Interviews / Musicians

Balancing the Grind With Baltimore-based Boyband Ricky

Ricky is a Baltimore based boyband that blends influences of rap, pop, and r&b, made up of members: Brent From School, GrayPex, Keichainz, Danny Lions, and Jarett Loeffler.

Photo by: Jarett Loeffler

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your music career to date?

Before we get started we want to introduce ourselves. Our name is Ricky: Brent From School, GrayPex, Keichainz, Danny Lions, and Jarett Loeffler. We’re a rap group / boy band from Baltimore, Maryland, USA!

Ricky formed in early 2018 after making music together during hang out sessions at Keichainz and Brent’s apartment. Our first official single “IDRFWY” dropped on October 16th, 2018. After releasing a few more singles and music videos, we premiered our debut project BadSounds, Vol. 1 on October 16th, 2019.

We also own RICKYBADSOUNDS, LLC, and use that platform to promote artists and distribute their music. Currently the artists we have partnered with are Nan-Ana, and Bobenshi Bobsled. Check both of them out on our website!

2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you as an independent musician? Can you take us through a recent day?

There are five of us, so we’re all on different schedules. On a typical day when we’re done at work or don’t have any prior commitments, we are hanging out at our home base in Baltimore.

Brent is either making a beat, playing an instrumental on a loop for the rest of us to write to, or recording and mixing our songs. Jarett Loeffler, band member and head of Ricky multi-media, is at his desk working on the next visual of some sort. Keichainz, GrayPex, and Danny might be updating our Ricky social media accounts.

We all stay busy in our own ways and play a part to make this come to life!

3) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

It has been essential for us as a band to have a group chat going when we aren’t together. Text and Snapchat (for some reason). That way we are all on the same page and info is always passed along. Plus it’s a great space to share memes. We also use Google Drive for keeping our work-in-progress songs in one place, photos, videos, and more.

4) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?

Balance kind of comes naturally for us. There are definitely times that we overwork ourselves. We have experienced many sleepless nights to meet a deadline for a release or whatnot.

The first time we made band T-Shirts we screen printed them ourselves and did custom colors for each person who ordered that option. It took so many days and nights of little-to-no sleep, but it was worth it and we are very grateful.

Alone time is important to each of us. Some of us have significant others we like to spend time with. Friends are always over hanging out, sometimes even during recording sessions. We love watching YouTube videos, playing video games, and eating snacks (shout-out to Royal Farms). We make sure to spend time with family as well.

I guess what we are saying is, there isn’t a set schedule of “Okay, we have to do this, this, and this, at a certain time and be done by (X) o’ clock to…” We do what feels right and respect each other’s individual needs. But when we’re on a strict time crunch we definitely make sure our hang out sessions are more focused.

5) What does work life balance mean to you?

Brent From School: Work-life balance means I work until life gets in the way. I love working on music and creative things. Everything else is just a means to allow me to continue creating the way I love to! That being said, it is good to put focus into other things as to not burn out.

GrayPex: Work life balance, to me, means that you work just enough for it to not actually feel like work. I love music with all my heart and make sure to either write, concept, or do something involving music everyday. But if it begins to feel like I’m forcing myself to do it then I take a step back and dive into some of the other things I enjoy or also need to get done in life,

Keichainz: It means not being mentally and physically drained in order to be clear minded and ready to get things done!

Danny Lions: To me it means I have achieved peace of mind knowing that I am balancing all these responsibilities. Knowing that I am doing what I love doing with my best friends, and still maintaining some source of income as well as getting assignments for class completed. To me when I’m managing to excel at any of this I feel as though I’ve achieved a state of nirvana.

Jarett Loeffler: A balance between life, work, and personal aspirations is something I always struggle with. But the truth is if we all keep making time for the things we love, one day those things will be our job. Then life will be a lot easier to manage. If you love something, you’ll find a way to make time for it.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

Brent From School: A good habit I’ve developed over the years is being experimental but allowing myself to put things down when an idea isn’t catching traction. Starting something new, or working on a project I’ve already started and sticking with ideas that have good momentum behind them. In terms of habits regarding work-life balance, it’s good to be flexible for when I’m feeling creative or productive and not trying to force anything. Know it’s okay to not be constantly working.

GrayPex: I’d say I have absolutely developed a habit of constantly consuming new sh*t! Whether it be my friends, other local artists, or just new artists of all disciplines it helps me to stay inspired and keep pushing forward. Constantly seeing the things my peers are coming up with helps me to stay focused.

Keichainz: Social media is for sure a habit of mine. However, I view it as more of a tool for success rather than an issue like one might think. I’m on social media frequently enough (on my personals and on the Ricky accounts) that I’m able to respond to anybody who might leave a comment or tag us in a Tweet or IG Story. I think fan interaction is crucial.

Plus having a consistent and solid online presence. As far as balance, a habit I’ve picked up is making sure to spend a few minutes every night before bed listening to music or relaxing sounds. That’s like meditation for me to decompress and get good sleep to be successful the next day.

Danny Lions: Some good habits I’ve developed is trying to give myself an agenda because I’ve really struggled with time management in the past. I have time sectioned out for classes and then my part time job at a bagel shop, and occasionally (very occasionally) time for running or some type of exercise.

Anytime I have a gap between classes I’ll just run out to my car and start listening to music to get my brain in a flow, and then start freestyling to any beats Brent may have made for us. I take what I’ve kinda freestyled and refine it at 301 (Ricky HQ) and record.

My favorite time to schedule for is being with some of the best people on this earth making music. It’s so much fun and we always have a laugh. It allows me to feel like I’m doing something right with my life.

Jarett Loeffler: For me, I always remind myself that there is no such thing as a good excuse. You can always make excuses for why you shouldn’t do something. It’s so easy to say “I’m tired I’ll do it tomorrow” or whatever it may be. Reminding myself that successful people don’t make excuses always pushes me to keep going.

7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

We are each going to try to give you a book or two. Some of us don’t really read books often so bare with us on our answers.

Brent From School: The book Modern Recording Techniques that’s propping up my right speaker to help my speakers be on the same level for the stereo field (that I’ve never read). Also Ducky Pals, the book. My favorite part is where Squeaky, one of the duck characters slips on the ice.

GrayPex: I read Gucci Mane’s autobiography and that was really eye-opening. I was aware of the struggles he came from, but to get a first hand account of the tribulations it took to get to where he is now, even after being famous, put a lot into perspective. Don’t let anything that you may have going on stop you. Recognize it, work through it, and move on.

Keichainz: I don’t really read books, but I consume content every day such as articles and videos. Gary Vaynerchuk is somebody who has helped me a lot with my outlook on the world; specifically helping me in business and marketing. From time to time I also enjoy reading the daily devotional book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young to help improve my spiritual life.

Danny Lions: There are some books I’ve enjoyed reading. One of my favorite stories, and it’s fairly short, is Lost Horizon. The story is about some people from various backgrounds who get on a plane that is hijacked and crash on Everest and are taken to a secret ancient city known as Shangri-La by James Hilton (1933) While there the characters marvel at the hidden paradise.

It’s a great book and I enjoy fantasizing about finding my own “Shangri-La” in day to day life. Sometimes it’s at home when I’m working or doing chores and other times it’s at 301 with the guys doing what we love.

For when I’m feeling a little more violence I enjoy reading and looking at the art in a manga titled Lone Wolf & Cub by Kazuo Koike (writer) & Goseki Kojima (illustrator/Artist) (1970). It’s a great story of vengeance, redemption and blood lust for those that killed the protagonist’s family.

Jarett Loeffler: The last book I read was Marina Abramovic’s autobiography, which I loved. I try not to “look up” to a lot of people, but she is someone who absolutely inspires me. THE goat.

8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Brent From School: “Wake up, get up.” – Danny Lions

GrayPex: Not gonna lie, my number one thing is to smoke at least one joint a day. Other than that, drink water. You can’t accomplish anything if you’re dehydrated.

Keichainz: Don’t overthink sh*t (shout-out to Kenny Beats) and don’t spend too much time on any specific thing. Switch it up and take breaks!

Danny Lions: Going to 301 and making music with the guys until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer is definitely a sure sign to me that my day was well spent. If I can make someone laugh or have a long conversation with my buddies brings me a good sense of completion. Also if I can learn at least one new thing about anything or anyone.

Jarett Loeffler: Making list! If you make a list of everything you want to accomplish in a day, you’ll feel obligated to check those boxes and get things done. This interview was on my list of things to do today!

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

This is said often but it’s so true: do what you love to do. Sometimes what you have to do to be financially stable isn’t your dream job. However, make sure the rest of your time is spent working towards a goal or dream you have for yourself. Make sure you’re having fun and surrounding yourself with good company. Know your limits. Also, freakin’ believe in yourself!

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.