Chances are you don’t know the name Ricky Reed, and that’s perfectly okay. As a songwriter and producer, he’s worked on hit singles and album tracks for some of the most popular musicians on the planet, such as Christina Aguilera, Jason Derulo, Twenty One Pilots, Meghan Trainor, Halsey, and Kesha, though the people behind the scenes don’t often get the recognition they deserve. As an artist, he goes by the name Wallpaper. (or at least he did when he started that project many years ago), and while that group developed a loyal fan base, they never scored a serious hit...though now that he’s in a very different point in his life and he knows how to craft a proper smash, the next time he comes out with music, things could go better for him.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Reed about the songs he’s penned for others, who he’d want to work with next, and what he felt should have been a smash.
In the past several years, you've scored hit after hit after hit, and the list of artists you’ve worked with is pretty crazy. Is there anything in particular that you are really proud of?
Ricky Reed: Boy. We're in the middle of it right now, but I would probably say Lizzo. Because she is an artist that I started working with very, very early on in her career. She signed to my label Nice Life, and it's been a holistic top-to-bottom process of grinding it out with her for whatever it's been now, about four years or so.
It's the whole thing people say, with different albums you work on, different songs you work on, they're all my babies, and I've obviously had great experiences across the board all with different musicians. There's just been so much sweat and tears with Lizzo that, to see her finally arriving at the international table right now is just... It's funny, it's full circle. It's the first thing that's been surreal, as surreal as my first hit, which we talked about a long time ago. Nothing has felt as unreal, like I'm in a parallel universe, quite like that did until now with Lizzo.
Lizzo deserves the entire world. This is what I tell people. Just put Lizzo in charge of the world, honestly. This might be kind of the same question, but is there something you worked on that didn't get the attention that you feel it deserved?
Reed: Interesting question. Felt deserved, but didn't get there. I guess I can only speak to a couple of my favorite songs that I've written that didn't. These weren't songs that they tried to make big 'ole hits and spent millions and millions of dollars on. Just songs of mine that I was like, "Man I'm so proud of that, and I wish more people would have heard it."
Oddly, one is a Christina Aguilera song, a ballad that I wrote.
We love that song.
Reed: You know what song I'm talking about?
It's the last song on the track list of her most recent album, and it's...I can't name it...but it was my standout from the album.
Reed: Yeah. That's maybe the song I'm proudest of. Also, I wrote that song with her right around when I was getting married myself. We actually had some friends of mine perform it at my own wedding. I'm just very attached to it. I feel like songs that have that timeless feeling will always keep their moment. I don't have any ill feelings about it. I know that song will still find its place.
What do you have coming up in terms of songwriting and/or production that we may be hearing soon?
Reed: The only one that you really need to know about now is called The Wrong Man. It's a concept album written and performed by my friend, songwriter Ross Golan in the show called “And the Writer Is...", a podcast. He wrote a concept album about a man being wrongly framed, and charged with murder.
I produced the album, but an off-Broadway show directed by Tommy Kale, the director of Hamilton and the music director Alex Lacamoire also from Hamilton. The off-Broadway show is premiering this fall, and an animated film premiered just this weekend at Tribeca Film Festival. That is one of the craziest pieces of music I've ever been remotely close to. It took a couple years to make as a labor of love. I think it's going to be something really special.
Amazing. I've been following your career since Wallpaper. I still play "#STUPiDFACEDD" and still play "Fucking Best Song Everrr" all the time.
Reed: That's awesome.
Gym playlist for sure. Do you have any interest in going that artist route again?
Reed: Oh yeah. I have had a pretty eventful last couple of years, personally. Me and my wife got married three years ago. We had our first kid one year ago. We had twins two weeks ago.
Oh my god, congrats!
Reed: Thank you. I've experienced a lot of life in the last handful of years. I'm still processing it, but have a lot of music that I need to get out into the world. It's starting to fill up on hard drives. I would say not even just one project for me as an artist, but potentially two or even three in the next year.
Oh wow. Amazing.
Reed: I'm coming.
Is there anybody left that you haven't worked with that you would love to write a song for or produce for?
Reed: Man. I mean, there's some of the icons of course, like Beyoncé and Adele. There's a lot of up-and-coming artists that I love, and would love to work with. I feel like I need to pull out my phone. I've been following a lot of really amazing new bands.
Let me see here. There's an artist named Westerman. If you haven't heard him, you should check him out. I would love to work with him. There's one artist I really wanted to work with, and I ended up signing him. We're actually putting out his music as we speak. A young new artist named John Robert. He was one that I was wanted to...and then just ended up signing him. Sometimes that's what you’ve got to do.
The truth at this point, I'm just trying to get around to finishing all my projects with my homies. Teddy Geiger, Harris Martin, Nate Mercereau. There's a lot of things that are just trying to get wrapped up so the world can hear them.
At this point, I imagine the offers come to you. How do you decide what you'll take on, what you don't have time for, how do you chose?
Reed: It's pretty straight forward, honestly. It's if I get the feeling in my gut or not. I will say that, I enjoy meeting people so much, and I'm just a lover of people of all kinds. I told my manager, I was like, "Dude you gotta stop telling me, 'Just meet them, just have a coffee,' because every time it happens I agree to do people's albums!” I don't have enough time to do an album for everybody I meet for a coffee.
Frankly, that's my problem. I love meeting new people. I love working with new people. As it is right now, I have three children to raise, and a label to run, and so I'm trying to be a little more selective and make my life not completely insane.
Which I imagine it is, but I get that.
Reed: A little bit.
Photo Credit: Ricky Reed