With a third album firmly in motion, Ross From Friends discusses ending his musical hiatus, curbing expectations, and living out the dream of being an 'indie pop guy'.

“As you can see, my studio looks like some sort of psychedelic love palace”, says Ross From Friends, gesturing towards the various carpets, mounted guitars and plants that consume his backdrop. For Felix Clary Weatherall, it’s become a sanctuary where he can write and record music for his third studio album. Keeping cards close to his chest, the electronic multi-hyphenate doesn’t reveal much, other than that he’ll be soon stepping out from behind the buttons and in front of a microphone, ready to live out his childhood dream as “an indie pop guy”.


Techno heads needn’t worry. If Felix’s latest single, “The One”, is anything to go by then he won’t be passing up his wonky garage and 4/4 hybrids just yet. Released on Scarlet Tiger – the artist’s own imprint launched in 2o21 – the track’s battered sound systems and rattled brains on the club circuit for over a year, but fans have had to wait patiently to hear its final iteration. “Are you ready / For the DJ?” questions a commanding voice on the drop, before its production explodes into a frenzy of shuffling drums, shattering breaks and fragile vocal chops. The track will be inescapable this festival season, instigating flailing arms and gun fingers alike as the distinctive “You are the one for me” sample fills the air. 


Previously releasing on Distant Hawaii, Magic Wire and more, Felix found his match in Brainfeeder: the prestigious record label established by boundary-pushing beatmaker Flying Lotus. His debut album, ‘Family Portrait’, revelled in past influences, while developing a more nuanced approach to dance music’s sprawling spectrum. Shifting through gears, 2021’s follow up, ‘Tread’, diversified the infamous producer’s palette exponentially. The expansive record provided the perfect backdrop for a pandemic-engulfed world craving the dancefloor’s connectivity. 


But before all this, Ross from Friends was leading a lo-fi techno charge. Alongside DJ Boring, DJ Houseplants and the other playfully named producers of the era, the Essex-born artist became a phenomenon through beautifully melancholic records. Released in 2016, “Talk to Me You’ll Understand” remains his most played single to date, epitomising the scene’s nostalgic style. A growing individuality followed and his desire to experiment remains fervent: “I try to avoid having a set process, so I can keep it as fun as can be” he tells me while re-adjusting his signature cap.  


With his third album firmly in motion, Ross From Friends discusses curbing expectations, warming to collaboration and seeking pop stardom. 

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Let’s start with “The One”, a brilliant new single produced by you and for your imprint Scarlet Tiger. Is it one you’ve had in the vault for a while or a production you made recently? 

It’s been about for a long time and it’s had so many different forms. It actually started as a slow, 110 BPM dancehall track, some versions didn’t even have the vocal in it. It’s been all over the place until I finally landed on this version.


This version came to be because we were playing it live and experimenting. At that point in time, with the live show, we were playing big clubs, and so naturally, it ended up becoming this proper club-y tune.

Before the single, it had been nearly two years since we’d heard any music from you. Why the hiatus?

Honestly, it didn’t feel that long. When I looked, I thought shit, it had been two years since ‘Tread’ had come out, which is mad because I’ve had “The One” finished for nearly all of that time. And there’s no perfect reason for the hiatus. The right answer should be that I was spending time with my family; I’ve got a two-year-old son, which makes sense for that span of time. But it wasn’t even that. We spent loads of time together before and during, but I was still making music in the studio.

Has your son been to the studio? What are his early musical infatuations?

When I last brought him to the studio, he was really young. He hasn’t been to this current iteration of the studio. I’m planning a field trip with a bunch of friends’ kids. They can all come down and mess around. I’d need to tidy up and clear all the cigarette smoke out. When he came down before I handed him a drumstick and he hit a snare drum. So now I’m like, he’s a drummer.

Do you reckon you’ll be the type of father who lets him explore and find out what type of music he likes? Or do you think you’ll be trying to sneak some input into his music taste?

Nah, he’s going to listen to whatever. I’m sure we’ll have the point where he’s listening to something and I’m like, “Turn that fucking music down, listening to this god-awful rap music”. There’s going to be that point for sure. 

Was the reception to the new tune what you expected? 

You never know what to expect and I’ve learnt to curb my expectations a little. But the reception has been great, it’s cool to hear people are really enjoying it. I love playing it in DJ sets; the reaction’s been fucking awesome actually. When we were playing it live, it was always this mysterious tune to people. Now it’s out, it feels good.

Over the past two years, have you found yourself being influenced by different music? Or is there anything outside of this space that’s influencing your studio sessions now? 

The music I’m making currently is really different to even “The One”. I’m super inspired by all of this 60s and 70s music and their recording techniques. As you can see, my studio looks like some sort of psychedelic love palace.


In terms of “The One”, it was UK garage with a fourth-to-the-floor flavour, inspired by clubs and DJing. There are two sides of me, one that’s a sweet, heartfelt lo-fi guy, and then an ape-shit club person too.

It seems like your dad has been a big influence on you musically. What traits of his fanaticism do you think you possess now? And when you were younger, did you like or resent the music that he was so passionate about?   

When he played the old Italo stuff, I didn’t really know how I felt about it at the time, but it was always so present. Really, I only started liking it properly when I was older. But he would always be doing his own thing and blasting music out in his flat. I’d never be like, ‘this is great’ but it had a massive impact on me. In terms of his fanaticism, I see that in myself so much. I mean, he’s still at it now and he’ll stay up until three am looking for new music every night. I see that in myself, that obsession, he’s just crazy about it.

Do you have a way of approaching or process you usually go through when putting together a track? Has this shifted? 

I have a set way that I start a tune, but to be honest, my whole mindset is that I try to avoid having a set process, so I can keep it as experimental and fun as it can be. My approach has changed quite a lot over time from when I started making stuff on the computer. Now, I’ve got a really big studio with loads of stuff in it. So, it’s very much changed. 

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To say that you hadn’t released music in nearly two years isn’t strictly true, as in 2022, you remixed Jeshi’s brilliant single “3210”. You’ve previously said that you wanted to work with UK rappers or hip-hop artists. How did you find the process of remixing a rap song and is this indicative of something more concrete being in the works? 

The direction I went with that Jeshi tune was almost immediate to me. I wanted something that sounded like Katy B, “On A Mission”. That worked with his flow and lyrics so well. It had to be like a 2010s ecstasy tune. We have worked on things since then, and we’ve spent a lot of time just messing around, making tunes. I still want to work with rappers and remix their work. I found that process to be really fun. 

You’ve mentioned that you’re not crazy about collaborations and prefer the experience of writing music solitarily in the studio. Has this still been the case over the past two years or have you worked with other artists? 

It has been, because I’ve realised I don’t dig into loads of detail when working with people. The process is really fast. It feels like an entirely new way of making music. I’m aiming to be as productive as I can when someone else is in the room, getting the ideas out there and then you can just work on them later. But it’s also fun to hang out with someone else as well. I actually value the company of other people now.

A few years back, you opened up a Reddit thread to answer fans’ questions and spoke fondly about the connectivity this gave you. Since the pandemic, is this something you’ve been more conscious about, opening up a conversation with those who love you the most? 

I probably should be but I’m still not mad about speaking to people. There’s probably a little bit of imposter syndrome at play. Like, I’m just a guy. But actually speaking to people and hearing that I have fans is really nice. Sometimes at shows, I honestly try to avoid it because I get overwhelmed by people talking to me. But then, when I speak to them, I’m like, ‘Damn, that was really nice.’


Yeah, it’s actually nice as long as it’s not a huge wave of people. It’s always people who really like my stuff, which is really nice to hear. It’s so different, especially when you’re looking at YouTube comments and people are saying they love it or whatever, it doesn’t feel real. But when someone’s speaking to you and saying something directly and having a conversation with you, it makes you realise what it means to them.


The thing I like most is when someone mentions a really old tune of mine, and points out a really specific part. It makes you think, ‘Wow they really know their stuff!’. That feels awesome because there’s a connection.

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Let’s talk about Scarlet Tiger – it launched in 2021 – how’s it been going? 

I love having the label. It’s in a really nice place. And I love the opportunity of being able to release some of the music that people send me. I wanted the label to be more symbolic of the dancier side of what I do and I want the Brainfeeder releases to be their own entity, that exist as home listening. I’ve got some more stuff coming out on it this year.

When you released “Burner”, ‘Tread’ sounded a lot clubbier than the other projects you had put out. Was “Burner” the spark for releasing clubbier music? 

Yeah, I think it was, and it’s pretty much stayed like that until now. It’s interesting, I’ve got a whole folder of music that I’ve made which will never see the light of day. That just happened to be where my head was at that point. 

How is releasing music on Scarlet Tiger different to releasing on external labels? Does it give you more freedom? 

There’s a lot more to think about because you want to maintain the label’s integrity, but it’s super rewarding. That the label’s name or ‘Ross from Friends’ is enough to carry it is a super satisfying thing. I just want to continue building it up slowly.

What was the vision for the label? When you sat down and initially thought about making it, what did you see it as?

I knew that I wanted it to be UK-focused electronic music. That was what I wanted the sound to be, basically. Then I came up with the visual aspect as well. I really wanted something iconic, like when you see that blue and yellow trim, you know what it is. Just like how all the old XL releases had the grey cross going across the entire thing; you know what it is, and you know it’s going to be good dance music as well. I want it to have that stamp.

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In April alone, you played dates in Amsterdam and Berlin across the US. How does touring impact your creative process? Do you find it easy to write music on the go? 

Yeah, I do sometimes but I should do it more now that I have the process down. It’s just hard to find the time or energy to pull it open but I try to do as much as I can. With a kid, I get back knackered and if he doesn’t sleep that night, I come back into the studio and I’m like, ‘I can’t make tunes today, I feel like shit.’ I’m trying my best to stay as clean as I can. When I’m touring, I’ll have a couple of beers here and there but I don’t stay up late. I exercise and try to keep a clear head, so when I come back I’m sharp.

And apart from Lost Village, you haven’t got many festivals lined up this summer. Is that because you know there’s new music on the way? Or is it just indicative of a well-earned break and that you fancy a summer to yourself and the family?

Yeah, I’m making a new album now. I spent pretty much the last six months of 2022 building this studio. And then this past five or so months, I’ve been writing new music. 

At this early stage, what’s it sounding like?

I’d say it’s definitely a more live-sounding album for sure. And I’m going to be singing as well…

Is that something you’ve always wanted to do? 

I would hate myself if I never released an album where I’m singing on it. I always loved to when I was a kid and so it’s one of those things where I’ve got to push myself,  I’ll regret it if I don’t do it.

Were you in bands growing up?

Yeah, I was never the frontman but I always played guitar. As a kid, I was more interested in guitar music. But my first introduction to producing was making electronic music on my computer. I’ve got these old files from when I was 10 or 11, I had no idea what I was doing. It was pretty indefinable music. 

And what’s next for Ross From Friends? You’re good at staying out of the spotlight, but are you ready to get back in there again?

Yeah, I’m fully ready to get back into it. I want to be a pop star, baby. I want to go hard and live out that childhood dream of being an indie pop guy. 

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