Introducing: Ricky Jamaraz
Where can we find you right now and what are you up to?
You can find me everywhere and nowhere… All over the place really. Any kind of music streaming platform, BOOM I’m there. Music videos on youtube? BOOYA! And pretty much everything else fun gets plonked on Insta (@rickyjamaraz wink wink). And in case you meant where I am like in the world, I come from a magical land called Nottingham, UK. It’s quite nice here in the suburbs, I live on the outskirts near the countryside so it’s just 5 minutes away from escaping reality in a field, which comes in handy.
As for what I’m up to, well, what aren’t I up to? Being annoyingly still a child, I do have to deal with school and stuff, which gets old pretty quick. But in my musical adventures, I’m currently working on my third album (untitled as of now), so I’ve been writing those sweet tunes a lot recently, and recording them in the comfort of my very own bedroom. I’ve got a new single called “supercrush” from the album being released soon, which I’ll talk about later!!
How do you write your songs?
I tend to write songs in the middle of the night, or anywhere where I’m alone and free from distractions. And yes, I know staying up super late isn’t recommended, but it works for me. I find it helps to have an empty head when I write, so I can just write down what I truly feel, and hope it rhymes. The main reason I write songs is because I want an outlet of some sort, it’s very therapeutic, and because I simply can’t relate to any other songs other people write, so I have to make my own.
There’s always a debate about whether people write lyrics first, or music first. I quite like to do both, and one of my favorite things to do is write some lyrics with music I imagine hearing in my head, and then attempt to recreate the music I feel inside me. I see it as a game, because it’s my favourite thing to do in the whole world. Or sometimes I might write some lyrics without any context, then write a load of instrumentals, and sort of mix and match, see what fits, you know?
Whatever happens, I always say “If I’m not having fun, I’m doing it wrong”. Yes, songwriting takes skill, but no amount of skill can ever compare to the same amount of feeling someone can put into something. All it takes is a feeling, and rest will fall into place, that’s how it works for me anyway, though I can’t speak for songwriters worldwide.
Tell us a bit about your gear (synth/software).
Well, I record all of my songs using a DAW called StudioOne on my trusty laptop, then I’ve got a pretty cheap audio interface I can either plug a microphone or a guitar into, and that’s about it. It’s pretty simple, I obviously do a lot of stuff in post-production in terms of guitars. StudioOne comes with a plugin called Ampire, which is a virtual amp simulator, so there’s no need for mic’ing up physical amps, too much effort for me! My microphone is also questionably cheap and dented from the times I’ve dropped it because my mic stand is broken. As I say this I realize I should invest in some better gear, but for now, I get by. I only technically own 2 electric guitars, but my dad owns a few acoustics and a bass so I sort of “borrow” them and “temporarily” keep them in my room, but he doesn’t mind.
What's the one thing you find difficult with today's state of the music industry?
The sheer amount of crap music that’s out there. Every day, roughly 60,000 songs get put up on Spotify, because it’s just so easy to do so, and as you imagine it’s incredibly hard as an indie artist like myself to get heard over all the noise. On one hand, the music industry has been revolutionized, with it being super easy for anyone to upload to Spotify basically for free. People like me can get their music out there, and get it heard. Apart from the fact that everyone has the same idea and it’s just an ocean of random music you couldn’t care less about. After all, who’s going to want to listen to a song some kid made in a couple of hours in his room? Most people would rather stick to who they know and are too scared to dip their toes into the sea of intimidating underground music. So definitely getting yourself above the rest and able to be seen is the most challenging thing. But that’s not gonna stop me from trying!!
How did you start making music?
Ok, brace yourself. Backstory mode: enabled.
I think my first inspiration to pursue music was my dad, he played guitar and sang and I always really liked it, so I was like “teach me!”, so I learned a few chords, but the spark sort of fizzled out, I wasn’t too bothered. Then a bit later on I had a teacher when I was about 7 or 8 and he showed my class a video of Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi, and as I watched Richie Sambora fly above the stadium crowd while playing the guitar solo, I fell in love. That was the moment when I sort of got into rock music properly, I started listening to the all 80s rock bands like Van Halen, Def Leppard, Guns N’ Roses and stuff like that.
I took piano lessons for a few years, they were alright, but I sort of slowly found my way back into the guitar. Now if I’m going to be completely honest I have no idea how I learned to play the guitar. I learned about 5 chords from my dad as I said, but I didn’t even use online tutorials or anything because I didn’t have a phone or a computer at that time (when I was like 10). I guess I just played whatever and if it sounded cool I wrote it down. I think it’s cooler doing it that way because you get to make your own style as you go. And over the lockdown, it was like paradise for me! I spent all day every day on my guitar, started writing original songs, and learning new things all the time. I never got bored, and I guess that’s how you know you’re meant for something.
I started recording music only about a year ago (May 2021). I had already written about 10-15 songs by then, and with the help of my dad, we recorded a song every weekend until like July. And of course, they were terrible recordings, neither of us really knew what we were doing, but that was the dawn of Ricky Jamaraz. Simple beginnings, you know? Then after a bunch of YouTube research and wise investments and I figured out how to record stuff by myself, and a couple of albums later, here we are!
What do you think will be the future of music artists and creators in general?
Well, I’m no psychic. But the way it’s looking, social media is growing faster than ever, and artists are growing on it faster than ever. More and more you’re starting to see artists hop onto TikTok or make a few Instagram Reels, and it’s blurring the line between musicians and content creators. And I think it’s a great thing, I certainly enjoy video editing and making short 15 second clips every other day, and it’s way more fun than editing a music video every time a song comes out, and I feel like indie artists should get on the trend train if they want to be found in that metaphorical sea of shit music I was on about earlier.
What do you feel sets you apart from other artists?
My one defining feature is my age, for sure. I’m literally 14 years old. Yes, I’m 6”2’, my voice is pretty low, and I act like a 7-year-old, but I’m 14. Pretty much everyone else out there in the music world is either a late teen or adult. I don’t want to come across as arrogant or anything, but I think if people heard one of my songs they wouldn’t believe a kid like me made it. Because everyone else my age is out stealing shopping carts or playing Call of Duty or something, I’m just vibing here getting interviewed about my music. Like I swear Slash (guitarist of Guns N’ Roses) didn’t even start playing guitar till he was 14, and then you look at me the same age and I’m making a name for myself one small step at a time. I love it! I genuinely love my life so much. I really feel lucky to be here, right now, and I know I’ve worked reasonably hard to get here, and I’m proud, man. I’m pretty proud.
Do you think multiple platforms give artists a way of standing out or do they get lost in the crowd of daily releases?
Oh well yeah, multiple platforms is the way to go. Because people are diverse, not everyone uses Spotify and TikTok, and you can get discovered on YouTube for example and then you would have a platform to build off from, and to push them to Spotify and whatnot. I don’t see why people limit themselves by uploading to one or two platforms when you have the potential to be heard elsewhere. Artists shouldn’t be afraid to let the world know they exist. It’s like if you lost your cat, you wouldn’t just put up posters on the lamppost opposite your house, you’d go all along the street, on other streets, hell, I would alert the press and get the whole town searching, you know?
Do you remember any strange or funny incident that happened to you?
Yes, I have the perfect story, its also how I started singing.
So it was my 13th birthday, I got a guitar. Awesome right? It was a Squier Jazzmaster, and I love it to this day. Played my heart out on it. The next day comes around, I head into school, my friend comes to me. “Hey, have you heard the news? Eddie Van Halen died.” And I was broken, dude! Not EVH! He was like a god, gods can’t die! So anyway, I went through the day being sadder than usual and it came to lunchtime. I liked this girl at the time, and she was looking my way. So I thought I’d be really cool and challenge my mate to a race across the playground, but I would run backwards. “Surely she will fall in love with me once she watches me run backwards really fast.” So 15 seconds later, I was on the concrete floor, dazed and confused. I tried to get up, but it couldn’t, I was hurting all over. Turns out I fractured my left wrist, which meant I couldn’t play my brand new birthday guitar for like 5 weeks!! I was well pissed, and I don’t think that girl even asked if I was okay. [cries]
ANYWAY being unable to play guitar meant I had to do something else. So I gave singing a try. It sounded like a strangled goose, but I could work on it. After all, I didn’t want someone else singing songs I wrote. So maybe if I hadn’t broken my wrist from my stupidity, I would never have started singing. I admit I’m still not great, but I promise I was a LOT worse.
Do you play video games? What is your favorite?
Okay yes, when I’m not making music I love playing Minecraft with some of my friends, its really fun. Minecraft is definitely top tier, cool kids only. In fact, in my new song “supercrush” the lyrics go “It’s so hard to flirt when you’re killing random people” which is a reference to me playing a game called Treasure Wars where me and the girl I like kill random people. My mum told me not to say anything on the internet I might regret, but I doubt this girl will ever read this. And if I suddenly disappear, it’s because she’s told me she’s read this.
Tell us about your latest or upcoming release.
Aha, yes! My favourite part: The self-advertisement!! So, on the 27th May, I will be releasing my new single “supercrush”, and omg it’s so good. If you like upbeat energetic indie rock, supercrush is the song for you!! Have you ever heard of a band called Lovejoy? It’s sort of like them, but it has a synth in it, and it’s a bit more pop-y, so it’s the perfect song to kick off the summer months and sunshine times. As always, it was written, recorded, and produced completely by myself in my lovely bedroom, with a healthy dose of low effort and love.