For a little while, Ricky Lake had a fear about working with a music label. Up until this year, the Los Angeles-born, Nashville-bred, Oakland-residing artist was making music solely from his bedroom, cold-emailing YouTube producers for beats and releasing impromptu projects on SoundCloud and Bandcamp. There’s a rigidity associated with labels — contracts, royalties, processes, money.

Ricky, who admitted that part of his creative process sometimes involves being intoxicated, simply thought that wasn’t a world he fit in. But after linking with Text Me Records (“Text Me is about creativity and making what you want to make happen,” he says) the 24-year-old born Marcus McAlpin is dipping his toes into the sticky world of music industry with San Francisco-based imprint as his guiding light.

To start, he’s making the move from being strictly on SoundCloud and Bandcamp (under his former stage name, My Friend Marcus) to Spotify and iTunes with his newest single, “Wino,” off his upcoming project The Mother 966, due next year. A lot of the beats Ricky uses still come from YouTube (even on Mother) but there’s a world of difference between shooting audio files back-and-forth over the Internet and sitting in a studio and creating off of real-life connection: “I really like being in the studio with a producer. They don’t have to be making a beat from scratch… I just like to be there for the process, at least, for us to vibe off each other.”

Read more about (yung) Ricky below and watch out for him to perform in the Bay Area in 2018.

The Bay Bridged: You are currently based in Oakland, but have roots in Los Angeles and Nashville. Does location and place have an impact on your music?

Ricky Lake: I think with influences for me, it’s more about my experiences in those places and not necessarily the music. The lifestyles people had, who I was interacting with, what it looked like, how it was. I kind of just base my influences off of, in terms of place, from experiences I have there, not so much artists there. But that’s changing in Oakland, I’m meeting a lot of these other artists and I’m realizing how influential they are as people. And it’s dope that they’re from the same area I’m living in.

TBB: When did you start taking music seriously?

RL: I started doing music in Tennessee. I had support in terms of friends who were also really trying to explore their own musical endeavors and we were all beginning, so I had that support of atmosphere and we were all doing it. Moving here and immediately meeting people like Taifa that make music, our artistic values just seemed to coincide — The people I met here were really vibing with my music foreal. Folks would hit me up a week later and would want to talk about it, give me props for lines. They were really listening to me and honestly that was the most inspiring thing is that my homies here were paying attention and that got me to be like, “OK, this is foreal then.”

TBB: For a while, you were just making music from your bedroom, using beats off YouTube. How did you get into an actual studio and how is working with a label like Text Me different?

RL: Taifa and I, Malik, Chase and a lot of my friends, still make music on their own but we all created a group called Creative Native that was kind of just a rap thing where we’re just at my old apartment. Taifa is also in a band called OCD, which has recorded at Different Fur and is homies with Pat

[Brown, Text Me founder]. So then Taifa built that relationship for himself and his band and eventually for me too and through him I met everyone here. It’s been really cool, it’s been like let’s get shit done and do this foreal, but it’s also like homies — it’s so much fun. Nothing so far about this experience has made feel down, it’s all just been up.

[Text Me and] Pat’s just dope. He gave me an opportunity. Bottom line, I didn’t even have to think, it was just ‘Yes, I’d love to be part of anything with this studio, especially with Text Me.’ I know that’s Pat’s baby, that’s his thing, so it was really special for him to even come and ask for that to happen. Also it’s just cool to be here with Pat because he’ll tell you the real shit about the papers you gotta sign, the processes, all that industry shit, but then he’ll also be like, ‘Let’s make some slaps.’ Let’s be fun about it. He’s not going to tell you to make any certain type of music, he’s like, ‘Just make what you want to make.’

TBB: Everything seems to happen for you in the moment — forging relationships, meeting the right people to create opportunities. Is any part of what you do calculated?

RL: I’d say it’s all in the moment, but there can be phases. There might be a month where I might be into really intoxicated and then going about making music in a very freestyle, off-the-dome type of way, trying to catch melodies through just singing into a mic, or I’ll record myself humming and it’ll sound ridiculous. I’ll build off that and then go from there. Then there another phase where I’ll hear a beat, hear a melody in my head then I’m writing, verses, choruses, whatever, but I usually start with choruses. It’s really on the mood, the energy.

TBB: For folks unfamiliar with you, what does this next project say about you?

RL: I think this project is a good representation of diversity in my music. It’s not a specifically themed project, there’s no story. The songs are all separate pieces of art to me that are just a collection of what I’ve done and what I’m building towards. It’s hints of what’s to come, just haven’t had the opportunity to show people that, so that’s what’s really what this project is to me. Just a compilation-slash-sneak-peek.