Interview and Photo by Shereen Kheradyar
Shereen: How are you doing? How has the tour been? I believe this is your first headline tour, right?
Ricky: It is the second headlining tour. But it’s the first one of this scale. It’s the first time we’re leaving the country during a tour. We had our first headlining tour six months ago. So it’s all very fresh. It kind of feels like it’s the same tour in a weird way. But yeah, it’s going well. It’s all sold out, which is obviously amazing. Our drummer and now our bass player both have COVID so we had them behind in Philly. We’ve been testing negative consistently over and over again but we did have to postpone two shows, thankfully not the Boston show! I will say it will be stripped because we still don’t have a drummer and a bass player. So it’s going to be me and the guitar player semi-improving up there. It’s something, we are definitely learning a lot from. It is the world that performing artists live in right now and it is very treacherous. We are very excited to get back on the road tomorrow.
S: That’s exciting though! Tell me more about where you started, did you do music growing up?
R: So, not really. My mom has her masters in theater, so she’s a pretty good singer. My dad was in my traveling plays when he was younger. He also is a pretty good guitar player. And they both worked in TV. When I was born, my dad was a lighting guy and my mom did commercial acting for a while, and catering but never quite put full force into it. And by the time I was of the age where I could remember anything she was doing education again. My grandma also plays piano at her church. So, I was surrounded by it in a lot of proximal ways. My dad’s best friend was in a professional Rolling Stones tribute band that would play stadiums. And he was a Mick Jagger impersonator, and he’d be at my house all the time. So I have a very complicated relationship with the Rolling Stones for that reason. But I started playing clarinet when I was in fourth grade. Not by choice. I did drop out of the school band in ninth grade, cause I did not like marching band and I taught myself how to play guitar. Took a couple of classes at my school, but they were very, very, very, very, very basic. Then I started doing bands and fast-forward eventually I put out some music after accruing a vine following and here we are today.
S: Was there a moment when you finally pushed yourself to fully dive into it, professionally? Or were you kind of just doing it on the side and seeing where it landed?
R: I think for a lot of people that is a push and pull thing where they have to make that decision multiple times. The first time that I did that, I kicked out my bandmate when I was 19. It was after a show or one of my band members was late to soundcheck and just wasn’t taking it seriously. And I was like, look, man, I want to do this. Throughout my life, I’ve had to have a bunch of conversations like that. When I was in college, I was like, “Man, I’ve been doing this for a while now” putting on shows and stuff. And one time my band got like announced for a show on the radio. That was the best we ever did. So, we were getting some local clout, but I knew I wanted to come back to LA cause that’s where I’m originally from. Then I did quit music again, cause I had some family trouble, that I really wanted to take more seriously than anything else. About a year later, I just kept on making money from it to be totally honest. And I thought, “okay, maybe this is a viable career path for me.” I was in big-time provider for my family mode. And I’m lucky that I did that because not too long after that we had a little TikTok moment.
S: What was going through your head when you started to notice your music was blowing up? Was it slowly or all at once?
It was slowly and then all at once. It had stages and it continues to have stages, but the first moment where things seemed to be doing better than they have been doing, was before the TikTok stuff. I got to deal with this game called OSU because the songs on the album, Montgomery, Ricky, we’re doing really well. They kept getting used to the point where they emailed me to license it for the game. They’re like, “how about we do it for 300 a song” and it’s 10 songs. So I was like, “oh, whoa, $3,000” and then I was like “500.” That was my first big paycheck. And then after that, I just kind of kept getting bigger and bigger checks. Then the TikTok thing started to happen. It was kind of precipitous after that. The first few labels reached out when Mr. Loverman began to bloom. And I already knew what to do, so I needed to put my face in front of the sounds. Then, I got really lucky with like a bunch of anime fandoms were using Line Without a Hook, which is now even bigger than Mr. Loverman. Once that happened, every label and their mom reached out. We settled with Warner and the rest is history that’s.
S: What was that moment like? Was it kinda like that “you made it” moment?
R: I never had that moment, to be honest. It was more like a relief, like, “oh, thank God” because I dropped out of school, spent a lot, did a whole Kickstarter for the album, and put in a ton of work. I dedicated my entire, 21st year of life to making that album. I’d gone from living in New York, doing a pretty cool internship at Adultswim to moving back in with my mom to do music for a year in rural Missouri–at what I thought was the height of my career. It was psychologically super weird to not have that become anything massive to me and then when it did, I felt a lot of vindication. And now it’s more just like, what can I do now? What’s the ceiling?
S: Do you feel like you have a source of inspiration when it comes to music? Are there any unexpected things that influenced your music?
All the time! There are some reliable bands and artists that I really, really love and respect. Right now I’m so excited because there’s a Radiohead side-project coming out the same day as the new Kendrick Lamar album and those are two of my favorite artists. And I’m playing St.
Louis that day, which I haven’t played since I was in high school. So it’s going to be like a crazy day for me. Frank Ocean is another big one. Any artists that really take the album format seriously. Ones that come to mind are Bjork, Talking Heads, the Beatles…people that do albums and do them well, tend to be the people that I gravitate toward. That’s what I strive for and that’s what I’m trying to make now. Those are the people that inspire me, but anything will. Environments that are visually inspiring or something that I see one day that makes me laugh really hard– it can be anything. I try to be as open as possible to those things guiding me rather than me trying to think, “oh, I wish I could write a pop-y song today.” That just never worked for me. I kind of have to let the experience, create something in my head and go from there.
S: When you’re making music, are you making the music for yourself or is there something you hope people listening get out of it?
Yeah, I always spent a lot of time on lyrics, and sometimes I’ve written songs that are meant to be taken a little sarcastically, like California, as an example. And it doesn’t quite read that way to people. It’s never disappointing, but it’s always like, “oh, wow. I’m surprised people took it that way or like this way or that way.” I definitely try to leave lots of little like Easter eggs and multi-meanings in every song that I do just cause I like people that write that way. Eventually, I want to like get more into sampling and stuff, but I am terrified of that whole process–just legally speaking.
S: Do you have a favorite song that you’ve made or written.?
Hmm. I think the best production is Out like a Light and writing is I Don’t Love You Anymore or Sorry for Me.
S: Has there been a most memorable show or memory since you started touring or making music?
This isn’t like the most memorable thing but at our Houston show, we had the first moment where somebody lit up a joint in the audience and some of the crowd reaction was very mixed. It’s also Texas where that’s not legal, but honestly, we exchanged looks between the band members on stage and the only thought in my mind was, “Finally, cool. We’re there. They trust us” or something. It felt more like I was playing to my peers and that was kind of exciting. I don’t smoke weed anymore, but it reminded me of going to shows myself and all that. Just seeing people want to participate with us on stage every night is really exciting. We have a very, very generous crowd with their energy and their attention and excitement.
S: What do you spend your time doing when you’re not touring or have a day off?
I am a creative writer. I try to write as much as I can. I will write a lot of little quick writing game-type stuff. I don’t respond to poetry but I write a lot of little haikus just to be competitive with myself. I game constantly. Right now I started a new Minecraft world for tour to see how far I can get by the end. And then my girlfriend and I are playing Pokemon. I beat the hell out of Elden Ring before I left for tour– a grotesque level in that game. Other than that, I’m a bit of a homebody only because I feel like I have a lot of work to do, and I try to dedicate as much of my time lately to creating if I can. Obviously, listen to a lot of music.
S: If you could collaborate with any artists who would it be and why?
That changes pretty much every day. Currently, the answer is Mitski. Any of the artists that I’ve already mentioned would be on that list. I really want to work with rappers more in the future–in any capacity, like co-production. I just kind of get bored by indie-pop. A lot of the time, I just find it a little bit one-note. Another artist I would love to do that with is Wallace, Thundercat, Denzel Curry, Tyler the Creator, Lil Uzi, Young Thug, Vince Staples, and Kevin Abstract.
S: Is there anything new we can expect in the near future or anything you’re working on right now that you’re like allowed to talk about?
There are definitely things I’m working on. I would talk about them if I didn’t think that it would put me in a hole with timelines. I’m trying to take a bit of time, finally. After being at a label, it’s a lot of going a mile a minute. After putting out a little bit of an EP, I can actually try to hone an album and I’m trying to take as much time as I can without being slow. So there’s definitely stuff that I have done and am finishing. There will be a lot of recording this year, so I wouldn’t expect an album for a little while, but there may be other things that come sooner.