TF Archives

Dj Ransom

Author: Andrez
Sunday, January 1, 1995
A new audiophile recording organisation entitled Totem is about to make its material available to the general public. On 19th January in 1998 Totem will release its first full-length compact disc recording. The title of this disc is 'The Physics Of Freestyle' and it's a mixed collection put together by Melbourne-based DJ Phil Ransom.

These days Ransom is easily one of Melbourne's worst-kept secrets. Worst-kept because he's been honing his craft in this city for almost a decade now, and for five years of that period has been resident DJ at the Lounge's Purveyors night on Saturdays. Fellow luminaries like Voiteck sing his praises and cite the man's prowess behind the decks, while Adelaide's dance music fraternity consider him to be the most talented DJ sourced from the eastern states.

Heady stuff indeed, but these praises haven't been slugged out easily by Phil Ransom himself, as he tells the tale. "I've been buying records for about twelve years and I've had my own 1200s at home now for six years - before that I was always scratching around borrowing turntables, using shit ones with plastic belt drives . . . anyway, for my 21st my dad wanted to buy me a gold ring and I turned him and said 'fuck the gold ring, buy me turntables!'. Which he did."

It's for his mixing and scratching talents utilising those self-same 1200s that Ransom has achieved much of his renown, and along the way kudos have included winning DMC championships in Melbourne a couple of times. So what's the experience like for someone playing in a competition as opposed to just DJing in a club- Phil mulls over the question for the briefest moment before responding. "I like working on the competition stuff because it helps me get my chops down in terms of cutting and scratching and things like that. When I'm playing in a club it's a totally different thing as you'd be able to appreciate; it's all programming and mixing that's important there. So having the two types of skills makes me unique - there're not very many DJs who both read a room and cut and scratch. Most of the hip hop guys don't understand the concept of programming music and reading the vibe of the room and playing to that vibe, while most of the people who are really great at reading a room just mix, without any of the hip hop tricks. So, as I said, it puts me in a unique position."

At a recent party Ransom put his scratching to good use while playing records over a techno backdrop supplied by Voiteck and his analogue equipment, and it was quite an eye-opening experience. "We've done that collaborative thing about four times now," reports Phil, "and we're starting to iron the kinks out a bit. It's not something we want to take out on the road and make into a big act; it's more something that keeps us both sharp - Voiteck with his techno and me with my beats. It's been good for me personally because it's opened my eyes to the way techno is mixed and where the sounds sit compared with hip hop."

Ransom's mainstay in this city, however, is his role as resident DJ at Purveyors at the Lounge on Saturday nights. "When it started about six years ago it was just called Saturdays at the Lounge and it was run by Oss and Misha, then they pulled me into the group and we changed the name to Purveyors six months later. Then Oss left to work in England, Misha left to work in America, and so I just kind of inherited it!"

And now Phil has released his own mix collection. Titled 'The Physics Of Freestyle', its disclaimer is that it's not hip hop, it's not house, and it's not drum 'n' bass - but all of these things rolled up into one. Phil also warns about the problems of licensing, stylistic constraints and timing when compiling a mix CD like this: "This is not a set that I would play at a club," he asserts. "This is a set that I'd play at home. It's nice music for a barbecue or a card game, you know- You can dance to it, but it's not like a traditional mix CD where you have someone making a re