It was early Saturday when Reed left the Sony building. By Sunday afternoon, he had signed all the paperwork making him an artist on Epic Records. (The Wallpaper. creator wouldn't share financial details of the deal: "I'll just say that I can focus on the music.")

Major record labels aren't known for always treating their artists well, or for allowing them creative freedom. Much of Reed's excitement about signing with Reid, Stewart, and Epic comes from his feeling that they all bonded over music, not business, that night. Reed didn't tell the label guys that his ambition for Wallpaper. is to continue making blue-collar pop songs that celebrate listeners' actual lives, rather than selling them some unattainable fantasy. But he believes that was understood. "These guys didn't sign me 'cause I'm a hot, petite, 18-year-old girl," Reed says. "They signed me for my ideas. L.A. Reid is too smart to sign someone like me and then have someone else write all my songs and have me learn how to do choreographed dancing."

A pop band for the 99 percent, now on the label that brought you Thriller.
Rob Naples
A pop band for the 99 percent, now on the label that brought you Thriller.

Though he may be on his way to the charts — Epic plans to push new Wallpaper. single "Fucking Best Song Everrr" to radio stations — Reed insists that his distaste for the materialism of much mainstream pop hasn't softened. "When I started Wallpaper. ... I thought that the best way to change something was to sort of throw rocks at it from the outside." The Bay Area's newest major-label artist then lobs a heavy look over the top of his sunglasses, and it's clear that that view, at least, has changed: "I like to believe that I'm the Trojan horse," he says.

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