Ricky Manning is a seasoned vocalist living in Los Angeles, CA. After becoming a finalist on NBC’s “The Voice” back in 2014, the young artist continues to take his talent to new heights. Earlier this month, Ricky released his newest single entitled “LA is Lonely” on all major platforms. While the track focuses on the continuous artistic plights we tend to hear about in LA, the beautiful chords and acoustic riffs touch deep down in the soul. We had the chance to catch up with Ricky and talk more about his current life as an artist out in the Golden State, as well as find out more about his past progression through the times.
There are two things that we have in common right off the bat. For one, we share the same birthday (December 28), and we both have a connection with Jersey City. Can you tell us what brought you out to JC and what your experience was like during that part of your life?
No way! So you get the line, “This is for Christmas AND your birthday!” What a rip off! [laughs]
I moved out to Jersey City a few months after I graduated high school. I knew I didn’t want to go to college, and my dad lived in JC so I figured, ‘Well that’s pretty close to New York- I’ll just move there and pursue music!’ I landed a job at Hollister in Newport Mall, and during my downtime was writing and playing at open mics. I got a bad check from Hollister one day, and decided to try busking at the 33rd Street Path Station in NY- that was my spot. I had my share of run-ins with metro police but the majority of the time it was cool. I made $110 in 3 hours one time, but it was Valentine’s Day so I think people just felt bad for me. A few months later there was an open call for ‘The Voice’ in Philly, and the rest is history!
Being one of the first vocalists featured on CUTS for your song “Stop Sign” back in 2015, it is a pleasure to have you back. What have you been up to since our last rendezvous?
Thank you so much for that! It was my first little write up for an original song, so it’s nice to be back! Since then I have been focusing on writing music and just surviving LA. I have a day job to keep myself afloat, so that takes up some time, but when I’m not there I am writing and singing. There’s been small auditions here and there for TV shows such as Glee, and a few pilots that never got the green light as well. I also auditioned for Hairspray Live, but didn’t get the call unfortunately. Over the past few years I have started writing for other artists as well, so in 2018, I should have some cuts on at least one or two albums outside of my own material.
After catching the ears of Blake Shelton and Pharrell during the blind audition for NBC’s ‘The Voice’, you opted to be a part of Pharrell’s team. What was it like being under such a sharp musical mind like Pharrell?
Pharrell was really great. He gave me some advice that I still carry today, and I will never forget the experience I had with him and the show. I hope I’ll be able to work with him in a more natural, organic setting some day.
Singers, in particular, usually have a very unique outlook on pain and love. In this regard, what drives you to be the singer/songwriter that you are today?
I think what drives me as a singer/songwriter is the fact that this really is my one main outlet for feelings such as pain or love. When I feel something, anything, I want to write about it and I want to sing about it. It’s less of a conscious choice to sit and write, and more of an urge or burning to get the feelings out into lyrics. If I am feeling sad or lonely, a line or phrase will usually pop into my head, and I’ll write a whole song based on that line or phrase. My first single, “LA Is Lonely”, happened that way.
Can you tell us more about ‘LA is Lonely’?
Well, I wrote this song by myself in my apartment one night after work. The problem was, none of my friends around that time wanted to help me with my music because I didn’t have anything going on for me then. I felt abandoned and discouraged, so naturally, I wanted to write. I had a note in my phone that simply said “la is lonely” from a few days prior, and I just started singing. The verse flew out, and the pre-chorus and chorus followed. I wrote the whole song in about an hour, maybe two. It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve written, and I’m happy to have it as my first official single.
If there was one piece of advice you would give to aspiring musicians and artists, what would it be?
One piece of advice I would give to any aspiring musicians and artists would be the same advice I constantly have to give myself; stick to what feels like you, and stick to what you LOVE. I have been pushed and pulled in many different musical directions. But I decided to put my foot down and make music that feels like me, and music that I LOVE. You can’t fully support something you don’t agree with wholeheartedly, and good music will find its place, so you won’t have to make it to fit.
What can we expect from Ricky Manning in the near future?
You can expect at LEAST two more singles by mid January, and in February or March of 2018, my first EP! I will continue making music that I would like to listen to and music that I love, and I hope my fans do too. It will always be honest, and it will always be me!