VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – JUNE 11: Ryan Tedder of pop band OneRepublic performs onstage during … [+]
How to describe the Bored Brothers, the distinctly 2022 collaboration between OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder and electronic superstar Kygo? The short answer is it is a Metaverse band of their bored apes. But what excites Tedder so much about it during our conversation is the freedom a project like this affords him.
For Tedder, who has both a day job and night job as the singer for OneRepublic and one of the most in-demand songwriters in music, he views the Bored Brothers as a project he and Kygo can executive produce and curate.
This means being able to bring friends and guest artists onboard and make the Bored Brothers an ever-evolving project. After releasing their first single, “DRIP,” in April the “duo” are back with a second track.
I spoke with Tedder, who explained at length the impetus for the project, what comes next for the Bored Brothers, working with Ozzy Osbourne as a songwriter and much more.
Steve Baltin: How’s your voice doing? I know we had to cancel earlier this week because you were on rest.
Ryan Tedder: Yeah, I was on vocal rest in Prague. I’ve only lost my voice, this would be the third time in 15 years. But we did six shows in seven days and then we played Hamburg, Germany and it was epic and I felt fine. I went to bed on the bus and I think I fell asleep under a vent, it was blowing down my throat the whole night and it destroyed my sinuses and my throat and gave me sinusitis. Sinusitis is like the curse of singers, if you get it you’re gonna be out of commission.So I lost my voice completely. We cancelled four dates, which we’ll make up later in the fall. But back at it. Tonight we’re playing Budapest arena. I’m actually in a tattoo parlor right now so if you hear the buzzing that’s the tattoo artist.
Baltin: How many do you have now?
Tedder: Oh dude, I have no clue. I kind of only do it when I’m traveling. I actually don’t have any from LA, which is where I live funny enough.
Baltin: That’s so funny to me because I’m one of those people who is monogamous to my tattoo artist for years. I will not go to anyone other than Mark Mahoney.
Tedder: One of my songwriters is like. For me, it’s more where I’m at, signifier of a certain place or time and something that is meaningful but also part of an overall sleeve. What’s cool is I can kind of point to each one and say, “Oh yeah, this was Paris, this one was Dresden, this one was Tokyo, this is Osaka.” And I have like a memory of everything.
Baltin: We’re actually talking today about the Bored Brothers, so it’s interesting that you’re on tour with OneRepublic and in fact they are testing out the new song for Top Gun. How much fun is it for you to be able to move between these different worlds and do these types of different projects? I feel like that’s kind of the best of both worlds for artists.
Tedder: It is, yeah. This is our first arena tour in Europe in seven years. We’ve toured off and on in Asia and different places but we took a big chunk of time off. And OneRepublic is like the mother ship. But, for me, I’ve been writing songs for every genre of artists for 15 years. Like in the last year everything from upcoming Tiesto singles to Ozzy Osbourne to Maneskin and whatever like fill in the blank pop act, Ava Max. So I’ve been, I would say genre agnostic since the day I got into music. And I’ve been working on tracks on tour for Baby Keem and Lil’ Baby, I’m like literally going back into my hip-hop days and just making beats right now.
Baltin: What is Bored Brothers?
Tedder: For me, Bored Brothers being able to executive produce something and oversee the music, curate it but not be the artist is a dream. Everything’s animated, Kygo and I aren’t performing these, these are songs that we’ve either co-written or produced or have literally curated from our publishers our friends, the songwriting community you name it. And then I’m approaching this the same way I’m approaching John Legend’s upcoming album. I EP’d his upcoming album, which is a double album. Two different completely genres and time periods and to me I’m approaching it with the same kind of focus and control over everything, which is best songs win. But for Bored Brothers, since I’m not the artist I don’t have to worry about touring it, I don’t have to worry about any of the other things but even getting features we just got Shenseea just jumped on it. She jumped on the lead single and Yung Bleu jumped on it two weeks ago. I spent an hour with the animators in South Africa when we were in Poland the other day going over the final edit for the video, we have add dates of radio ,we have drop dates for DSPs and streaming, we have this second, third and fourth single, we have a car commercial that wants to use one of our upcoming singles for a whole licensing campaign. So I would say the best way for me to frame this is I’m approaching this like I’m the VP of A&R, of a label who happened to who happened to sign an animated group and actually one of my friends, David Walter at Republic signed the Gorillaz so he and I have had a lot of conversations about this space. What Bored Ape has done, what BAYC has done, they went ahead of me and built a $10 billion ecosystem that’s culturally ubiquitous. And all I did was take the IP that I already owned, look at the space and go, “Wait, this is way bigger than just collectables.” I’m not trying to sit around on digital sports cards or trading cards, that’s fun, but that’s not the utility that I see. I think a lot, or the majority, of the people that have bought into the NFT space or that are interested in it, to them it’s a buy-and-hold asset class. And there’s a lot of hype surrounding this stuff. I get all that, right. But for me, the moment I got mine, I started thinking, “Okay, what are the real world applications where I can take what I already do, which is music, and apply it to this IP that these brilliant creators have turned into these cultural juggernauts?” Like, “How can I jump on that wave like a surfer and stay on it?” And so I pitched it to Kygo back in November. Ironically, I was in Budapest, which is where I am now, where I was presenting at the EMAs and performing, and in the hotel room, the idea hit me and I called him and I was like, “Yo, I have a crazy idea. What if we pair our apes, sign them to like an LLC, and EP a digital project?” And he said, “Let me think about that for a second.” He was like, “I’m in.” It was a really quick conversation. And the most important thing is that it didn’t sound like him, like his music or my music. Sonically, I think the identity is between global dance records, like global dance music but with American-like hip hop sensibility. So we can have rappers feature on dance records, that’s basically where this sonically lives. So we have a lot of records in that space, yeah. And the craziest part is getting like kind of A-level songwriters and another artist to jump on and feature, has been so much easier than I possibly anticipated. Even dealing with the major labels. They’re like, “No, we love this space.” We haven’t had any issues. It’s just like EP-ing anything else, except this one is way more fun because it’s animated. 1186
Baltin: You mention Gorillaz, who obviously were animated. And I just saw a story this morning saying that George Harrison loved the Traveling Wilburys because he didn’t have to be the front person. And that extends to the animated world as well. Do you feel like there’s less pressure because it’s not physically you and you’re able to just be a character and have fun with it?
Tedder: It’s a lot less pressure. Four years ago, I was in a session with Diplo, with Wes, and working on something or other. And he looked at me and he goes, “Dude, how many songs have you written for other people?” And I was like, “I don’t even know, 500. I have lost count.” He’s like, “You’re stupid.” I was like, “What do you mean?” He’s like, “Dude, you should just do what I do.” I was like, “What do you mean?” He’s like, “Bro,” he’s like, “I can’t even sing and I’m in five actual, legitimate, artist projects.” And he’s like, “And somehow I win Grammys.” [Chuckle] Wes And I are good friends, and I just died laughing. And it stuck with me. And then I had other executives from other labels say the same thing. They’re like, “We get that you’re loyal to OneRepublic. You’ve built the touring band base, congrats. You can keep that going as long as you want.” And we do, and I love the OneRepublic band base. There’s a certain expectation with what my band is, and for better or worse, and hopefully mostly for better,I think it’s impacted a lot of people’s lives. It’s been huge in my life and I love what we’ve created. That said, the sandbox, so to speak, that you create when you’re an artist is real, and there is only so far you can venture outside of that sandbox as yourself, before you hit a dead end or you just go too far, you hit the wall and your fans don’t follow you. So for me, something like this where I licensed the IP to the record label and we’re EP-ing it, but like, I don’t have to perform it. I’m not going around singing it. I have a guy that’s been one of the main co-writers, who right now is remaining anonymous. He’s had a couple huge monster hits as a writer and an artist, and he’s singing on a lot of the stuff but getting features on this has been shockingly easy, because all the new savvy artists are hip to web3 and NFT space, and especially Bored Ape Yacht Club being kind of the blue chip of that space. And they want to participate, they want to do something like this. I’m just super excited about this space, I have no clue where it’s gonna go. And the cool thing is because my expectations aren’t the moon, wherever it goes… like us selling out in five minutes, our first NFT launch, that blew my mind. I was on tour in Edinburgh and we were doing real time on Discord or whatever, and like, boom, it’s sold out. But the thing that I’m trying to do that I would say is different, that Kygo and I are trying to do, we want the Bored Brothers to extend well beyond the NFT space and the crypto space. As much as I love that community we’re not trying to just grab bag. This isn’t a money grab, an NFT drop money grab. I want this on playlists on Spotify and Apple, on iHeart, on the radio, on Cumulus, on NRG, on Capital in the UK. That’s where I want to take this. And I think it’s completely doable, 100 percent
Baltin: Why do you think the response has been so great?
Tedder: I would say 95 percent of the celebrities or recorded music industry people that participate actively in the web 3 space or NFT space are a much more niche cultural group of people that are agro about crypto NFTs, all this other stuff. Me being a pop head and just being the face of the band and being much more of a profiled, like mass consumption. I write pop records. I do stuff with Ozzy Osbourne and U2 and I’m lucky enough that I get to work with some really cool, incredible artists. But like at the end of the day, I make pop stuff, so does Kygo. And I think that is potentially one of the delineating factors, is that he and I aren’t super niche crypto guys.
Baltin: As an Ozzy fan who’s interviewed him a million times, I’m very excited to hear what you’re doing with him because I love that guy.
Tedder: Yeah. Dude, he’s in my top three all-time favorite sessions of all time, easily. People say, “Oh, I pissed my pants,” laughing. I think I actually pissed my pants laughing. He’s one of the funniest human beings ever. I just heard the master of the song that we did about two weeks ago. And I had an emotional moment. It’s a session I’ll never forget as long as I live. I worked with him. I obviously could see the neck injury in real time in the studio, but he just doesn’t stop. I mean, the song took two days. It probably could have been done in one, but his anecdotes and jokes do not stop. It’s like if he wanted legitimately to do a Netflix comedy special, he could pull it off, and it would be an absolute slam dunk because he’s that f**king hilarious.
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – JUNE 11: Ryan Tedder of pop band OneRepublic performs onstage during … [+]