We’re in their “gypsy house,” somewhere in Atlanta, which also serves as the live-in workspace for the Five Points Music Group. Naturally, there’s recording equipment everywhere, and Ricky is sitting in the midst of it all strumming his guitar, Lucy. Malia, the tattoo artist at City of Ink, switches between checking her phone, organizing some of her sketches and packing copies of Ricky’s first solo album, Dick Brown’s Tall Tails of Foxy Cottontail, into plastic sleeves.
They’ve been dubbed the ATL’s Bob and Rita or John and Yoko. As Ricky said, almost seven years ago, the up and coming Atlanta musician was in the city’s famous Apache Café when he spotted a bartender, Malia. The latter played hard to get until Ricky suggested they “share a smoke,” and well that’s how Harry met Sally. The end.
Well, not quite.
Before they became arguably the ATL’s coolest couple, and along with their daughters, Ruby and Anabelle, hailed as, “the cutest family ever,” on Instagram, Ricky and Malia went through the break ups and make ups that befall many relationships.
Here is their story.
Was this love at first sight or did that develop over time?
Ricky: Man, I was in a portal, a full blown portal. It could have been a love portal, but all I know is I had never felt or experienced anything like it before. When she was here, she was staying on Donald Lee Hollowell. Right around that time I was working with The Shop Boyz. She got pregnant with Ruby and it was like doing music and having a baby sometimes it can be a difficult thing, so we went south. The love over the years just kept building like I was missing something and that was her and my child.
Malia: Yea, we had four years apart from each other. The first time we made love, we made Ruby. A week before she was born, I left and we didn’t see each other for four years and then later on we saw each other and I feel like that’s when the real magic happened.
Where did you go? Colorado.
So then you guys were never completely cut off from each other?
Ricky: We stayed in communication. As far as the reunion, she hadn’t moved down here yet and I had only gone up there to visit. It was like, we always knew what we felt, and it was just a matter of us jelling again.
So what made y’all decide to want to be in the same physical space again?
Ricky: I became a man, and I went to Colorado. I had never been to Colorado before she left. I didn’t chase after her, even though she gave me an invitation to come with her. I just kind of man’d up and went to go see them. Even though she was in another place and time in her life, the connection was instantly there when we saw each other.
When you reconnected you were both more established. Did you start to see each other differently?
Ricky: It kind of goes hand in hand now. Before I didn’t really know what I had. I didn’t know it was love until it was gone.
Malia: We were both newer at what we were doing. I was painting, but it was really a lot more amateur. He was making music, and not to say it was amateur, but it was amateur compared to what it is now.
Ricky: Man my ego was THIS big then. Terrible person, I was a horrible person (laughs).
Malia: No, he wasn’t a horrible person.
You’re both finding success in Atlanta and I feel like you two push and inspire each other creatively…
Malia: It’s so cool. He did the album and I did the cover art for it. We sit there and vibe every single day and create together…
Ricky: …bounce ideas off of each other. A lot of things I’m learning like Sega geometry to like metaphysical stuff, she’s right there with me. We’re just being inspired by all of these things…
Malia: …and curious of all the things that are out there. I think that’s most people’s problem in life is that they’re not that curious and we’re both really curious, so it’s fun to kind of figure things out together.
And so what does it mean to be a “gypsy family?”
Ricky: I wish I was like Poppa Neutrino in the movie, “Random Lunacy.” That guy – he’s the number one gypsy.
Malia: Gypsy, I think is being independent of the government’s brainwashing and protecting your children from the government’s brainwashing and raising them to not be stuck on whatever they say is right. There’s so much out there that they’re not exposing us to, so how will you know what’s there for you? Trying to expose our kids to as much as humanly possible I think is really important.
Ricky: Without stifling their creativity.
How much easier is it for you guys to create with the family unit back together?
Ricky: Man the love is definitely easier…
Malia: …it makes all of the other life flows a lot easier when you have somebody to love and to be there by your side.
Ricky: When you’re in this industry by yourself, you come across this girl, you come across that girl. You never really know who wants you for you. You never know when you’re coming across a true person and then you meet one and it’s like, “Oh, I can’t let this person go.”
What’s the biggest lesson you want your children to learn from their parents?
Ricky: I just want to make sure that by the time my daughter’s an adult she doesn’t have to go through the struggles that we have to go through. We were talking about this last night, and that’s a legacy of compassion. I feel like the world needs more compassion.
Malia: We’re in the middle of a war that’s been going on for like 12 years now and nobody even cares. We joke about it, but those are peoples’ families that are dying out there. We need to be compassionate as a people towards all other earthlings because we’re all going through it. They came over here and killed off all the Native Americans and there was no compassion there and we need to stop because we’re repeating history. I’d like to teach my children that and freedom of the government and freedom of the establishment. I don’t want them to be squares; I want my children to be completely out there just like their parents and their parents before that.
What can we learn from the story of Ricky and Malia?
Malia: Be compassionate and understanding of each other and support each other. Life is really hard and when you have somebody there to support you, that’s what love is all about, being there for each other.
Ricky: When you can believe in yourself it’s one thing, but when you can believe in someone else and then that in return turns into y’all believing in each other, it becomes something so powerful. There’s nothing I can say that can explain that.
Photography by Kelsey Ryan