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With an album on the way and recent tracks Wraith and Floetry out now, Ro Ransom proves to be nothing short of eccentric and innovative. Ro spoke with Verge about his background as a person and an artist, his reasons for making music, and his recent signing with Sony’s new joint venture SamePlate.
What’s a reason you get up in the morning?
Well, besides Rashida Jones… definitely music. Music is magic. I feel like musicians are magicians and we kind of have an ability to take people’s pain away and be a shaman or something. So music is definitely the reason I get up in the morning.
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What was it like growing up in Harlem? Does it have any influence on your music?
It has a huge influence on my music. Growing up in Harlem was weird for me. On one side, it’s my home, I love it, I grew up there, I spent time on those blocks, all of my formative experiences were there. But also at the same time, I never fit in, I wasn’t typical. My style of dress, the music that I like, the places I partied, the girls I liked were all atypical of what my block was like. But you know, all the fucking thugs and shit on my block were like “nah we fuck with Ro because he just is who he is. He’s pullin’ up and he’s got on his pink shoes and studded belt, and that’s just who he is”. It definitely had a huge influence on my music because if you can live there and be eccentric and be strange, that’s it. Nothing, nobody can tell you anything anymore. That’s what gave me the confidence to be the artist that I am.
Is that what shaped Mystery Boy? Who is Mystery Boy and where did he come from?
(laughs) That’s a great question. Honestly, for me, I’ve just always been a reserved person, people have put the term eccentric on me so the phrase itself kind of came from me giving a name to the way people treated me anyway. The way people looked at me and perceived me. Especially because I wear makeup and platform shoes, people just perceive me a certain way so I kind of owned it. It’s who I’ve always been, like, I’ve always loved Japanese cartoons and Fergie is a huge influence on my music too. I just have an eclectic clash of different things going on that people don’t automatically look at me and assume. I think that’s really where Mystery Boy comes from. You don’t know what I’m going to do next, wear next, you don’t even know what genre my next song is going to be, you never know. I would say that’s where it comes from.
Of course. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Can you tell me how your artistry has changed since your 2015 release “See Me Fall”? Do you feel like you’ve developed in some kind of way?
Oh a hundred percent. I feel like with “See Me Fall” and the momentum in general, just me rolling out all those songs, was really me learning how to write songs at a higher level. It was really me learning how to express myself and say everything I wanted to say with less words. That’s one of the reasons why I used Kensei in it. Because his lines and his sentences can be four or five words but he gets so much emotion across. So that was really what my sound was like, how can I say everything I want to say with less words? I feel like between “See Me Fall” and now I’ve kind of been able to do that at a much higher level than I was able to do before. I think that I’m just older and more mature, more experienced, more polished, just owning who I am, and I think that that shows on the new record.
Has SamePlate had any influence on your music? What drew you to working with SamePlate?
Well actually, I had a really good relationship with one of the people that started the label, Alex. I’ve known him since I was a teenager and that was a big part of it for me, trust. I had a lot of meetings with a lot of labels and I met a lot of people, but I couldn’t find trust as far as it goes. It had to be someone I felt comfortable with, somewhere where I was going to be able to do whatever I felt musically, and SamePlate is that place. They definitely have had influence on the way my music is being put out as far as helping me and being able to help me get my videos done, and execute my vision, but as far as the music goes, they haven’t even heard the album yet (laughs). I say that with all positivity though, they’ve given me free range just to do what I believe in.
What inspires you to create?
Wow. I mean so many different things. I mean, life, love, loss. The general human experience. I really am inspired by the idea that I can take something very specific that I’ve gone through and express it in a way that tens, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of people can relate to, and it can help them through their situation. That’s really what I do this for, it makes me happy and it shows that “hey you’re not alone”. I can show my story and it makes me not feel alone knowing that they don’t feel alone when they hear it. That’s definitely what makes me want to write down everything I experienced in a way that people can relate to.
Stream Ro Ransom on Spotify and check out his newest video Wraith on YouTube.
Libby Kallins is a senior at Rutgers University studying Communications and Music with a special interest in Music Business. She is currently the New Jersey College Marketing Representative for Sony Music Entertainment and the Rock Director at Rutgers' radio, 90.3 The Core. Libby sings in a rock band called Zoochie and loves her pug, Camila, more than anything else.