When one of your biggest hit records talks about “taking a bottle to the head” – it’s natural to assume that your band is accustomed to partaking in alcoholic beverages before, after… heck, even during performances. But Lil Wayne’s “I Am Still Music” tour isn’t your typical hip hop show. Due to Wayne’s probation, no alcohol is allowed backstage.
The fellas from Far East Movement are finding ways to get by.
“We just drive far away, make sure we’re far away from the tour, and do what we gotta do,” said emcee and group spokesman-by-committee Kev Nish. “The atmosphere (on tour) has been real positive. All the artists bring it like crazy… I mean, you can’t even tell the difference.”
Kev, real name Kevin Nishimura, initially didn’t understand where I was going with my inquiry on the group’s drinking habits while on tour. Once he realized, he backtracked a little from the “before, after, during” talk.
“I was just kidding,” Nish joked. “Water is… the natural life choice drink.”
Speaking of choices, FM also chatted about a decision the group made before releasing the album Free Wired. Bruno Mars helped write and produce the hit single, “Rocketeer,” but at the time was not a known artist. When the demo version of the song leaked after Mars became a superstar, some questioned the need to grab OneRepublic front man Ryan Tedder for the hook in the first place. But Kev Nish revealed that it was a joint-decision between Far East Movement and Mars to enlist Tedder’s services.
“We envisioned an alternative rock hook,” said Kev of the song. “We were listening to OneRepublic ‘Apologize,’ and thinking, ‘Let’s go with Ryan.’”
“Rocketeer” flew up the charts across the globe, cracking the Top 10 in a number of countries, including the U.S.
Slowly but surely, things are returning to normal for singer and former Disney star Demi Lovato. The 18 year-old has seen her fair share of trials and tribulations over the past year – capped off by a trip to rehab last fall where she was treated for eating disorders and diagnosed bi-polar.
Now, Lovato finds herself back in the headlines for all of the right reasons: a number one iTunes song in “Skyscraper.” Fans and friends alike have voiced or tweeted approval for the track, which the teenager recorded a year ago while silently dealing with personal issues.
“I took advantage of that hour and a half in the studio of me singing this song, and I was doubled-over in emotional pain,” Lovato said via telephone in an interview that aired Tuesday evening on “The Ralphie Radio Show.” “I used it as, almost what I look at now, as my cry for help.”
Lovato finds it ironic that a year ago, she sang about her problems silently. Now, not only is she speaking openly and honestly, but she’s helping others in the process. The singer dreams that her give-and-take with fans extends not just on iTunes or Twitter, but on stage as well.
“I dream about those moments all the time,” she responded when asked about one day performing “Skyscraper” live, for an audience. “If I could, I’d do it tomorrow… but we have to rehearse first.”
Demi is not trying to get ahead of herself, either. While she deals with her personal issues one day at a time, the artist is also finishing up new album. Lovato has no timeline for a release, and that’s probably a good thing. She noted that this is her first album that she didn’t have to record, “in a month.”
“Every other album I haven’t had time to really take my time and craft it like I really wanted to do because I was finding spare time between a television show, and movies, and touring, and then all over again,” she said. “I’ve worked on (the album) for the past year and really gone hard over the past few months, but you can definitely tell that I took my time with this record.”
Some big names are also making time for Lovato – including Kara DioGuardi, Toby Gad, and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder – all big songwriters who the teen has recorded with for her third studio album.
But those names pale in comparison to some of the other people who showed public support for Demi after the release of “Skyscraper.” Selena Gomez, Pete Wentz, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, and many more artists reached out to Lovato to congratulate her on the song. And Lovato says just about everyone in her phone book reached out personally to give props.
“It’s the first single that I’ve ever released that has ever gone to radio, so I’m not really used to this reaction,” Lovato admitted. “I just feel like I’m in a dream right now, it’s crazy.”
Given what she’s already faced at a rather young age, I’m sure this is one dream that Lovato isn’t trying to wake up from any time soon.
There aren’t many bigger Ryan Tedder/OneRepublic fans than yours truly, but Bruno Mars killed the hook on this song. Apparently this is the demo version – so don’t call it the remix… call it the… pre-mix?
He’s the lead singer of OneRepublic. The guy’s band is currently on tour with Rob Thomas. The group is releasing a new LP this month. He’s also writing and producing some of the biggest hits on radio for some of the most popular artists. But if you’re Ryan Tedder, you know you’re busy when you miss the deadline for Rihanna’s new album.
“(Laughing) Man, that week literally, I was working on stuff, and they were closing out her record, and I just missed (the deadline) by the cusp,” Tedder revealed. OneRepublic’s front man called in to The Ralphie Radio Show while on the road, and sounded optimistic about a future opportunity to work with Rihanna. “I mean, I know they’ll be repackaging it at some point. Yunno, they repackage everything at some point, so. I talked to her label and I’m definitely gonna bring some heat for the reissue.” —
Part 1: Rihanna, Michael Bolton, Making Radio Hits
Part 2: Balancing OneRepublic/Side Projects, New LP, New Hit Predictions
— Rihanna’s last LP, Good Girl Gone Bad, spawned Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded, which included the mega hit, “Take A Bow.”Other projects that Tedder worked on included the new release from Leona Lewis (Tedder co-wrote “Bleeding Love”, and wrote her new single, “Happy”) and Adam Lambert’s For Your Entertainment. Tedder is responsible for the song, “Sleepwalker” – which he predicts will be a radio hit. Another big song prediction of Tedder’s is the next OneRepublic track, “Secrets”
“It connects, man,” Tedder noted of the song, which already reached the top of the iTunes sales charts overseas (The German movie, Zweiohrküken featured “Secrets” on its soundtrack). “We have a lot of high hopes for ‘Secrets’.”
While the song is reminiscent of the sound that made Dreaming Out Loud such a success, if it doesn’t take off in the States, it wouldn’t mark the first incorrect prediction by Tedder. The songwriter admits he is still learning the skill of marrying the right song to the right artist, and cited Jennifer Lopez’s “Do It Well” as an example.
“It sounded like such a hit for her,” said Tedder. “It was kind of one of those deals where, I think people just really didn’t care. They were kinda like, ‘Eh, J-Lo, whatever.’”
Clearly, Tedder hopes for a different reaction when OneRepublic releases their sophomore LP, Waking Up, on November 17.
You know the premise by now – budding, raw talent builds following through social networking site, catches the eye of someone important, lands a record deal. Sean Kingston reached out to J.R. Rotem on MySpace, and then found the Island singer I-Yaz. MySpace is the same site that helped the career of Colbie Caillat. Priscilla Renea and Esmee Denters were both YouTube sensations before catching the eyes and ears of Capitol Records and Justin Timberlake, respectively.
Thing is, the story is becoming more and more common. While all the aforementioned artists have or are receiving airplay on mainstream radio – there are still others, waiting in the wings, with much more than a webcam to promote their talent.
The 23 year-old wrote, played, and sang for six years. She eventually decided YouTube might be the best outlet to perform, connect, and network until she could get discovered. Then in March of 2008, Kaprelian won an online contest for her cover of OneRepublic’s “Apologize.” Soon after, the band’s record label, Interscope, signed Tamar to a deal. —
— Almost two years later, Kaprelian will release her first LP, slated for February 2010. Tamar has split her time in the past 18 months between touring, writing, and charity work: the singer is just finishing a 30-day, 30-city tour for Feeding America. Kaprelian joined forces with the likes of David Arquette and The Cheesecake Factory for “Drive Out Hunger”, raising soup donations for the needy. After performing Saturday night in New York City, Kaprelian woke up at her usual 4 a.m. for the next stop – Edison, NJ. This is where I met up with her – to chat about the soup drive and the music projects – amidst the Menlo Park Mall – which echoed with the chants and cheers of caffeine-fueled workers accepting donations.
“I worked for Cheesecake Factory before I signed with Interscope,” revealed Kaprelian. “They’ve been so supportive of my music, and of my career, and so they asked me to get involved with this charity, and I said of course.” —
Part 1: Feeding America/Cheesecake Factory, OneRepublic Contest, YouTube
Part 2: “The Hills”, Armenian Heritage, Forthcoming LP
— The tour provides Kaprelian with quite the change of perspective. As we sat in an almost empty restaurant, people who worked a job she once held scurried about around us, setting tables and preparing for open.
“It is very surreal, but I feel very blessed,” Kaprelian said. At two different points during the interview, a server mistook us for two customers. Each time, Kaprelian stopped and thanked the person for attempting to wait on us, before informing them that we were just in the restaurant to take refuge from the noisy chambers of the mall.
Kaprelian wraps up the food drive on October 1, and then heads back to Los Angeles. She’s already worked on two tracks for the LP with OneRepublic front man Ryan Tedder – one of which Tamar reveals is a duet with label mate and All-American Rejects lead singer Tyson Ritter.
“It’s gonna be a cool record… he’s so talented,” Kaprelian said of her time working with Ritter. The collaboration wasn’t her first encounter with AAR – she sang backup for the group on “Ellen”, “Jimmy Kimmel Live”, and “The Tonight Show.”
Butch Walker also contributes to the project, which is yet to be titled. Kaprelian seems to be mulling over three options – Delicate Soul, It Is What It Is, or Sinner Or Saint.
The title may not be chosen, but the first single is: Kaprelian confirmed that “New Day” will be the lead song from the album. The track gained notoriety when MTV featured it in the last scene of Season 5 on “The Hills” – the track served as Lauren Conrad’s swan song. Kaprelian told me that she knew it’d be in the finale, but had no clue as to how and when it would be heard.
“You hope (the song is) at the end,” said Kaprelian. “I was over the moon. We were in the sitting room, and my entire family and I were watching it, and it was just such a great moment.”
Tamar was born in Arizona and also raised in Georgia. Like me, she is proudly of Armenian descent. I even learned something during the interview: apparently Gwen Stefani is also Armenian.
“Family is important to us,” Kaprelian said. “(My family has been) beyond supportive. They’re really happy for me. I think they’re just proud that I get to do what I love to do every day.”
With the recent addition of a third song to iTunes, a radio promo tour set for January, and an LP to follow – the Kaprelian’s will have much to be supportive for, as Tamar will be doing what she loves on a daily basis for the foreseeable future.
Working with big name songwriters and producers can have both pros and cons. This came to light in the recent feud between Kelly Clarkson and her record label over releasing the track, “Already Gone” to radio stations. Clarkson felt the song sounded too similar to Beyonce’s “Halo.” OneRepublic front man Ryan Tedder wrote and produced both.
Butch Walker is behind many tracks from quite a few big name artists – from Avril Lavigne to Simple Plan, Katy Perry to Pink. Walker’s latest production is the song, “How You Love Me Now.” It’s a single from Hold On Tight, the debut LP of Hey Monday, a pop-rock group fronted by Cassadee Pope. The lead singer insists she wasn’t worried about the final collaboration with Walker sounding too similar to his other pieces of work.
“That’s always a risk,” admitted Pope. “But if you stay true to what your sound is and everything, and if it clicks with that other person, it’s usually just what you want.”
Pope called in to The Ralphie Radio Show on Tuesday to chat about a plethora of topics – including the new single, which Cassadee describes as “prideful.”
“It’s just about getting your heart broken and then that person wanting you back, but they also have someone else on the side,” Pope explained. “And you just kinda tell them that that’s not gonna happen.” — Download the mp3
— Hey Monday’s debut LP also spawned the track, “Homecoming” which Pete Wentz featured on his CitizensFOB mix-tape last fall. The pop rockers are signed to Wentz’s Decaydence label. The association with the Fall Out Boy bassist carries many perks – Hey Monday supported Fall Out Boy on the band’s “Believer’s Never Die Tour Part Deux” last spring. Pope and Wentz also cameo together in Degrassi: The Next Generation TV Movie. In case you’re wondering, the lead singer did not meet actor and Young Money emcee Aubrey “Drake” Graham – he does not appear in the film.
Currently Hey Monday is playing a set of acoustic shows at Hot Topic stores across the country. Pope admitted, the idea to shop before or after performing at the malls is tempting.
“I kinda splurged the first few days, but I’m being good now,” said Pope. “I kinda had an episode in Forever 21. I bought a lot of shirts and, I think I bought a skirt too. I packed light for this tour because I knew I’d be shopping.”
This fall, Hey Monday will tour to support We The Kings and All Time Low.