Musings: Q&A with Kian Ransom of The Ransom Collective

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Indie folk-pop band, The Ransom Collective, is a wonder to behold. Ranging from their foot-tapping anthems to soulful musings, the six-piece band has proven themselves masters of their craft and artists with a mission.
I was able to sit down and talk with frontman and lead vocalist Kian Ransom about The Ransom Collective, his thoughts on Original Pinoy Music, TRC’s future plans, and his other projects.
What was the reason behind bringing The Ransom Collective together?
I ran into a high school friend who heard some of the music I was posting on Soundcloud, and he encouraged me, “Dude, let’s get a band together!”
And then a local, independent music thing offered to do a video of one of my songs. So, I needed to get a band together. I got my former high school classmate to play the drums, and then I met some people at UP Diliman like Jermaine, Lily, and Leah. And from there, we were only gonna play for, like, a month or two just so we could do this video. But we decided to audition for Wanderband. And when we won that, which we were totally shocked that we won, we realized “Hey, maybe there’s something here. Let’s keep at this. Let’s see what we could do with this.” So it’s kind of a happy accident.
And then we were realizing that there were no other indie folk bands in the Philippines and that there was a market for it. We were like, “Maybe people might enjoy this. People are looking for this here.” So we just kept pursuing that; doors kept opening, and we kept walking through them.
The Ransom Collective at this year’s Laneway Festival in Singapore
What was the vision for The Ransom Collective?
We never really planned to be successful. It was so unfathomable that we never really took it seriously. We just wanted to make good music – something we were proud of. It wasn’t until after we won Wanderband that we realized we had potential. And that’s when we started to see how many people we could reach, how we could market ourselves, who could we connect with.
It’s an incredible feeling when you go to a gig and a few people walk up to you, you have never met them, but we feel connected because they’ve listened to something that I’ve written and relate with it. And whatever emotion I was feeling when I was writing that, I know that they have probably felt something similar. It’s an incredible feeling and I think that fueled us to create new goals.

“We even get mail sometimes, and this one guy wrote and implied like he was ready to end his life. [He said] that our music had this calming effect on him, helped him have a better outlook on life, and now he’s doing a lot better. And, like, man! That was never the goal. That was never the plan. I never had any idea that our music could affect another person in such a positive way beyond just, like, something to listen to in the car.”

Once we all started to realize the power of music and what it can do beyond us, our goals started to shift into continuing to get it out there – to be ourselves, to be positive, and to try and help people. Whether it’s having something good to listen to in the car or something to listen to during a family member’s passing, whatever the reason might be, we just wanna spread positivity and good vibes.
In the end, that’s our passion. That’s why we’ve avoided signing onto any kind of record label or anything like that because we don’t want to do anything that would potentially alter our ability to pursue that goal.
What is the state of OPM?
Well, OPM is so diverse now. Especially with things like Spotify and YouTube, it’s not the radio telling people what to listen to anymore. Nowadays, the radio is way below what people are using the internet for.
The OPM scene is amazing now because you have [indie folk] bands like us and Ben&Ben, Tom’s Story which is this math mental stuff which you could never have imagined being popular 10 years ago, and you have dancey synth-pop like Autotelic. There’s just so much diversity now, and I think it’s amazing.  It’s a result of people being able to listen to what they wanna listen to. It’s a great time to be in the industry.
There are a lot of limitations that have been lifted, and a lot more room for creativity, for experimenting, for collaboration, and there are a lot more people waking up to it. The masses are also starting to get introduced to independent bands, not just as these little indie Manila scene bands, but as OPM-contributing musicians.
At first, when I heard that there were some other bands that had an indie folk style, my first gut reaction was, “Oh, no! We’re gonna be fighting for the same turf.” But it didn’t take long for me to realize how ignorant that mindset was. It was a very selfish gut reaction.
The truth is, those bands are great, and they’re bringing more people into the OPM scene. And so, where before we might only have 10,000 potential people who knew about indie folk and would be interested in it, they’ve pulled in another 10,000 of their own. So now, there’s 20,000 for us to share.
We have Reese, Ben&Ben, The Ransom Collective, and there’s almost this whole sub-genre forming within OPM. It’s like, “OPM Indie Folk”. So it’s cool to be part of, not just the greater OPM scene, but also the smaller little pockets that are coming up. It’s not just “four-man, guitar-based, drums, and singer” anymore. It’s super diverse.

Traces’ vinyl edition is coming out soon. How does it feel?
It’s pretty surreal! I never thought that I’d be able to release a whole album, let alone something actually on vinyl. We got to listen to the test pressing a couple months ago, but I never really got to hold it or see the cover. It was just a white folder. But once I actually get to see it and hold it, I’d be like “Oh, my gosh!”
We don’t have anything to do with the creation of the vinyl. Offshore Music is the ones who are making all that happen. It’s amazing to be working with them.
What are your thoughts on the sudden comeback of vinyl releases?
I think it’s kind of a reaction and a balancing-out with Spotify. Like, 10 years ago, you had to pay for every CD, every cassette, or whatever that you wanted. People were really spending money on music. Once the Internet came about, everybody started pirating and CD sales plummeted. And then when Spotify came out, people don’t really pirate anymore. I mean, I’m sure it’s still happening, but it’s so much more difficult now to find a link to downland your album. Now, it’s just, “press ‘save’ on Spotify.”
And so, I think, once people had the ability to get music that easily, all of a sudden, spending an extra 1000 or 2000 Pesos on a vinyl felt a lot more reasonable. I mean, Spotify is so cheap anyway, and for these albums that I really feel close to and I wanna have something physical, I’ll buy the vinyl. It’s more of like memorabilia to feel more connected with it.
Could you share a little bit on some future projects and plans?
For The Ransom Collective, we’re working on another album soon. We’ll get into songwriting in a bit.
With Sleep Talker, I don’t know. That one’s really just like a side project. I don’t really do much with it. It’s just whenever I feel like writing something just outside-the-box, I’ll do it there.
I’m hoping to do more fun things with that. Like, in my last track, I got to work with Mito (Curtismith). I’m totally open to working with other people. I’m just trying to diversify and experiment. We’ll see. Hopefully, I could put out at least on song this year. Maybe more if I get inspired.