Ransom FA is a grime artist from Aberdeen who has recently released an EP titled Sounds of the North. He also happens to be my younger brother, so his journey from spitting bars over instrumentals to playing in venues for his fans is one that I have been able to observe throughout the years.
Ransom has been involved in the scene for a number of years now, however 2016 stands out as a particularly impressive year for him. He was the first Scottish artist to be announced as part of the Eskimo Dance in Glasgow’s line up, was featured on Risky Roads to represent Scotland with fellow Aberdeen based Gidd Gamz, and was also the first Scottish artist to be featured on SBTV with his single “Wake Up” featuring Paisley’s Shogun – a viral success in his own right.
Couple these triumphs with feats like supporting Wu Tang veteran Ghostface Killahit is easy to see how it has been a big year for Ransom in which his hard work has paid off. I got in touch with Ransom to discuss the year that he has had, as well as some fundamental questions about what made Grime appealing to him, as well as finding out how he first got into the music.
“Grime really appealed to me because it had a unique sound, which I felt I could relate to”
What got you into grime?
You actually got me into Grime, well not primarily but a lot of the time I’d listen to the songs that you had on Bearshare. I remember hearing songs from Bearman and Nu Brand Flexx. Grime really appealed to me because it had a unique sound I felt was relatable. Although Grime originated in London the MCs still talked about things anyone in the UK would see growing up in their city.
However I wouldn’t describe myself as only a Grime artist because a lot of the content I have on my computer would be Trap and New School RnB. I sometimes like to call it Rhtyhm and Grime (laughs) but I mainly make Grime music because it’s the voice of the UK.
You were the first Scottish MC to be announced on the Eskimo Dance Line up a few months ago. That must have made you feel proud?
I can’t lie man I was totally gassed. My agent (Reuben) had been talking with the Eskimo Dance team for some time. However it wasn’t really confirmed whether I’d be performing at the event or not. So seeing my name on the Eskimo Dance line up felt amazing. I didn’t expect to be featured in the line up but I really wanted to be a part of it though.
“ I feel that people more want to hear what someone from Scotland has to say ”
SBTV recently wrote a piece on you on their website how did that make you feel?
I’ve got to give a shout out Aniefiok because he’s a real guy. It was mad seeing SBTV write about me. I had actually been looking around for sites or publication to get featured on but music is a lot about business and who you can get in connection with. The love their post received was on a completely different level
A few years ago I dropped the first Scottish rap video on a London based channel (Link Up TV) but I don’t think the audience down south were ready to receive my sound back then. However I feel that things are changing and people are becoming much more open minded because you’ll even see English Grime fans defend Scottish MCs being ridiculed online. I feel that people more want to hear what someone from Scotland has to say.
That brings me onto my next question do you ever feel that you’ve got a higher ladder to climb in Grime music than other MCs from because you’re from Scotland?
Yeah a lot of the major platforms are built in London and there’s an industry developing down there, meanwhile we’re just finding our first steps because it’s a fairly young scene. It is only within the last few years that I would have really been able to even call it a scene. When I made my first couple of songs around 2006/2007 there weren’t that many MCs up here.
“Around that time I was just a young kid in Scotland and hardly anyone even knew what Grime was”
Wait you said you got songs in 2006 and 2007, so how long have you been making music?
Well in 2006 I entered first year of secondary school and I remember putting money together so that I could try and get into the studio. However it wasn’t really until 2011 when me and my mate Connor decided that we should move much more professionally and created RFM (Ransom Fee Media). Before RFM I did a couple songs under the alias of Golden Resilliance, big up my cousin Fola from New York. I started trying to get into the studio around 2006/2007. Around that time I was just a young kid in Scotland and hardly anyone even knew what Grime was.
You constantly say “Stand Free” in your music, what does that mean ?
That’s a phrase I started saying a while ago. It’s actually a phrase that was formed by Aberdeen football fans who’d shout “Stand Free” during matches. Stand Free means stand alone and independent. It also means stand by yourself. I knew that using this phrase would make Aberdonians relate more with my music on a personal level, even if they weren’t really massive Grime fans.
You think your pride of being from Aberdeen inspired you make to “North Face”?
If I didn’t live in Aberdeen then I wouldn’t have made that track (laughs). Loads of people in Aberdeen wear Northface jackets, I even have a few jackets myself. I think it’s probably because of the cold weather to be honest. There’s even a new Northface shop that’s just recently opened in our city centre but the song wasn’t really about Northface the brand. I was actually referring to myself and others as being a Northern face if you get my drift.
Ah I get what you mean because I was thinking “this was random” but it makes sense now though
You don’t understand how popular the brand and the song is up here. When I’m walking in the city centre school kids come up in their North face jackets telling me how much they love that song. The song was actually made randomly when I was just messing about and freestyling.
“ If I support an artist coming to Scotland, the concert will most likely be in Glasgow ”
It’s pretty obvious that you’re a proud Aberdonian MC but you often perform in Glasgow. What is it about Glasgow that keeps you coming back?
The thing about Glasgow is that it’s the place most musicians go to perform whenever they come to Scotland. There’s more of a scene, venues and events taking place down there. If I support an artist coming to Scotland, the concert will most likely be in Glasgow. My Powers tour with Skyy Boii and Will Blaze will be going to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Glasgow is the music capital for Scotland.
“The crowd were going mental and jumping on top of each while screaming WU TANG FOREVER DID IT”
Although you’re a Grime MC it must have felt amazing supporting HipHop legend Ghostface Killah right?
That was a mad experience I felt as if I was in completely different world. I mean the energy in that place was surreal. Ghostface Killah went in. The crowd were going mental and jumping on top of each other while screaming “WU TANG FOREVER DID IT”. I’ve honestly never heard or seen anything like that before. You had three random people on who hopped stage and started rapping along to GhostFace Killah’s verses. I felt like that was the epitome of old school HipHop and the feeling it brought you.
Are you going to incorporate elements of what you saw into your performances?
Well actually I remember back in 2013 watching a video of Kendrick Lemar performing and being amazed at the amount of mad energy he put into his live performance. I’ve sat down and watched that video over 10 times. I mean Kendrick was calm and chilled backstage but as soon as he got on stage he switched it up. The crowd were feeding off his energy and immediately became hyped. After watching the video I realised that it’s important to put your life into your performances. Since then I’ve taken mental notes of how other artists dominate the stage.
Must have equally felt great supporting Grime legend Skepta as well right?
To be honest it was a mad experience. It was great to see that a lot of people had come down to Glasgow from Aberdeen to show support. What really made that night special for me was hearing the crowd shouting my slogan “Stand Free” before I had even started to perform.
One of my favourite songs from the E.P was “Of Course” you sounded really energetic and hyped up. What inspired you to make that song?
The video was just a combination of me and Connor. He said he found a great location for the video. The way I act in my videos is the same way I perform in my gigs. I have to bring mad energy because if you’re not energetic why would your audience be energetic.
But the actual track came about when I was chilling with Gidd Gamz and listening to a beat and the lyrics just suddenly came to my head. A few days later I then realised Reece Black would fit this song so I called Hefu (producer) and suggested we hook and make a banging song.
Another song that stood out to me and also happened to be featured on Toronto-based podcast’s #Gyalcast “Song of the Week” was WYTA (What You Talking About). Where did the inspiration for that song come from?
The thing is when I write music, I write for people and for myself. We all know someone whose cocky and claims to be the best but we think to ourselves “What are you talking about?” .
“One DJ said my E.P was his favourite project and that he actually preferred hearing northern accents on Grime”
You have been getting a lot of support from fans outside Scotland. That must feel nice right?
It’s mad to think that something you created in your bedroom is now being witnessed in different parts of the world. It’s one thing when people in Scotland recognise what I’m doing but it another thing seeing people from like California saying they’re fans of my work. It’s mad because I haven’t even been to California.
A lot of guys from the Midlands have shown a lot of love to me. One DJ said my E.P was his favourite project and that he actually preferred hearing northern accents on Grime.
After Sounds of The North is released what is your next step?
I’m currently working on another E.P, which could possibly be a collaboration E.P with a singer but that’s all I will say about that for now. I’m also working on a mixtape right now that’s going to be a collection of different songs but it will be predominantly Grime project. At some point I will be releasing a Ransom Crew mixtape.
You can listen to Ransom Fa’s E.P. “Sounds Of The North” on Soundcloud below but his E.P is available to purchase on Spotify and iTunes.
Follow Ransom Fa on social media.
Facebook : Ransom Fa
Twitter : @RansomFa
Instagram : @Ransom_Fa