With sleepy eyes and the lights dimmed, there’s nothing like Trevor Ransom’s 2014 single “Framed” to take you deep into the smooth liquefaction of quixotic dream; a combination of congenially-cohesive melody and timeless vernacular from Casablanca.
This work of four-minute-bliss was Ransom’s first release and made a huge impact on its audience. Trevor shortly followed this with his landscape and nature-inspired EP Glimpses and his latest offering, the Filaments EP, which was released three months ago, in which he exhibits his inherent ability to translate visual aesthetics and ambiance into such poignant melodies.
Ransom’s music inspiration comes from vast open landscapes which make an impact on him: whether it be the mountains, cliffs and gaping valleys in the Scottish Highlands, or the serene tranquility of the Lake District; “That’s what drew me to England; the kind of stuff that made me feel small again, which can easily become foreign. It put me in a good, honest mind-set again“.
Inspired by artists including Ólafur Arnalds, Sigur Ros and Jon Hopkins, Trevor Ransom’s natural affinity towards raw, pure countryside is completely reflected in his music, as he manages to combine sight and sound so perfectly to conjure up this powerful yet delicate, and somewhat nebulous cosmos which he sees and which we, as an audience, hear. This is achieved through his use of field recordings, his own vocals and samples of both speech and instruments, to create those progressive dewy and smoky-rich textures that ensure such a potent narrative.
We got the chance to chat to Trevor, to find out what’s behind the makings of his art.
You often use ‘field recordings’ in your work, could you give us some examples of sounds you’ve used?
“I try and stick to the ‘raw’, everyday sounds: Gravel crunching beneath my feet on a walk down a steep hill, a waterfall in a windy valley in the Scottish Highlands, leaves crackling in my hands, people talking in a cafe, the clinking sounds of a coffee machine – things you just wouldn’t usually appreciate, I try and make people notice“.
And how did you get into producing music?
“(Laughs) firstly I actually just made music to be cool. I had some friends that could play guitar in high school and I thought they were so cool. I started to teach myself how to play with my Mother’s old classical guitar, and I started creating my own songs too. Eventually the inspiration for my creation switched from trying to impress others into a natural outlet for my thoughts and emotions“.
Your music is fuelled primarily by nature. What is it about landscapes that inspire you so much, and how do you go about converting these landscapes into song?
“I need to feel small and be reminded of how frail I am sometimes. In residential areas I tend to get into this comfortable rhythm and it’s easy to put myself at the center of my universe. So going out into landscapes that are raw or massive help me feel small again. It just feels right. My field recordings allow me to put a phonological part of the landscape into a song, and then I portray the mood of a landscape – whether it’s epic, hushed, grey or vibrant – almost subconsciously through the instrumental“.
What brought you to England in the first place, and how did such strong feelings of loneliness influence your work?
“I think I was drawn to England at first by its perceived-melancholy, as well as a strong desire for adventure. I’d just finished university with a degree in Computer Science and imagined I might get a job here, I wanted something new. I think my EP describes my emotional journey during my time working at The King’s Lodge for nearly a year.
The loneliness I felt wasn’t constant or anything but I did feel it, and I think that’s most clear in my song ‘Out of Focus in the Forest’ which I wrote when I first moved, inspired heavily by Ólafur Arnalds. I trusted that things would get better though, and I think that comes out in the music as the song changes mood in the later stages“.
When does most of your music creation take place – are you a really late-at-night kind of guy?
“I’m probably the most productive in the afternoon (after a couple cups of coffee), when I’ve actually made time to sit down and create. But then there’s no 100% successful formula. Sometimes, an idea will hit me 15 minutes before I need to leave to go somewhere, and I’ll just jot it down in crude form. More often than not when that happens, it ends up being a crucial part of the song. There’s definitely something to be said for raw, unanalyzed creativity“.
Trevor also slipped to us how he’d begun working on a track list for his next EP during his two-month trip to Sweden. Watch this vast open space, and keep tabs on him on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.
Words by Tash Fry and Jamie Brown