Kicking off the week with a deep, dark and damaging blend from Incurzion Audio and Concrete Junglists' Ransom
A rattling, headsy trip, tightly woven with upfront bruisers and a few strategically placed classics, 1 More Mix 037 comes courtesy of Cardiff-based Ransom; Incurzion Audio label manager and a hyper-consistent, razor-sharp and highly-respected selector.
A consummate resident who can slide into any slot of the night and any line-up, Dean Ransom’s journey began as a 15 year old garage DJ back in the early 2000s and has been building up momentum ever since. Cutting his teeth in the Welsh capital as the resident at the legendary Aperture events, now a key member of the Concrete Junglists crew, he’s regular fixture at nights across the UK and has played alongside some of the biggest names you could imagine across the bass spectrum from Andy C to David Rodigan.
He’s not shy of an award or two either; in 2017 he won the Cardiff Music Awards Best DJ title and, just recently in February, he picked up a Best DJ Set award at Immersed! A festival that celebrates Welsh talent and raises funds for the Music Declares Emergency charity, an innovative and community-focused event curated by Creative Industries students at the University Of South Wales. The award, which was won alongside MC XL and fellow DJ Obsidian, was for a set mid covid times and came as a massive surprise to him. Listen to this mix and any type of accolade or golden salute shouldn’t come as a surprise. Listen here and get to know…
Congratulations on your recent award! How did it come about?
We were asked to be part of the Immersed Festival, which was around the end of lockdown. Myself, Obsidian and XL represented Incurzion and submitted the mix. We kinda forgot about it, to be honest. Then out of the blue they contacted me about the awards and suggested we should attend. Like strongly suggested, saying ‘I think it’s best if you come’.
Haha I’ve sent some emails like that when working on certain award show.
Those ones! But I was still surprised when I was called to the stage. Big up Immersed and big up Lucy who runs it. She’s done so much for the Welsh music scene.
Catapult Records family!
Oh bro, 90% of my musical life and connections can be traced back to that record shop. Such an important hub for the city. Think of all the people working there who sorted us out with vinyl and how many gigs you could find by being part of that community.
Take me back to your very first gig. Was that through Catapult?
Actually it was, yeah! I was 15, it was The Palace in Swansea.
Was that a garage one? The Palace was massive for UKG!
Yes it was! I was supporting someone big like Heartless Crew or EZ, I wish I could remember who but we’re talking 21 years ago now! It was sorted out from Richie Vibe Vee who went on to present on 1Xtra. I’d given him a tape and he was into it. Obviously because he was selling me the records! I went to Swansea on the train. Little dude with a massive record bag. I walked in and it was the most intense thing in my whole life. The vibe of the room, the energy and everything. It was mad! I get on the stage and Richie says to me ‘do me a favour mate, don’t smash it’ but I did go in, I had to! I came off the stage and the buzz was unreal. That was me for life. I had no other ambition but to DJ. It’s all I wanted to do!
Awesome. When did the D&B jungle come into things?
You’ll laugh at this mate but I hated jungle and drum & bass to begin with. I remember hearing a tape pack mix at a mate’s house. I was big into hip-hop and garage at the time and he was playing the tape. I can’t remember the DJ, probably Brockie because the MC was DET. I hated it. I was like ‘I can’t hear what he’s saying!’ But then when my dad got me my first decks – JB Systems Disco 2000s, old school belt drives! – all my mates were suggesting I got some D&B and eventually I did start collecting it and never looked back. Thousands of vinyls later, I’m still here!
Haha. I’m interested in your role as a resident DJ. Through Aperture, and now Concrete Junglists, I’ve seen you on so many different line-ups, playing so many different times of the night. You understand the role and always seem to play with empathy for the night, the line-up and the schedule…
I gotta thank Dave Shaw for giving me the opportunity to develop all what you’re saying there. I could say 1000 ‘thank you’s’ to that man and I still wouldn’t be close to saying what I want to say. He’s been a like a big brother to me. The best big brother anyone could have. He took me under his arm, he’s provided me with sets, comfort, advice, clothes. Everything.
How did you link?
I went to Moloko where he was running a night and my friend told me to take him a mix. He was starting Aperture a few months later and he invited me to play at his first event… And had me on board for every event since pretty much!
Successful demo mix!
No! It turns out he’d never even listened to it!
I’m just really lucky he invited me to play. It went well and, through my sets at Dave’s nights, I’ve gone on to play all over the place. But it’s funny because what you’re saying about being a resident. I don’t think I do much of that. I never, ever a read a crowd. I just play what I think needs to be played at that moment and it happens people seem to like what I play and the way I play it. When I realised it was that simple, it took any type of over-thinking out of it. Obviously you’ve got to use your head… If I’m playing after High Contrast, I won’t go in with a scatty neuro set, but so much of this comes down to experience and making sure I have an arsenal for any time of the night.
And I reckon the warm-up set is actually the hardest one. If you do a bad a warm-up set then you’ve put a lot of ravers off the dancefloor that night. They’ll come on for the headliners but you’ve limited the energy because you haven’t created a vibe.
It’s true! Let’s go back to those early days of Aperture in Cardiff. They marked the start of a whole new generation coming in at the time. Do you have any favourite memories?
The night he had David Rodigan down to play. Without a shadow, mate. Anyone who knows me knows that he’s my favourite DJ by far. The energy, the knowledge, the dubplates. It all speaks for itself.
Yeah he doesn’t read a crowd, he entertains it. The crowd reads him!
Exactly! That was a big inspiration for me. And I was blown away I was on the same line-up as him. When we met I asked him if I could be his son. He just looked at me weird.
Haha. Did you get to put that into context for him?
I did actually! After his set we spoke for 10 minutes backstage and I told him how much of an influence he had been on me and he understood why I’d asked him to be my dad. But yeah that was a big defining moment for me.
Love it. You seem to love a good b2b, too?
I fucking love them! I think the best ones are when people can keep up with me. One that comes to mind was with Frenetic. That was legendary. She said afterwards ‘wow, you can keep up with me! Not many people can.’ I was buzzing. She’s such an amazing DJ.
With b2bs it’s more about reading the other DJ rather than reading the crowd. And having tunes you know that are going to match, or be even better, than the ones they’ve got on their USB! I love the vibe of b2bs, when you’re both into it and working at the same speed, it’s so much fun. Pure jokes.
Yeah it does look like you’re having fun! Take the time to big up the Concrete Junglists events. You’re on the road with them a lot right now and they’re a great example of the energy in Wales with our scene right now…
Absolutely. Once again, big love to Dave Shaw. I wasn’t involved in the first load of event plans, Natty Lou was doing that at the time with Aaron Double A Side. But they invited me on board and I’m so glad they did. What you’re seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s some huge plans afoot, too. Nothing I can confirm but yeah, watch this space. The Concrete Junglists takeover continues…
Exciting! How do you feel about the energy and wealth of talent in Wales right now?
We struggled for a bit, won’t lie. When covid ended everyone said they’d be out every weekend and all that but it didn’t work out like that and I feel the venues – which are now closed and gone forever – took the brunt of that. I don’t think we’ve fully recovered from that whole situation, you know?
Definitely a volatile market for promoters now
Massively. And we’ve got some decent venues in Cardiff now. Welsh Club, Vaults, District, Buffalos. Enough to cater for lots of different crowds but you’re not guaranteed a big crowd even when the line-up is a really strong. Is it a money think? Is it a covid thing?
Both! Festivals have changed people’s appetites for raving, too. People are happier to save for a few big events and not go out regularly.
That’s a good point. And at the end of the day it’s about people enjoying it. It’s not about big crowds. If you’ve got the club a quarter full but those people are having the best night ever then that’s a success as far as I’m concerned. You see these certain promoters who live for packing out raves and the money but for me the best promoters are the ones who care about the vibe and people’s enjoyment and how they feel at the night.
100%!! So I feel exceptionally good when I listen to your mix. You told me when you sent it that the mix was totally off the cuff and not planned at all. That’s mad because it flows so well
Well it was the third take but it was off the cuff… The first take was intended as a load of dubs and unreleased tracks but something just didn’t click, you know? I didn’t know the music well enough, maybe. Not sure. Anyway, I tried it again and it didn’t work. I was like ‘fuck this!’ and went into the other room where Aaron Double A Side was. He was like ‘come on bro! What you doing?’
I thought, you know what? He’s right. Fresh can of Coke and cracked on. The first tune, that DLR one, got me into the vibe and I thought ‘yeah, I’m gonna take you on a proper journey!’ And I did. There are two mixes there which I do in a lot of sets. Mr Majestic into Dr Meaker Drift Away and Ready Or Not into Papa Lover. I’d done them mixes before but the rest was totally off the cuff and natural.
Ahhhh. The classics do get me. Like R-Type! I was listening to it in the car and when that came on I started blowing the horn and shouting!
Ah nice one man. When you sent me your feedback I sent it to the Concrete Junglists guys on a group chat and they were like ‘told you!!’
There you go! So where can people catch you over the coming months?
I’m playing at a vinyl-only night for Concrete Junglists on March 10, which will be cool. I’m playing at an event called Musci From The Mothership in Frome which is April 7, then Dr Meaker in Buffalo on April 14. Then P Money and Whiney in District on the 21st and a few big festivals. There’s a big one in South Wales on May 19 – 21, then In It Together Festival at the end of May, Big Love Festival in June and lots more I can’t confirm quite yet. See you there mate!
See you there! Any shouts?
Always… To my family! Especially my missus Sophie and my baby daughter Miley. Love you!