Ricky Reed has got soul and gangster sensibilities, but don’t attempt to liken him to anyone you know, ‘cause he ain’t like most dudes. Not only that, but Reed, the persona of Oakland’s very own Wallpaper., wants to stray away from the idea of “ironic hipster white dude dance music” altogether.
Wallpaper. is the hyperbolic brainchild of 27-year-old Eric Frederic, an East Bay native who branched out from indie-rock outfit Facing New York in the mid-2000s to pursue a solo whim.
In the nearly five years since, Frederic has gone from performing at intimate hometown venues to jet-setting around the North American continent. But what seems like a tremendous leap from Point A to Point B is simply a natural progression of things in his mind.
“It’s funny because there’s never been a big step up,” Frederic said. “Everything [has] felt like a gradual push.”
The most recent manifestation of said push is the release of Wallpaper.’s full-length, “Doodoo Face,” which came out today. The album represents an evolution and overall maturation in the artist’s sound, employing keyboards and live brass into the overall schema of things. Frederic described the in-studio setup used during recording as “a monstrous clusterfuck…a smorgasbord of shit.”
And no wonder, considering his inspiration. Frederic draws from a vast array of influences, most prominently P-Funk and afrobeat. However it was the music of hyphy artists—Too $hort in particular—that pushed his music into the direction it’s heading today.
“That was a serious turning point for Wallpaper.,” he said of his initial exposure to the Bay Area Hip-Hop movement.
And alongside that added element comes a deeper look at Ricky Reed, whose personality “comes into focus more” and is better able to broach serious issues.
“We’re going for bigger ideas, and those are matched with bigger musical ideas,” Frederic said of the complementary nature of the Ricky Reed character and the music he puts out.
Instead of a “blanket criticism of celebrity culture,” Frederic sees the continued development of Ricky Reed as a deeper look into the problems existing within a generation of young adults influenced and dominated by technology.
He made reference to a sense of “unbelievable malaise” which comes about as a result of the paradox between being simultaneously hyper-connected and isolated.
Yet there exists a duality between Frederic as a person and Ricky Reed as his medium, and Wallpaper.’s fans accurately reflect that dichotomy. While some are drawn to the music because of its satirical content, others simply enjoy it at face value.
“We get people from all walks of life,” Frederic said of his fans.
And just as there are two sides to the Wallpaper. frontman’s personality, there are two sides—the pros and the cons—to doing what he does.
Frederic finds that writing and performing music is rewarding, in that there is almost always something to get excited about.
“If you get something done…it’s just a jump in your step,” he explained.
On the flipside, he pointed to the reality of the situation: that he is still working to make financial ends meet, and his life doesn’t consist of all the glamour and glitz so familiar to Ricky.
But Frederic keeps on keeping on. When he’s not writing songs or promoting his music, he still manages to log a lot of in-studio time, often working the graveyard shifts while making remixes.
“I’m always in the middle of some creative process,” he said. “I’m just grinding 24/7 on it.”
In fact, in spite of his growing popularity, Frederic finds he still has a long journey ahead, with no determinate end goal in sight. But that doesn’t seem to bother him.
“The goal is just to continue,” he said. “I just wanna do it till I die.”