Ryan Tedder Talks OneRepublic And Why He’s Leaning Into TV And Movies

OneRepublic has sold approximately over 10 million records worldwide – and a new album, the band’s fifth, is due to drop this year.

Ahead of that, they’re among a handful of artists and bands and artists featured in the Netflix music documentary series Once in a Lifetime SessionsOnce in a Lifetime Sessions Season One, Part Two includes hour-long episodes featuring never-before-seen in-depth interviews and intimate performances, as the subjects record new hits and old favorites.

I caught up with the band’s Grammy award-winning lead singer and songwriter, Ryan Tedder, to talk about the documentary, his burn out and the slew of TV and film projects he’s developing.

Simon Thompson: Did you need much persuading to do this?

Ryan Tedder: I did need some persuading; I had to be talked into it. We were not launching the first single off a new album, and we’re going to do an album, if not two albums in 2019, so for me where this landed time-wise, it didn’t make any sense to me in terms of the calendar. I got weary because what are we promoting? You know that in the music business if you go on camera, it’s because you’re finished promoting something. Not that I don’t love Netflix, I didn’t know what we were doing. When I sat down and watched some clips from one of the other episodes it was done so well that I didn’t care what we were promoting, we should do it.
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Ryan Tedder Talks New OneRepublic Music: ‘This Is the Stuff I’m Most Excited About in Years’

As OneRepublic​’s episode of “Once In a Lifetime Sessions” streams on Netflix, Ryan Tedder is busy readying the group’s next musical statement — a new album for release during 2019.

“I might be one of the only people this week still in the studio, ’cause I have to wrap vocals on a bunch of stuff,” Tedder tells Billboard. He reports that the group has a tentative title (which he’s not revealing) for its fifth studio album, the follow-up to 2016’s Oh My My, and is planning out the artwork for it as well. “This is stuff I’m the most excited about in years,” he reports — and it has been years, at least a couple, since Tedder has been this engaged in music-making, period.

The prolific singer, songwriter and producer acknowledges that he hit “maximum burnout” by the end of 2016, after “ten years of nonstop touring and nonstop promotion — just nonstop, never saying no to anything. We were, like, the band that said ‘yes.’ That’s’ why everybody loved us.” The work load — including Tedder’s numerous collaborations with other artists — took its toll, and Tedder decided to step back for “a lot of soul-searching during the past two years.”

“I had this crisis of conscience,” he says, “where I was like, ‘Why are we making records? Why do people need to hear me talk about my life anymore? What is there to say?’ I don’t want to write songs just to write songs, especially not for [OneRepublic]. So I had to live life for the last two years to gather enough experiences — frankly, doing things that had nothing to do with OneRepublic or trying to write hit records for people — so I’m not just putting out music.”

During that time Tedder did some collaborating — with Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes, Jessie Ware, Paul McCartney and other major artists, most recently the Backstreet Boys on the new single “Chances” (originally written for Mendes). He also worked in commercial real estate and developed a couple of television shows, including one with Simon Fuller that’s slated to premiere during 2019.

“I think that was the best thing I could’ve done, because it reinvigorated me,” Tedder, who has a number of other artist collaborations in the works as well, says about dialing back. “Here I am back making records for people I love, and I have a bunch of singles coming out. I feel like I have a third or fourth wind in me and am excited about doing music and feel like I actually have something to say. But it took stepping away from it and letting all the dust settle from the last two years of streaming taking over the planet and tilting the axis of music.”

A timetable is currently being worked out for the OneRepublic album. In the meantime Tedder is happy to have the Netflix show, part of “Once In a Lifetime Sessions'” second season, as a placeholder until the new music starts rolling out.

“It’s awesome,” Tedder says. “We were all beyond impressed with the level of production and the quality, from the interviews to the actual concert itself. We’ve done so many TV things in the last 11 years that you get a real temperature for people who know what they’re doing or are just hacking it and throwing it together. This one felt pretty amazing. There’s a lot of thought and a lot of effort put into it, and we were all happy with the experience.”

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Once In a Lifetime Sessions with OneRepublic

New episodes of Once In A Lifetime Sessions are coming to Netflix on Dec. 15. This session sees the band performing live in the iconic Ace Theater Los Angeles, delighting fans with an energetic, mesmerizing performance featuring their biggest hits, Stop & Stare, Love Runs Out, Good Life, If I Lose Myself, Wherever I Go, I Lived and Counting Stars.

In the vinyl studio session, filmed at The Village Recorder in Los Angeles, OneRepublic are accompanied by a string quartet, laying down stripped back covers of Secrets, Connection, Apologise, Counting Stars and yet to be released track Wanted. Singer/songwriter Ryan Tedder delivers an insightful masterclass in which he discusses creating the ‘cosmic soup’ that is his sound, finding inspiration in his surroundings, and collaborating with legendary artists like Sir Paul McCartney and Beyoncé. This unique session offers an up-close look at the band behind the music, giving fans a truly once in a lifetime viewing experience.

In an exclusive preview Ryan Tedder talks about writing the band’s first-ever single “Apologize.” He reveals that he was in Colorado listening to a bunch of “moody British music” when he started to come up with the song, which was released in 2006. He sat down to play the piano and iron the notes and lyrics out.

The first two lines of “Apologize” just came to Ryan, and he can’t even explain how it happened. “I honestly think it’s a gift from God. I’ve never been able to explain it,” he says in the video. That gift turned into a massive hit. Not only did it reach the top of the music charts, the song also earned OneRepublic a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

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