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Songtrust Spotlight: Ricky Montgomery

Ricky Montgomery’s music was ahead of its time—literally. His two once-obscure, yet universal singles – “Line Without A Hook” and “Mr. Loverman” – were suddenly reinvigorated four years after their original release on his 2016 debut album "Montgomery Ricky." Ironically, it came just when he was ready to call it quits on a music career entirely after years of nominal wins. The seemingly impossible—yet somehow inevitable— happened: suddenly people were finding solace in his songs. 

Now, among all the hip-hop hits, the Los Angeles native’s indie-pop has been a balm in the midst of a heavy time, comforting listeners with warm melodies and relatable lyrics. He balances melancholy with a touch of sweet humor and loads of humanity. Now signed to Warner Records, Montgomery’s used that momentum to release a series of emotionally captivating new songs, culminating in the "It’s 2016 Somewhere" EP and much more music to come in 2022 and beyond. “I just want to create something that can feel as special for other people as it is to me,” he says.

While you're at it, check out Ricky Montgomery's new official video for "Settle Down," out now. 


 WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MUSIC?

I don’t really think there was ever any particular thing that inspired me to start making music. It’s always been a part of me. When I was a kid, I would walk around writing little songs in my head without even thinking about it. It could be torturous occasionally. I think I started writing songs mostly so I had somewhere to put all of my loose musical ideas or general life thoughts. It’s been a cathartic practice for me since day one.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND STYLE AS AN ARTIST?

I guess it’s all some kind of Pop in the end. I like writing catchy songs with patterned structures and have a hard time finding interest in anything linear. I like to release my pent-up emotions on stage, it’s my moment to be bombastic.

As for my philosophy and style, my only philosophy is that I want to tell the truth in my songs to the best of my ability. Whatever that means at the moment. It’s a guiding principle for me. I like to keep things abstract because my thoughts are that way. Lots of little thoughts and ideas coalesce together to form a broader image. They’re never about one thing (even when I want them to be). My songs are little thought-mosaics.

WHAT DRIVES YOU TO CREATE, AND HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOURSELF IN MUSIC? 

Release. Any pestering thought stuck in my head comes out in the music whether I want it to or not, so I try not to fight that impulse. Success for me isn’t much more than being happy with what I’m making. I want it to be about participation in the practice of making art. If I’m in the culture and part of the exchange of ideas, that’s most of what I need to be happy. 

THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHO HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WITH DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT? 

Mentors have been pivotal to my success. Anybody who knows more about something than I do who’s generous enough to share some of that knowledge with me. Bosses, collaborators, producers, teachers. Loved ones, girlfriends, friends. Anybody around me who cares enough to be around for more than a couple of days.  

SOMETIMES BEING IN THIS BUSINESS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE AND NOT SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF?

Haha. Not really! I just try to take everything a day at a time and measure my success in long chunks of time rather than small ones. It’s better to think about how far you’ve come in 10 years than it is to worry about whether or not your TikTok traffic is as hot as it was last week.

THE WORLD IS SEEMINGLY AN OYSTER FOR SO MANY ARTISTS THESE DAYS IN THAT THE OPPORTUNITY TO GET YOUR MUSIC IN FRONT OF YOUR FANS AND THE COMMUNITY YOU'VE BUILT IS SO MUCH EASIER THAN DECADES AGO. WITH SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS POPPING UP LEFT AND RIGHT, A QUARANTINE THAT REINVIGORATED THE WORLD OF LIVE STREAMING, WHILE SLOWLY RETURNING TO IN-PERSON EVENTS, THE POSSIBILITIES CAN ALSO SEEM DAUNTING TO SOME CREATORS. HOW HAVE YOU LEVERAGED THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR THE BENEFIT OF YOUR MUSIC, IF AT ALL, AND WHAT, IF ANYTHING, HAS CHANGED ABOUT THE WAY YOU APPROACH RELEASING NEW MUSIC?

I think this question is geared toward people who didn’t find their start on social media. For me, this is all I’ve ever known. I’ve been uploading videos to the internet for as long as I’ve been playing shows (which, for me, was around age 14). The only thing that’s changed for me is that I’ve become a lot more active on TikTok. Which EVERY artist should be doing if they want to see growth. 

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG MUSICIANS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS, BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?

Be patient, and be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that this is going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done - maybe will ever do - and treat it that way. You’re the only one who can make yourself successful in the end, whether you’re a broke teenager or an industry plant. It all comes from inside you at the end of the day.  

WHAT MOTTO, AFFIRMATION, OR QUOTE EMPOWERS, INSPIRES, OR MOTIVATES YOU?

“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” 

I somehow didn’t hear it until I was 26, and now it’s a cliche because I think about it so much.  

FOR FUN, IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND AND COULD ONLY HAVE (3) ITEMS WITH YOU, WHAT WOULD YOU BRING?

A guitar, a piano, and a drum set. Maybe then I’d finally get my album done.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP NEXT? 

Touring and recording, and then touring, and then recording. And then again!  

HOW DID YOU COME TO SONGTRUST?

My friend Emma Hanson used to work for Songtrust and helped me get started. I had no idea what publishing was at the time, and I still barely understand how it works. It’s been super helpful to get my start in the world of publishing as an independent creator, learning at my own pace without the worry of getting ripped off at any point along the way. And let me also say: it REALLY helped me to be independent when my songs blew up on TikTok. It pays to do it solo!

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