Sitting in the vintage-swank lounge of his Patriot Studios earlier this week, musician Ryan Tedder had a lot on his mind.
The Denver-based producer is nominated for two Grammys — one for Adele’s red-hot record “21,” on which he co-wrote and produced the next two singles (“Rumour Has It,” “Turning Tables”), and the other for producer of the year.
The musician is also making a record for his own multiplatinum rock band, OneRepublic. A handwritten note hung in contrast to the polished surroundings of the studio downstairs with reminders written for Tedder and the band. “Tempo.” “Sing with soul.” “Simple.”
But perhaps most pressing on Tedder’s mind is tonight’s holiday concert at the Ogden Theatre — an idea the singer-songwriter-producer came up with after a meeting with Gov. John Hickenlooper.
“At the dinner, we were talking about using music as a tool in kids’ lives,” said Tedder, dressed casually earlier this week in his sprawling Cherry Creek-area home/studio. “I asked the governor, ‘It’s so weird to me, why and how there are so many major acts in the Denver area, all these bands signed to major labels. Where I’m from originally, in Tulsa, where I was born, that doesn’t happen.”
Tonight’s Denver Acoustic Christmas is the result of Tedder’s brainstorming. The show will feature acoustic performances by Tedder’s OneRepublic, Isaac Slade and Joe King of the Fray, members of the Flobots, Matt Morris and Bop Skizzum to benefit the Children’s Hospital, the Food Bank of the Rockies and the Denver Santa Claus Shop.
Tickets are $39.50, and the $150 VIP seats include a meet-and-greet with OneRepublic — both are available via axs.com.
“To be able to turn around and cut checks to these three organizations three days before Christmas will be phenomenal,” Tedder said.
Tedder is in the giving spirit after a busy and fruitful 2011. His producer of the year Grammy nomination recognizes his recent work with Adele, Beyoncé (“I Was Here”), Demi Lovato (“Who’s That Boy”), Jennifer Hudson (“I Remember Me”), Colbie Caillat (“Brighter Than the Sun,” “Favorite Song”), Gavin DeGraw (“Sweeter,” “Not Over You”), Cobra Starship (“#1Nite”) and others.
Tedder wrote or co-wrote all of those songs, and they’re all big names. And then there are his songs slated for release in 2012, from artists as varied as Maroon 5 and K’NAAN, Rascal Flatts and Swedish House Mafia, B.O.B. and Carrie Underwood. Heck, country star Faith Hill’s first single in five-plus years is “Come Home,” a Tedder-penned track that first closed out OneRepublic’s debut record, which was home to one of the biggest pop smashes of all time, “Apologize.”
One of the biggest compliments Tedder has ever received came from Caillat’s label recently, when they unknowingly acknowledged one of his DeGraw songs — and later managed their surprise when they learned he had written it.
“I was doing these big, mid-tempo songs a couple years ago — ‘Halo,’ ‘Bleeding Love,’ ” Tedder said in reference to his past hits with Beyoncé and Leona Lewis, respectively.
“And then the tempo switched to all-dance music, and that threw me for a loop. I had to relearn how to program and produce dance music … And now I just want to be known for being able to produce anything.”
A big part of that is Patriot Studios, the world-class outfit attached to the home Tedder shares with his wife and 17-month-old baby. Modeled after a couple of his favorite recording studios, Patriot is a fully functioning joint decked out with the latest technology — alongside some classic analog tape machines. It has the polish of new construction, but Tedder carefully selected its materials — including Civil War-era wooden beams and floors — to give it warmth and personality.
“Most studios that I’ve been to in my life have felt antiseptic,” said Tedder. “The lounges usually look like dimly lit Ikea rooms. Studios are built to make money, to be practical, form follows function — and I wanted to make a studio that is function-follows-form, one that is built around artists.”
Tedder said that the good word about Patriot is already spreading. The Maroon 5 guys have already been in, and they’ll be back in the new year — as will many other artists seeking Tedders’ songs and production. The studio wasn’t finished when Tedder was working with Adele. He did “Turning Tables” in London and “Rumour Has It” in Los Angeles. But working with the artist on what has become the biggest album of 2011 remains “the most artistically fulfilling collaboration I’ve ever had,” he said.
“I pursued working with her for one reason. She was my favorite singer in the world. She had my favorite voice. And the one consistency I’ve had with all my stuff: Great voices. Give a great singer a great song, and it’ll go places.
“She was the most down to earth and effortlessly good singer I’ve ever worked with. She sang ‘Rumor Has It’ in two takes, and she sang ‘Turning Tables’ in one take. Kelly Clarkson and Beyoncé, they’re both incredible, but nobody walks in and nails a song in one take. Aretha does that, I hear. But nobody else.”