Dustin Ransom / by E

Photo Credit Jon Karr

Photo Credit Jon Karr

What first got you interested in music?

Dustin Ransom: Oh, gosh, I mean, I don't really have a conscious memory of not being interested in music. I started taking piano lessons when I was three, and I'd been playing so much Nintendo at that point - this was the late '80s - that my mom thought that the coordination I had could be put to better use and so she put me in piano lessons. But, honestly, the first real exposure I had to music was watching videos of Elvis Presley, and so those two things kind of helped keep it going as I got older and more interested in other artists and

Which artists do you take inspiration from?

[Laughs] A lot. The Beatles, U2, The Police, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, Death Cab for Cutie, Sigur Rós, D'Angelo, Al Green, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder; there's a whole list of them, I could go on and on. 

What type of tracks are in your playlist now?

Oh man, it's all over the place. I've been listening to a lot of Pearl Jam lately. I kind of have this collection of bands in the back of my mind that I've always loved but I've just never taken the time to dig into, so they're kind of on the palate right now. But besides that, I've been listening to Tupac, the Bad era of Michael Jackson; it's all over the place, it kind of changes on a daily basis.

Having worked with other acts in Nashville, what made you decide to go solo?

I guess in the back of my mind. I've always wanted to do this.  I've always had these visions of grandeur: being the guy up front and leading the band or being the frontman, or whatever you want to call it.  I've been in Nashville, Tennessee for ten years and I've done everything; I've been a session musician, a touring musician, a producer, an engineer, a mixer, a songwriter, a film composer, I've written out musical notations for magazines and have arranged orchestral scores and things like that - a lot of stuff. I think I just got to the point where I kind of got tired of giving away all my good ideas to other people and I just wanted to do it. Why not? I just didn't want to be afraid of putting myself out there in that way, rather than self-consciously hiding behind an artist or another producer or something like that.  I just wanted to make a statement now, and hopefully make some good statements later on.

How would you describe your sound?

If I could boil it down, I would say that everything is very groove-oriented. I'm a huge, huge fan of classic funk and soul and RnB and hip hop and I just love when things really feel good.  They make you bop your head, they make you want to dance, they make you want to get up. On top of that, I think my voice also brings the sound together because, like I said, having done a lot of different things as a musician, I've just got, like a huge palate of musical tastes to pull from and I love those things all equally.  So, I would say, to define my sound really kind of comes down to just the groove and my voice, as well as the musicianship being on par - I have a high standard of it because I usually play everything on all the recordings I do.

You just released a video for your track "Our American Way," what was the inspiration behind that song?

In that song, each verse is a little short story, based upon three people who will go unnamed, but they're real people and, basically, how they're used their platform for more destructive purposes than good purposes it seems.  It’s really an overall critique to just state that if you're put in a position of power and influence, you have a responsibility to use it for good and not bad. Because of that position, you can do a lot of damage or you can do a lot of really amazing things for people in the blink of an eye or in speaking even one or two sentences. That song is really just about taking responsibility.

How would you sum up your EP, Thread On Fire, in one sentence?

I would say it's the truest representation of who I am as an individual in a musical setting that I've been a part of so far.

Do you have a favorite track from Thread On Fire?

Man, that's hard. I would have to say "Dig" which is the fourth track on the EP, which is also the single from the EP.  In many ways, it encapsulates what I said about my one sentence response to the record. It's got really deep grooves, it's really sonically interesting, I really wanted my musicianship to be shown off on that track, and lyrically and emotionally it's coming from a very raw and transparent place.

What do you hope listeners are able to take from your music?

I hope it provokes them into thinking about things from a very open-minded, wide ranging view in regards to different topics, whether that's love or politics or relationships  Honesty, those are kind of the three big topics that I tend to lean toward.   I just want people to treat each other well, whether that's a husband to a wife, a partner to another partner, religion to religion, country to country, nation to nation, continent to continent, so on and so forth.  We're obviously in a very volatile state right now with everything that's going on in the world, and that's really been at the forefront of my mind,  so I hope that my music can inspire whoever listens to it by challenging them to really do something for the greater good.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Thread On Fire is available for free on noisetrade.com/dustinransom  and once that EP reaches a total of  2,500 downloads on Noisetrade, I have another EP that is, essentially, about 60-70% done that I'll release once we've reached that goal. But, I will also say too, and this is just a very recent development, that there's a lot of - kind of like what I alluded to a second ago - there's a lot of obviously really intense events happening in our world right now and it's hard for me to just kind of keep saying, 'oh, you know, I have a lot of things I want to say but I can't do it until I reach this goal,' but I finally just kind of said, 'well, screw that, I'm going to put something out' [laughs]. I'm actually going to start recording a collection of songs that really just speaks into, at least, one part of a major part of what's going on in our world today, especially when it comes to America's economic disparity between the rich and the poor, as well as the onslaught of violence we’ve seen flare up with ISIS, Boko Haram, and so on.  That's kind of where I'm going to be headed here soon. It’ll be out hopefully sooner than later.

Photo credit Macey Leslie

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