Most pop music producers probably don't shop for instruments at a party supply store, but Ricky Reed, the beatmaker behind Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty" and "Wiggle," isn't the average songwriter.
When heading to a rented house in Joshua Tree for a music-making session, Reed was inspired to add some new components to this production equipment. "We stopped at a Starbucks, and there was a Party City next to it," he told Yahoo Music in an exclusive interview. "I was like, 'Let's go there and buy some toy instruments,' and we found some toy flutes."
Reed's producing partner Axident thought the flute would sound good with the music that would become Derulo's latest hit, "Wiggle." And it worked. Reed, who has also used hand clappers, peanut wrappers, and percussive instruments as sound effects, also gives Derulo and songwriter J Kash credit for their vocal arrangement.
"The thing about having a flute hook, you need to write a vocal that complements the track," Reed said. "That's where we really lucked out with letting that flute sing and letting Jason sing, the interplay works well." Reed and Derulo's first collaboration was the singer's top 3 song, "Talk Dirty."
Reed originally made the "Talk Dirty" track for Missy Elliott. During a vacation in Televie, one of Reed's associates heard Balkan Beat Box's song "Hermetico" and tasked Reed with interpolating it for Missy. "I flipped the track, essentially keeping the best elements out of the sample and making it funky, loud, and mean for Missy." About a month later, Reed learned that Derulo recorded it, and he was shocked to hear how Derulo complimented the song. "He did this great song over it," Reed said. "I didn't know at that point that Jason was so musical, so versatile, how unique of an artist he was."
Reed's big records with Derulo and Far East Movement are affirming for L.A. Reid, the Epic Records chairman and CEO who signed Reed and his Bay Area band Wallpaper to the label in 2011 after hearing him play a jazzy piano rendition of his song "#stupidfacedd" during a private, impromptu Friday night audition. Wallpaper sounds nothing like the music Reed's created for other artists. Wallpaper is experimental mixture of electronic, hip-hop, pop, and rock, with psychedelic influences as evidenced on songs like "Good 4 It," "Hesher," and "Best Song Ever." Sly Stone's daughter Novena Carmel is in the group.
Though L.A. Reid and his A&R Tricky Stewart give Ricky all the creative freedom he could want and encourage him to continue to push the boundaries, he said the label head responsible for launching the careers of Usher, TLC, Pink, and OutKast has teased him about making hits for other labels. But the budding superstar producer doesn't have any regrets about giving away songs like "Talk Dirty" or Far East Movement's "The Illest."
"I couldn't sing 'Wiggle' the way Jason can, and I would sound corny if I sung that record, and that's fine with me," Reed said. He adds that understanding this process has helped his career thus far.
So don't expect Wallpaper's next album to sound like the song's he's made for other acts. "I'm still going to make my weird s**t the way I see fit for me," he said.