Losing himself in music and in the great outdoors feels completely right for the 25-year-old multi-hyphenate

By Eric Nicole Salta

If James Reid’s partnership with global outdoor and lifestyle brand Merrell proves anything, it’s that collaborations can sometimes spur ideas into action—like getting more people to embrace spontaneity.

“I don’t really like to plan it. It’s always better when it’s spontaneous,” the 25-year-old singer-songwriter says when asked about the kind of adventures he gravitates towards. “That’s something I’m looking for. You never really know until the journey is over. Something you kind of figure out along the way.”

“But, it should be hard!”

‘Hard’ in the word’s truest sense. Like six-hour hikes carrying a backpack full of water and tents. “They’re physically hard but they’re still worth it.”

The overriding feeling you get from Reid’s endorsement of exploring the outdoors as well as joining Merrell as its newest ambassador is the overwhelming necessity to find freedom in escapism, in the desire to explore new territory. 

“Nature helps bring me back to myself. It helps me reset and put things into perspective. When I’m at the top of the mountain, my problems seem so small so it just takes getting away from those bad thoughts and putting good thoughts in”

Focusing mostly on his musical craft these days with Careless Music Manila, Reid oscillates between two modes: sonic exploration and thrill-seeking adventurism. This subconscious longing for a whole spectrum of pursuits inside the studio, on the stage, up on a mountain, down and dirty in the trails, and even far out into the sea are stitched together on social media, particularly his Instagram account. There, Reid alternates between breathing in mouthfuls of fresh mountain air and diving into the deep ocean with more cinematic, cosmic onstage affairs with his brand of lilting, swooning music to relay the importance of setting boundaries. “We tend to go crazy if we’re in the city for too long. We’re meant to be out in nature,” he says, which is fortified by his latest sultry, downtempo “Summer” release.

“It can be really intense sometimes for me with singing and being in showbiz. Sometimes, the stress really builds up and it can be toxic,” he admits. “Nature helps bring me back to myself. It helps me reset and put things into perspective. When I’m at the top of the mountain, my problems seem so small so it just takes getting away from those bad thoughts and putting good thoughts in.”

James wearing the Merrell Choprock in Granite

Even prior to finding success in the Philippines, Reid had always possessed an outdoorsy mentality—finding time to hike mountains to keep him grounded despite his meteoric rise to the upper echelons of show business, even calling hiking “very spiritual.”

Yet at his most audacious and adventurous, he presents a hypnotically different side. “What’s on my mind that I want to do next is I want to climb the hiking trail in Nepal near the base of Mount Everest. It’s a nine-day hike and I’ve been planning it with some friends for awhile now.”

Everest might be a stretch for most of his fans but it’s tempting to imagine what he could instill in his audience’s psyche. We’d say, a little more taste in adventure.