Ricky Reed released “Real Magic,” a gliding, double-time collaboration with Terrace Martin and St. Panther, on Tuesday. Reed is best known as the songwriter-producer behind Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty,” Lizzo’s “Good as Hell,” and Halsey’s “Bad at Love,” among other hits; he will release his solo debut, The Room, in August.
With it’s tempo-change and flat, high-speed drum, programming, “Real Magic” evokes a danceable corner of Nineties R&B that includes Ghost Town DJ’s “My Boo” and K.P. & Envyi’s “Swing My Way.” Quarantined listeners were able to watch Reed construct “Real Magic” in real time — tinkering with percussion patterns and speeds — earlier this year as part of his Nice Live! YouTube series, where the producer solicited demos from friends and built them into tracks on the fly while thousands of people watched.
The video series “began as a mental health exercise for me to keep from going crazy,” Reed explained earlier this year. “How can we really spread inspiration and challenge our community to shake off this freeze [during a pandemic], when anxiety puts you in that freeze state?” The answer, for Reed, involved drinking wine and live-streaming his creative process.
The sessions became more sophisticated as Reed became more comfortable with the live-streaming technology. “If you start on episode one, I’m in my kitchen and the Pro Tools audio is crashing every five seconds,” Reed recalled. “I’m like holding my headphones up to the mic to show people what I’m doing because the audio isn’t coming through. With every episode there is a slight upgrade in the quality, a few less technical difficulties. When I added a second camera, I was very proud of that. I felt like I was in a damn ESPN production studio.”
What started as a self-help project soon transformed into something else. “Bigger artists are paying attention [to the series],” Reed said in April. “I’ll post one of these [demos], and I’ll have an artist text me on the side — ‘hey, what’s going on with that one?'”
Now they know: The songs are coming out on The Room, due August 28. The album also features contributions from Lido Pimienta, Duendita, Kiana Ledé, Leon Bridges, and Jim James.