Impact is a series that's dedicated to profiling raw talent that's about to turn dance music on its head. Next up: Ross From Friends
Felix Weatherall aka Ross From Friends is a leading figure in the emergent lo-fi scene, which has evolved from an online community of fresh-faced producers into a palpable underground phenomenon.
His track ‘(Talk To Me) You’ll Understand’ surfaced online in 2015, and its artful blend of hazy pads, trembling guitar lines and well-chosen vocal samples has become a sensation, amassing over a million plays on YouTube and a couple hundred thousand more across SoundCloud, with comment threads awash with impassioned tributes for its emotional resonance.
Hailing from Colchester, Weatherall grew up on a diet of late 80s Hi-NRG and Italo disco dance music under the influence of his Dad, who would travel with a soundsystem and DJ parties wherever he could. “My Dad's really big into dance music in a really big way,” as he puts it. Inspired by the sharp synthesisers, driving drum machines and positive moods of the music, he’s been making music in various forms from a young age, both in bands and solo, including a dubstep project under the name Munching Beans.
Five years ago he began to produce as Ross From Friends, carving out a style he was comfortable to pursue with intent, and from that point things have taken off. In 2015 he minted South London label Breaker Breaker with his debut release ‘Alex Brown’, a three-track EP of rough-edged house textures that threads fraught foundations and gliding melodies together in assured style, with the record quickly selling out an initial run.
Last year scene heavyweight Lobster Theremin locked in '(Talk To Me) You’ll Understand' for release on its Distant Hawaii sublabel, and in 2017 he’s got plenty more in the works.
We spoke to Ross From Friends upon his return from a gig at renowned Lyon club Le Sucre, and later this month he heads back across the channel to play in Paris, with multiple UK dates also penned in the calendar. Sell-out records and international live shows mark out Ross From Friends’ surging popularity, and with a fervent fanbase tracking his every move closely, his continued ascent looks assured.
Exclusive Q+A and mix below.
You maintain an eccentric, somewhat Ross Geller-esque, persona online. Now that you’ve settled on your artist moniker do you feel you have to live up to it? How close would you say this is to your own personality?
I think I'm a little eccentric in nature, but at the same time I'm a very relaxed person. I feel like some of the online persona, and the whole moniker thing, is like being behind a veil, so you can just act up to it. Online it's just fun to have this silly act going on, but there is a bit of that in my true personality, and I suppose it shines through in the character of Ross From Friends. That wasn't intended to be a representation of the character Ross from Friends. I just like to have this goofy outlook on things and it's expanded much more acting as Ross From Friends.
We noticed that you’ve trolled a few publications in the past during interviews. Are you going to troll us?
You'll just have to roll with the punches I guess, see what comes your way! I'll try not to. That usually only happens if the interviewer isn't really giving me anything substantial to talk about.
Noted. I read that you spent six months writing ‘(Talk To Me) You’ll Understand’, with the aim of making something you really love. It’s been something of an underground hit, amassing over a million views on YouTube. How does it feel to see so many people connect with something you’ve poured yourself into emotionally?
It is actually, genuinely, so very rewarding. I put so much love and compassion into that track, and crafted something that was really emotionally relevant to me, while also trying to define what my sound is as well in one fell swoop. To know that a massive amount of people really understand that as well as me is so refreshing. For a lot of the time I was making that track it was a fairly insular process; I wouldn't really speak to anyone about it or show anyone it, aside from little clips, and they'd just be like "cool, whatever". Having the online community to share it with, and hearing people open up and say it's touched them in some kind of deep way, almost spiritually, or just enjoying the track, is amazing.