Ryan Tedder is one of the most respected and sought after musicians of our generation. The OneRepublic frontman is an established songwriter, musician and producer, and has a genuine gift for making the earth move with his music. From stirring ballads to uplifting summer tunes, Ryan puts his all into his music whether it be the band’s material or songs for the likes of Adele and Beyoncé.
However, with the music industry changing rapidly, this year saw Ryan share an open letter with fans, which explained that the band would be changing the way in which they were releasing music. This was partly down to the fact that mental and physical exhaustion pushed Ryan to almost quit music altogether. After ten years of constant promotion, touring and recording, it all got too much for the artist who cited “crippling anxiety” as the cause for losing the energy to do something which normally brings him so much joy.
The band were supported by their label and given time to breathe and reassess their situation. With streaming at an all time high, moving forward, the band decided that they would release individual songs rather than one body of work. Since announcing this, they’ve released a number of incredible offerings including ‘No Vacancy’, ‘Truth To Power’, and ‘Rich Love’ featuring Seeb.
Three weeks after the release of OneRepublic’s latest track ‘Rich Love’, Ryan spoke to Schön! Magazine about the band’s new direction when it comes to releasing music, using songs to shed light on social problems, and the band’s future music.
As the way in which we intake music has changed drastically, OneRepublic are now focused on releasing individual songs which show their diversity as a band. This strategy is already proving to be great both mentally and physically for them. “All we’ve been doing lately is just doing songs. We haven’t gone to radio with a single since probably October. In a way, it’s been the most freeing 9 months I’ve had in 10 years because I don’t have to do any promo,” he said. “You just put stuff out on Spotify and Apple Music…I think being able to just release music as you see fit makes it so much easier. Plus, the world kind of tells you what song they love.”
Despite not promoting their tracks as singles, OneRepublic’s latest offerings have been incredibly successful. “‘No Vacancy’ – which we put out back in April – could’ve easily gone to radio…The song is now closing in on 100 million streams and it’s something we have done zero work behind,” Ryan said. However, he isn’t ruling out potential single releases altogether. “This doesn’t mean we won’t release singles in the future, but not always. We will but as and when.”
Another of the band’s successful releases is ‘Rich Love’, a collaboration with Seeb which has garnered over 21 million streams on Spotify to date. Written with Ryan’s bandmate Brent Kutzle, the song was originally a vocal/guitar track before Seeb worked their magic. “He [Brent] had this guitar riff that he gave me back around Christmas and I wrote over it. Really, it was just vocals and guitars and then the guys from Seeb were in LA visiting and they came by my studio and said, “If you guys have anything that’s just guitars and vocals that you don’t know what to do with, send it us and let us mess with it” – which is the same thing they did with ‘I Took A Pill In Ibiza’.”
Ryan also spoke about OneRepublic’s sound in general. Whilst ‘Rich Love’ has been a viral hit, he said that it doesn’t really represent the band’s sound. “Even though I wrote it on electric guitar, it’s been turned into more of a dance record. I’ve returned to writing everything on acoustic guitar or piano so I have a feeling that the next thing we do is going to be rooted in a very organic way and would be a lot more soulful,” he said.
“The last thing we did was way more experimental and we had fun with but I’m returning more to my roots, I guess. I’m singing stuff, focusing on the lyrics and melody above and beyond anything. My focus right now is keeping things simple: heartfelt lyrics, good melody, and writing about something that people actually feel and connect with emotionally.”
OneRepublic are renowned for delivering songs that have the ability to move people, however, with the current climate as it is, Ryan feels that it’s more important than ever to address real life issues in music. In June, OneRepublic released ‘Truth To Power’ for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power. The track carries an important message – we must stand up and make a change for the good of our planet. Shedding light on social problems through music is something that Ryan is keen to do and urges other artists to do the same.
“I’m doing my best to address issues that people are thinking about; issues that are real. People’s obsession with staring at their phones and living their lives through other people’s Instagram pages and feeling depressed about how shitty their life is because they don’t have the same figure or the same money – that’s an issue and it’s one that more people should be writing about,” he said.
“Artists should be writing about Donald Trump. Artists should be writing about the fact that we’ve got missiles aimed at each other over the Korean peninsula. I’m not saying that everything has to be political. [Recently] I was going back and listening to a lot of stuff from the ‘60s and the ‘70s: The Beatles, The Stones, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell… They were all writing about things that were actually taking place in the universe, the real world, and that’s what some of their biggest hits are about. Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth, for example,” Ryan continued. “The thing that makes me sad right now is that I don’t feel like anybody’s saying anything about what it’s actually happening in the world, with the exception of maybe Arcade Fire’s new album.”
Whilst Ryan has been busy writing material for OneRepublic, the prolific songwriter continues to share his talent elsewhere too, and, in the process, has been working with a host of incredible artists recently, from Camila Cabello to U2, Jessie Ware to The Killers. However, one of his career highlights was when he had the opportunity to work with Sir Paul McCartney. “I’m really excited about the Paul McCartney stuff. Beyond happy, it’s probably my favourite session ever. I’d go as far as saying my favourite week in my life was working with Paul McCartney.”
Ryan Tedder’s full interview is available to read here.