Ryan Tedder is a singer, songwriter, music producer, and frontman of the group OneRepublic.
The 40-year-old musician answered some rapid-fire questions for Insider about the artists he’d love to work with, the launch of his hemp-infused sparkling water brand called Mad Tasty, what fans can expect from OneRepublic’s upcoming album (set for release on May 8), and more.
1. Who was your first concert?
The Beach Boys.
2. What’s a song that makes you cry?
“Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls.
3. A book you think everyone should read?
“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens.
4. What was the moment you knew you made it?
I have two moments! One would be the moment when I was out of college debt and thought I could make it as a songwriter before OneRepublic took off, probably 2006. We’d been dropped as a band by Columbia but all of a sudden, movie directors were calling me left and right, multiple times a week, to do songs for film.
I was also getting calls to write songs for artists and offers from labels for songwriting deals so I thought – I can actually get married, have a life, pay for my family and my life writing songs so I’ve made it.
Then about 12 to 18 months later, “Apologize” hit No. 1 around the world and “Bleeding Love” also hit No. 1 before and after it and I was like, “OK, this feels like icing on the cake and it may never happen again,” but truthfully, just making a living as a songwriter and a musician is all caps — MAKING IT!
5. What’s the last show you binged?
“Homeland” season eight and “Tiger King,” of course!
6. What’s your favorite weird food combination?
Kimchi fried rice and maple syrup.
7. How did you spend your first big Hollywood paycheck?
I bought a car that could park anywhere in Los Angeles. Super small and super fast!
8. Who is the last person who gave you a really good piece of advice and what was it?
I had lunch with [CEO of Universal Music Group] Lucian Grainge recently and he said, “Be careful you don’t become the man who knew too much.”
I have a problem with collecting lots of data in my head and analyzing it and processing it. I’m one of those weird people that is both left-brained and right-brained in equal portion. That’s a hard place to be because the right brain almost needs to abandon the left brain to be highly functioning and creative, but my left brain is always there running apps in the background.
9. If you had to be on a reality TV show which one would you be in?
Anthony Bourdain’s show. RIP Anthony.
10. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Teleportation. It would get rid of jet lag all together — just get there and get home.
11. Dream collaborator or person you wish to work with? Who do you admire most in your field?
There’s a handful I’m dying to work with — top of mind, Florence and the Machine, Calvin Harris, Rihanna.
12. What is a career moment you’re most proud of?
Working with U2 and opening to them as a band was probably up there in my top three. Winning my first Grammy with Adele for the album “21,” but the one I’m most proud of is helping be a part as a writer and producer of Paul McCartney’s most recent album, which was his first No. 1 album in 36 years. Working with Paul, who still blows me away, is the thing I’m most proud of and I still pinch myself that I’m that lucky.
13. Who’s one artist or song that’s always on your playlists?
Vampire Weekend — at all times!
14. Best birthday present you’ve ever received?
Sleeping in and coffee in bed with my wife.
15. What’s one thing you’ll never travel without?
Multiple chargers with adapters.
16. What song from another artist do you wish you had written?
“Yesterday” by the Beatles.
17. How did you come up with the idea to create Mad Tasty?
I had the idea to start a beverage with an ex-athlete friend of mine over a couple of years ago and it just kind of swirled out of my brain for a while.
In 2017, I was coming out of a place of extreme anxiety and almost had a nervous breakdown. I was having panic attacks, heart palpitations, and was absolutely at my wit’s end with too much travel and too much work. Shortly after this time, I ended up on medication that I didn’t want to take for anxiety. This coincided with me discovering CBD and its anti-anxiety properties.
I’ve always avoided THC or anything marijuana-related because it wasn’t for me, but these guys that I went to high school with, the Stanley Brothers, happened to start a company called Charlotte’s Web, which is now the market-cap leader in the CBD space and easily the most recognizable brand. They educated me on CBD, and the only learning curve I had was the taste profile. Pretty much everything in the market tasted nasty, like olive oil, and you had to mix it with stuff.
I wanted the benefits of CBD, but I absolutely hated doing the droppers daily, and I had tried one other beverage that was a fruit-based non-carbonated drink with caffeine that was the only beverage that I liked in the space.
I thought, “Well, this is interesting, if I can make it taste good,” and I wanted to drink more water, specifically, so I focused on sparkling water, which I knew my wife loved and that I loved.
I happened to invest in a company at that time called Sorse, out of Seattle, that had just hired one of the foremost beverage formulators, a complete rock star that had been leading product development for a decade at Starbucks inventing drinks like the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
All those things culminated at the end of 2018 and I had a weird brief window of time where I wasn’t doing that much music, which never happens, and before I knew it, I had a beverage company along with some friends from Interscope to take on the marketing component. The rest is history.
18. How does Mad Tasty factor into your typical health and wellbeing routine?
I drink four a day. It’s very simple, it tastes better than any of the other drinks in the space. Its flavor profile is unmatched. It has between four and 15 calories, so the calories are negligible. The CBD is top shelf, and tested, and retested, throughout every production run.
It is simply the highest quality CBD beverage in the marketplace. I probably end up drinking an additional 40 to 60 ounces of water a day, plus 80 to 100 milligrams of CBD a day (which is the daily recommended dose from most companies).
19. What’s the key to a delicious drink?
Being an unrelenting flavor nerd and being brutally honest with yourself. Do multiple taste tests with all of your friends and family, and quite simply, hiring the best — which I know we did with Mad Tasty.
20. You just participated in “Together at Home: WHO-Global Citizen Solidarity Sessions.” Why did you choose to be part of this livestream series?
We were already doing this, maybe four, five days before the whole world caught on to the whole livestreaming thing. We just did it instinctively. We were all sheltered together in the same studio, we had internet, we had access, we wanted to do free music for people, so probably 20 days ago we began doing concerts from my studio and started being asked to do them. It was a no-brainer for us.
It was about pulling people together and creating unity and solidarity, which we desperately need right now.
21. How has the livestream contributed to your efforts to practice social distancing?
It has given me a way to connect without being in front of people, without physically interacting with people, and without being subject to germs. It’s been a watershed of creativity for us, and critical to keeping our sanity.
22. What can fans expect when OneRepublic’s “Human” is released, and how will it compare to the group’s previously released albums?
It’s an extremely emotive and cathartic album. It’s so weird, only two or three of the songs were written during the pandemic, but the whole album feels like a letter to humans going through something.
Without sounding hyperbolic or exaggerated, it truly feels like it was inspired by some super intense series of events in a human life, which we are going through right now. They can expect it to be cathartic, and they can expect it to sound like OneRepublic.
This is the most OneRepublic album that we have ever made. I don’t even know what this band has sounded like, but this is the most ‘us’ sounding album we have ever made.