SXSW: Wallpaper.’s Ricky Reed Talks Pop Music, Stage-Diving
Ricky Reed, the mastermind behind San Francisco’s Wallpaper., is not your usual pop artist. The musician’s fast-talk raps and bombastic beats may sound like your average radio fare, but Reed is a little too smart to feed his fans the same old tunes. We sat down with Reed, who recently inked a deal with Epic, in Austin to discuss playing SXSW, pop music and what’s up next.
How has your SXSW been?
My SXSW has been fantastic. I’ve done it a couple times but every year you can either feel the progress or, perhaps for some bands, the regress, of what you’re doing. You can just sort of sense it between what shows you’re playing, how the people at the shows are reacting, how people treat you on the street. It’s like a barometer in the ether that is so thick you could cut it with a knife. And this year has been fucking unbelievable. I mean, I think it’s the first time that I stage-dived at SXSW. At our 3:00 a.m. party at the Pure Volume House.
The crowd caught you?
They caught me. You only stage dive when you’re, I would say, 65 percent sure that they’re there for you.
It seems like your music is pretty perfect for the party sensibility of SXSW.
Definitely. You have the high intensity and you have the aspect of fun. But another thing that’s a really important aspect of Wallpaper is this punk and DIY ethic. Here you get punk bands and rockabilly hootenannies, setting up on street corners, which is fine. And then you have prissy, larger than life pop acts. You have the invasion of the top 40 universe at SXSW, things we never had before.Something you don’t get a lot of is groups like us that are about having fun and having a good time that are also really punk and aren’t afraid to get sweaty and mix it up in the crowd and jump off the stage and drink with people after the show and dig in, you know?
So how will you mediate being that DIY punk musician and now being signed to a major label that probably wants you to make top 40 music?
That’s a great question. Obviously there are those physical constraints and limitations to what you can do Like Rihanna couldn’t be like, “Let’s go get pizza” [to her fans] because it’d be a mob scene, you know? I have no delusions about that. However, the sort of message that I convey with the records and the style on my media and stuff is that people are going to know that they shouldn’t feel bad about having a 9 to 5 and the fact that they have to go to a dive bar instead of VIP. But it’s also not necessarily celebrating redneck or white trash existence. It’s just the real everyday sort of American experience, you know? No one makes pop records about what actually happens for most people.
Are you working on new music right now?
Yeah, I am. Well, it’s that kind of thing when you have your single out and if it jumps, it could be “We need your record last week.” But luckily I’ve been crafting new songs for the last few months and feel really good about the batch I have. But I’m always working. I’m writing on the road, recording on the road. Actually, here in Austin I have a mobile set up in the kitchen in the house we’re staying at.
Are your songs meant to be taken seriously or as parody, or are they somewhere in between?
I leave that for people to suss out themselves… It could mean exactly what it sounds like or the exact opposite. Your guess.
Have you been writing for other people as well?
Yeah, I do some of them. I co-wrote a Cee Lo U.K. single with Rivers [Cuomo] from Weezer. Which was a crazy amazing experience. I had a few of those kind of things under my belt but since everything’s really picked up in the last few months, I’ve had to focus on my shit first because it’s the time, you know? It’s my time for it.
For more from Wallpaper check out their Myspace Radio channel here.
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