By Javier Hasse
“I do not want to be another name in a hat or another brand jumping on the bandwagon. We have to be different,” said Ryan Tedder, lead vocalist of the band OneRepublic, during an exclusive conversation focused on his new hemp-infused sparkling water, MAD TASTY.
MAD TASTY was released in late 2019, backed by the renowned beverages investment company, First Bev. The newly launched beverage is not the first of its kind to appear on the market of hemp and CBD products in the last few years. Far from it, in fact.
However, with zero sugar or sweeteners, and 20 mg of pure, broad-spectrum hemp extract, it’s certainly one of the healthiest options – a feature the musician is particularly proud of.
“Not using preservatives, staying all natural, not using sugars, really verifying the amount of hemp extract in your drink, including who’s growing it, and making sure that they are staying as clean, organic and natural as humanly possible…I think that’s the path forward,” Ryan said.
Mad, But Not High
Ryan joins many other celebrities getting behind CBD as a healthy, alternative way to treat ailments like anxiety.
“In late 2016 I was overworked and over-travelled, having flown about 400,000 miles that year – in about a 6 month period, I was absolutely upside down,” he voiced. “I wasn’t sleeping: for the first time in life I started having panic attacks and feeling depression… I ended up getting on prescribed drugs to deal with my anxiety.”
But Ryan’s fear of getting hooked on Xanax and other addictive medications led him to look elsewhere for solutions to his anxiety.
“I was having heart palpitations from stress, and at the same time the Hemp Drive and Charlotte’s Web entered my life. I started dosing with CBD, I absolutely loved how it made me feel…it just centered me.”
But, while many of his Hollywood peers (and a lot more regular people) enjoy getting high, the OneRepublic front man prefers to steer clear of any mind-altering substances – including THC. This is something he feels makes up a crucial part of MAD TASTY’s brand appeal.
The beverage, which currently comes in Grapefruit and Watermelon Kiwi flavors, also aims to attract a wide audience of health-focused individuals, regardless of age – a trend the singer has seen increase amongst Millenials and Gen Z.
The ‘CBD Explosion’
After reuniting with his high school friends Joel and Jesse Stanley, founders of the CBD company Charlotte’s Web, Ryan became an instant fan of the hemp plant, learning all about it’s ancient medicinal background, it’s history, and the many ways in which it can be consumed.
But the songwriter soon realized he wasn’t the only one interested in cannabis: “I was watching how my friends and different recording artists were reacting to the CBD explosion and the very few beverages that were in the space… And there was this overwhelming love for it. You can’t go to a dinner, a meal, an event, a graduation, or a birthday without somebody bringing up how they use CBD and what it does for them.”
The combination of his personal experience with CBD and hemp extracts, a six-month hiatus from music – post-breakdown in 2016, and the wellness related cannabis market boom in the U.S. led Ryan to consider starting a business. It was at Interscope Records, his recording label, that the idea and brand name for MAD TASTY came to fruition. Interscope would then, naturally, become one of the brand’s main collaborators.
A Dislike For Water
Constantly forgetting to hydrate out of a dislike for water, Ryan wanted to create a beverage that would offer the same level of hydration, with the additional benefits of CBD.
“Not to sound narcissistic, but it is self-serving: that’s why I made it. I wanted something that I would drink,” he explained, adding that this also was what sealed the deal with SORSE as the company’s partner. “I was trying all these beverages on the market and they all tasted bitter… or there was a lot of erythritol or stevia, or flat out sugar…so when I found SORSE, with their flavoring and their emulsification, it was like all the stars aligned.”
After extensive research and testing of hemp levels for MAD TASTY, market testing in L.A., and creating a package design reminiscent of street art in the 70s and 80s, the brand was launched in 2019, with sales skyrocketing in the state of California.
“I’m not pushy with it. But, because I love the brand, and I’m really always drinking it, it kind of sells itself,” he said, noting that the DROP4DROP component of the brand is more important to him than the sales themselves.
“More kids die from diarrhea than any other disease in the world, which is totally treatable, but it’s because the water in so many countries is completely toxic.” he commented.
This is why, for every 12-ounce can of MAD TASTY sold, the company donates 12 ounces of clean drinking water to places in need. And so far, only 4 months into market launch, they’ve already built a clean-water well in India.
This cause has been close to his heart for a long time, he said. The CBD business is just a way to enable growth.
“My dream is to build hundreds of wells all over India, Africa, about a dozen other countries that we’re targeting. That’s the thing I’m the most excited about, above and beyond the Hemp extract, the branding or all that. We are a lifestyle brand to be sure, but the give back component of this is not even the icing on the cake, it is the cake.”