Ryan Tedder (left) of One Republic and Sebastian Ingrosso of Swedish House Mafia performed their song "Calling" at Coachella on Saturday night. (Photo: Catie Laffoon)
Songwriter Ryan Tedder of One Republic has written songs for the likes of Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, Hilary Duff, Far East Movement and others. Biz caught up with him and Swedish House Mafia's Sebastian Ingrosso at Coachella before their set to talk about their collaborative single "Calling," which was the EDM anthem at this year's Miami Music Week, and also got the scoop on songwriting in airplane bathrooms and more.
Billboard.biz: How was your Coachella set last night with Swedish House Mafia?
Sebastian Ingrosso: It was cool. It was great.
Did it rain on everybody?
Yeah yeah yeah.
Congrats on the success of "Calling." Did you think it would do as well as it did?
Yeah [Laughs]. I mean we have Ryan on the track. It must!
Ryan Tedder: It must.
I heard the kids in Miami were loving it and it became the music fest's anthem down there.
SI: Oh yeah!
How did the song originate.
RT: It originated with Sebastian. We had a guy at our record label who connected us. Two years ago he started talking to me about Swedish House Mafia and Sebastian specifically and then to be honest how it happened, I heard there was an instrumental that they wanted me on and I was moving a million miles an hour doing One Republic and other stuff and what finally got me to say, "OK we have to do this now" - I was in a club at an after party for something and the DJ was playing all this music and then "Calling" came on and it was like someone poured kerosene on the room and lit a match. It was crazy! I was with my wife and I turned around and was like, "This is the song they want me to sing on" so that moment I emailed my manager and I was like you tell them next week. They had a melody and I used some of the lyrics they already had written and I changed it to "Lose My Mind" in the concept.
SI: Yeah and it's good!
And Sebastian, you were probably excited because Ryan can't be an easy person to nail down.
RT: Well we're both so busy at this point. I mean every time I email him, he's in Brazil or Thailand.
How long did it take you to put everything together?
SI: We met for 45 minutes and it was like "Go Go Go rearrange" and then Ryan went back to Denver and recorded.
Ryan: I actually recorded it in DC.
RT: We were going to the White House and doing the Christmas tree lighting and all that and I booked a studio in DC and that morning recorded it there and then fired it off. I think he was back in Sweden or something I forget - or maybe LA. You know, the modern way of recording records. You're in one country and he's in another. As long as it sounds good.
Do you guys plan to collaborate on anything together in the future?
SI: I hope so.
RT: I'd love to. 100%.
Have you talked about anything yet?
RT: Not yet. No. I'm working on One Republic right now and then who knows? I have to climb on his back to get some Swedish One Republic. I mean I'm all for it. Swedish Republic.
From left: Laura Hess, Marketing Directior, Interscope; Ryan Tedder; Sebastian Ingrosso; Stephan Markovits, Label Manager, Refune Records (Sebastian Ingrosso's label). (Photo: Catie Laffoon)
So are you both working on new material then? Swedish House Mafia and One Republic?
SI: Yes. All the time.
RT: Yes, full time now
So you guys can actually write on the road. That's rare. Most people say they can't do it.
SI: I mean we work kind of the opposite. Other bands work in the studio then tour. We tour and work at the same time.
RT: I do the same thing. I bring a mobile studio with me everywhere and work in hotel rooms and tour buses and wherever.
SI: It's crazy.
RT: The artists that I see - and you know I work with a ton of different people - and the ones that I see that have the longest career and the most consistent have tackled that hurdle and figured out that you don't have to have a certain candle and a certain lighting to be inspired. If you're in a hotel room in Albania you can still write something.
Do you guys wait until you feel inspired or do you sit down and set aside time to write?
Sebastian: You can tickle your inspiration I think.
SI: You can tickle it back and forth like, "Hmm what happens if I do this or that?" You can tickle it and start. I think what he says, you don't need the lights and the candles and I usually get creative half an hour before I go to bed. That's when I start to.
(Photo: Catie Laffoon)
Have you ever done the writing with the lights and candles?
RT: Back in the day, I've done that - way back in the day when I was like 20 and I thought you had to create some sort of writing mood but now most of my ideas and concepts come on airplanes. So I go into the bathroom and record into my phone. I could play you 10 ideas right now. What I think could be One Republic's first single came to me on a flight - I don't know where I was flying - and I was singing it in my head and I went in the bathroom and I sang the melody into my iPhone and then you hear the "Attention. We are descending." I do it all the time - airplanes, cars. If I sit down and say, "OK be creative" it doesn't work like that
I love traveling - walking through the French Quarter of New Orleans or walking through wherever - Hong Kong, I listen to people, listen to the rhythm, pay attention to the movement of the people and tap into that.
Who have you guys been checking out while you've been at Coachella?
SI: I've seen Alesso obviously and that's it. I saw some of Black Keys. It was good. That was it I think.
RT: I saw Black Keys and I saw them - Swedish last night.
Are you going to try to see anyone else while you are here?
SI: Yeah I'm going to see some of Martin Solveig's set I think because he's playing before us.
RT: I'm going to see Radiohead tonight. I'd love to catch Kasabian and Noel Gallagher. I've never seen Oasis so he's the next best thing I can see.
So you guys are performing "The Calling" tonight, I'm assuming. Do you have anything else special planned for the performance?
SI: We're just gonna rage.
RT: I'm going to do a back flip.
SI: Do we have insurance for that?
RT: Let's check.