• Donella Lalas


By: Donella Lalas

Editor: Mia Amaranto

It was 4 p.m. and the sun was beating down on Ricky Rath as he stepped onto a stage for the first time as DJ R-Squared. Nerves ran through him as he nearly tripped over wires getting to the plastic DJ table that was too low for his height as he prepared to open for WWU’s music festival, Lawnstock 2017.

“I just remember grabbing that mic and looking out into the crowd at a dozen or so of my friends looking up at me, cheering and that made me feel so much better and relaxed,” he said.

Lawnstock 2017 may have been Ricky’s first performance on a stage as DJ R-Squared, but his first real debut as a DJ was in his own apartment with a dozen of his close friends.

“Even then I was nervous,” he said. “I was nervous because I was doing something new and presenting it.”

Although Ricky’s DJ days didn’t officially start until college, it did spark his interest starting in 2014 during his senior year of high school. As ASB Vice President, Ricky asked if he could play music at lunch during spirit week because he didn’t like the music already being played.

It was on and off DJing from there until Ricky got to Western Washington University where he discovered opportunities to DJ at college parties.

“It was like a new door opening for me,” he said. “I started doing it more often because of the opportunities that were around me.”

Ricky’s inspiration to DJ didn’t only come from not liking the music played during high school lunch, but mostly from trap and bass music producer RL Grime.

“It was his hip hop inspiration, that fusion he has, that really drew me in because I was heavily into hip hop at the time,” Ricky said.

After watching a video of RL Grime’s live set production at EDC and seeing the crowd’s reaction, Ricky knew he wanted to feel that same rush of adrenaline in performing for an audience.

Since Lawnstock 2017, Ricky has gone to perform for numerous crowds in different settings and that remains to be one of his favorite parts. Sharing music in a live setting and seeing strangers come together, singing along to songs they know is why he loves what he does.

“Another aspect of DJing I love is the adrenaline of getting on stage,” he said. “I feel like I’m a whole different human than Ricky Rath.”

Though he’s got quite a few shows under his belt, Ricky continues to evolve his sound based on what he’s been listening to and by catering to what he feels the crowd would enjoy. Overall, his sound consists of bass music from trap to dubstep to future bass to bass house.

Still with each show, Ricky tries to give a whole new experience.

“I don’t want people to know what to expect when they see me,” he said. “I want them to feel surprised each time.”

And that was exactly what he did when he returned for his third year to Lawnstock 2019. Ricky went from creating a set everyone could dance to for Lawnstock 2018 to a set with softer music that tugged at the heartstrings for his farewell performance.

“It fit the mood of everyone there and how I felt leaving Western and this platform where I got to perform for three years,” he said. “It celebrated the fact that this was where R-Squared was made and where R-Squared was heading out also as a student.”

Besides Lawnstock and parties, much of Ricky’s experiences have come from the connections he’s made with other DJs in the Bellingham area. Until he met William Zayas (Trillivm) Ricky hadn’t performed at any clubs or bars.

Through working with and meeting other DJs, Ricky realized that they should support one another and help each other gain opportunities to showcase their talents.

“It has shaped me to be more of a community driven artist, and that's what you see with R-Squared and Friends,” he said.

Beyond R-Squared and Friends, Ricky is also working on producing his first original and plans to release monthly mixes on SoundCloud for his listeners as well as picking up shows wherever he goes.

Now, with R-Squared and Friends just days away, Ricky has been preparing for his most significant live set yet.

“I want [the crowd] to experience something like no other,” he said. For a lot of people this is their first time seeing me and I want to give them an experience they’ll never forget. Through that, this set will be interwoven and connected through sampling of a documentary about Cambodian-American struggles since they've settled in America. Using my platform to showcase what's going on in my community and tying it together to music is what I’m planning to do this Friday at The Vera Project.”

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