, “I guess because we know each other very well. She kind of knows what’s in my head. So, she was able to pick up the idea very quickly. And Nadine’s been improving a lot as a songwriter over the past two years.”
But wait, there’s more
“Soda” is just one of the many collabs James Reid has in store for us, with Careless and his American label Transparent Arts lining up more projects this year alone.
“We’ve been working on some other tracks with LA producers. They’re very heavily involved with the following singles,” James says.
“I’ll be releasing quite a few singles this first half of the year. We’ll have more music coming from Nadine. And also her concert, which will be coming up. We have an album from Massiah, which we’ve been working on. Bret [Jackson] and Massiah have been working really hard and it sounds great.”
In the meantime, we’ll be basking in a tall cold drink and adding it to our playlists, too.
Listen to “Soda” below.
Photography by Zon Lee
Grooming by Mac Igarta
Styling by Gee Jocson with Antonina Amoncio and Kyle Cruz