DIY Musician Ricky Jamaraz Tells Us How He Transported His Music From His Bedroom to 166 Countries

Words: Gemma Cockrell
Photos: Ricky Jamaraz
Friday 19 January 2024
reading time: min, words

In 2023, Ricky Jamaraz’s music was streamed from 166 different countries, 5.4 million times on Spotify. To put this into perspective, this length of time equates to 29 years, which is roughly how long it would take to walk from the Earth to the Moon three times. Ricky’s jaw fell off when he saw these figures and it’s no surprise - he’s only sixteen years old, still attends school, and makes all of his music from his very own childhood bedroom. We spoke to the DIY musician about how he went about transporting his music from his bedroom to the world…


When listening to Ricky Jamaraz’s music, and looking at the sheer volume of music he released in 2023, you may automatically assume that music is his full-time job. But I am quickly reminded that this is not the case when he tells me he was on a school trip down to the Tate Modern in London the day prior to our phone call, and that he will be sitting his GCSE exams next summer. “I do try my best to do well in school and stuff, but it's just like I’ve got bigger fish to fry,” he laughs. “Music is like the leader for me, but I try to maintain a good education as well.”

It’s no surprise that his focus lies on his music when you take a glance at his streaming figures, but he remains grounded and unphased by these. “Even back in 2021, I got around 450 streams in the whole year, and I was like, ‘Whoa, look at me go’. It's still the same feeling, I suppose it's just bigger numbers. A lot of people say they don't really care about the numbers, but I genuinely don't. David Bowie said something like, ‘the day you start creating to please others is the day you make your worst work’ and I agree with that. I would still be happy creating music, even if only two people were listening.”

Hearing Ricky’s response to losing all of his Instagram followers last year as a result of his account being hacked proves that he is telling the truth here. “It was a sign,” he says. “I'm so glad it did. I had over 100,000 followers on TikTok but I ended up scrapping that account and starting again. For a month after Microwave blew up it became so annoying, because barely any of my followers cared about what I was doing, so I made a new account and told people to follow it if they were actually interested in what I was doing moving forward. That filtered out the people who didn’t really care, so I think it was quite a clever thing to do. My Instagram getting hacked was just the universe doing that for me.”

So, it seems that the Ricky Jamaraz from 2021 is vastly similar to the one on the other end of the line right now at the end of 2023. “In 2021, I started putting music on YouTube and a couple of my friends said, ‘Oh, this sounds pretty cool. Could you put it on Spotify?’” Influenced by lockdown, Ricky was operating entirely out of his bedroom - the same place that he creates his albums from to this very day. “It's brilliant. It's so beautiful,” he says of the process of making a Ricky Jamaraz album. “I love every part of what I do. I sort of zone out when I do it. It's like clockwork.” 

Many people may view Ricky as a prodigy from these remarks, but he doesn’t believe that’s true. “I taught myself guitar and how to write songs in lockdown, and I've gotten better at it over time. I'm not born with some sort of talent. No one will ever hear the voice recordings of me from lockdown - they sound like a goose being strangled! But doing it a lot makes you better at it. I’m just lucky I have the motivation to do it as much as I do. It’s like free therapy for me.” He isn’t exaggerating here when he says he does it a lot - as I speak to him, his third album of 2023, titled Dec. 13th 1998, is about to be released, following Worst Album Ever, which was released in August, and Honestly?, which followed a mere few weeks later. 

“That was the one that required the most amount of work,” Ricky says of Worst Album Ever. “I started working on it in December 2022, so it took a long time to do, because for the first half of 2023 I was in a bad place. The whole ‘Ricky Jamaraz show’ thing started with the track Starry Eyes, and then I thought, ‘How cool would it be if I sort of made the whole album like this?’ - a concept album, I guess.”

His following album Honestly? takes a more raw and emotion-driven approach. “That album was a mood board for how I was feeling for that first half of 2023. I just had to get that out. I knew some people might benefit from it, so they know they’re not alone.” Rather than announcing the album in advance, Ricky released it with no prior promotion or marketing. “I didn’t intend for it to perform well - that’s never the goal for my music. It was just me getting stuff out of my head. Since making it, it’s had a sort of magical healing effect. It was deliberately raw-sounding, almost as if it was recorded on a cassette or something, even though it was recorded digitally.”

In contrast, Dec. 13th 1998 is another thought-out concept record, based on a story that Ricky wrote during a sleepless night. “It's a story about a guy who runs away and moves to a city, doesn’t fit in, then finally finds some friends and falls in love with another guy. Then they die together, in short!” Ricky recommends that people listen to the album chronologically, since the lyrics of each song intertwine with one another, fitting together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

With his creative process meaning that he has full control over every aspect of his music, Ricky admits that he may be a bit of a control freak. “That's why I do it all by myself - I record everything myself, I produce it all myself, I don't really collaborate with anyone. I don’t mean to sound arrogant when I say this, but I'm really particular with how I want things to sound. So, I’d rather learn how to do it myself, then I know how to translate my own thoughts into my music.”

After releasing three albums in the space of five months, you may be wondering if Ricky is planning on taking a break anytime soon, but he shows no plans of slowing down. “There will be some sort of album in 2024, because I've got albums worth of songs just lying around, waiting to be recorded.” 

One thing he does have set in stone for this year is that he will be experimenting with some new analogue gear. “I invested in a four track cassette recorder. I want to travel back in time and see what I can do with less advanced gear - you've only got four tracks to play with, so you've got to really think about what you're going to do. So, I think that'll be quite an interesting adventure that I'm going to embark on - a new quest for Ricky Jamaraz.”

Worst Album Ever, Honestly?, and Dec. 13th 1998 can be found on all good streaming services


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