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Eric Frederic of Wallpaper
Goiní Big With Mr. Ricky Reed
by Matt Crawford on Dec 12, 2008
Armed with a gold dookie chain and an 80s thrift store wardrobe, those nifty sunglasses with the green arm bands that you see everywhere these days, and vicious auto-tune vocals, Wallpaperís Eric Frederic embodies the 'me generation' with his alter ego Ricky Reed. The singer doesnít start the party with jams about going big on the weekends and textual romance -- he is the party. Frederic spoke with SF Station during a break from working on the Bay Area-based groupís debut LP, which he says will build off of the electro funk of the recent T Rex EP, with a more expansive, band-oriented sound.
SF Station (SFS): Did you put a lot of thought into Wallpaper before you started the project or was it spontaneous?
Eric Frederic (EF): It was very spontaneous. I was in the studio with Facing New York, my rock band, and I needed an outlet because we were really intensively working on our record, which was kind of a prog-rock opus. I wanted to do something that was kind of fun, silly and laid back.
SFS: Is it still fun and laid back now that Wallpaper is more popular?
EF: I canít deny that there is more pressure related to Wallpaper. A handful of more people are paying attention to it, but itís still very important for me to find that place where there is no self-consciousness about the material and it comes from a spontaneous, true place.
SFS: How do you channel that?
EF: I channel it by separating myself into two people. I (Eric) produce the Wallpaper records and take production very seriously, and Ricky does the vocals. Heís a very different person than I am, and I leave the vocal work to him while I do the music.
SFS: Do you split the tasks on different days? How do you get to that persona?
EF: Not only do I have to do it on different days, itís a whole different state of mind on the day that Iím doing vocal work. I really donít understand or feel my emotions or thoughts very much when Iím in his head.
SFS: Does that surpriseÖor scare you?
EF: It actually does a little bit, now and then, but I think itís key to the process. I donít mind doing it -- itís actually kind of fun -- but itís definitely weird to be two people sometimes.
SFS: Did any other musicians with an alter ego or persona have an influence on Ricky?
EF: The project, in all aspects, has a lot of influences from George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. We definitely see ourselves in the lineage of that. But most of the inspiration for that character came from going to K-mart and seeing obnoxious people in line jib-jabbering on their Bluetooth while they buy flat screen TVs and donít make conversation with anybody. Ricky embodies the excesses of society and how nasty consumerism is.
SFS: ďTxt Me Yr LoveĒ is a kind of tongue-and-cheek commentary on cell phones. What are your thoughts on texting and the way it has changed people and dating?
EF: Conversations on the phone, in person or even through e-mail are substituted with texting. With dating specifically, itís a real easy way to do things without showing your face or even having someone hear your voice. You can really cowardly handle things and do things haphazardly. The idea of professing your love for someone via text message is the pinnacle of how silly cell phone culture is. Most people that I know who are really hard to get a hold of, the only thing they respond to is text messages. Itís crazy.
SFS: When did you decide to use auto tune with vocals?
EF: It was there from the beginning in early 2005 when I did the first EP. It was perfect because the project was about being a satire on pop music and eventually it became a satire on culture in general. It was a response to people who used auto tune to make themselves sound more in tune -- there were no T Painís at that time. My thought was to crank it up as high as it goes to be the ultimate mockery of people who use it when they donít want to be noticed and they just want to sound good.
Now, itís obviously a sound that is part of a culture. The phrase ďauto tuneĒ is on the kitchen table. It is what it is, and I intend to continue using it as part of the sound of the group.
SFS: It hasnít caused you to rethink anything?
EF: No, not one bit.
SFS: Even after T Pain said auto tune is dead?
EF: Especially after T Pain said auto tune is dead. If you get into making music, and you start listening to anybody who tells you to start or stop doing something, you shouldnít have gotten into it to begin with.
by Matt Crawford on Dec 12, 2008