ROSS FROM FRIENDS
Essex outsider putting his minimalist electronica on the international stage.
Felix Clary Weatherall surfaced in 2015 as the figurehead of a micro-genre called “lo-fi house” that, even if you pay attention to such things, probably inspired something short of devotion. Its proponents had names like DJ Seinfeld and DJ Boring, their melancholy dance music amassing millions of views on YouTube seemingly by accident. Immune to extravagance, these nostalgic songs were considered pleasantly throwaway or, to a few techno purists, irredeemably gimmicky. No-one really talks about lo-fi house any more, but Clary Weatherall, who records as Ross From Friends, has long rallied behind the underdog genre. He’s tweaked its formula for an incoming debut on Brainfeeder, the renowned LA electronic label founded by Flying Lotus. This afternoon, the producer looks a little lo-fi himself, in a baseball cap and decrepit rucksack, ordering Guinness in a Shoreditch pub. “Your bag’s broke, mate,” says a stranger, observing the defective zipper. “I know, mate,” Clary Weatherall says, sighing. “It’s been like that forever.” He’s lived in New Cross for eight years now, having moved from Brightlingsea, a seaside town near Colchester that was last newsworthy around the mid-’ 90s, when a furore erupted over its livestock exports. He never quite fit into this curious enclave, partly thanks to an eccentric musical upbringing. A teen guitarist, he obsessed over both rock and electronic music, but in Colchester, his taste was too punk for the indie kids, too “glitchy” for the drum’n’bass heads. Efforts to digitise his Maccabees-fashioned indie band floundered. “I’d turn up to practice with a sampler,” he says with a rueful laugh. In one swoop, he ditched both his guitar and a prospective career in actuary, moving to Lewisham for a music course. He moonlighted as a radio DJ at Goldsmiths, where he later studied, taking after recent graduate James Blake. Besides Blake, another Goldsmiths alum who’s inspired Clary Weatherall is his mum, Joanne. As a young filmmaker, she made her start by documenting a continental bender led by a DJ named Jamie. Their 15- person crew became a travelling soundsystem, staging raves around Europe. Jamie and Joanne fell in love, eventually producing the second-generation DJ who would later recount this story to Q, emitting a strange mix of mistyeyed awe and squirmy discomfort. His parents’ “nutty journey” is one theme of his debut album, Family Portrait. But the title, he says, also alludes to a photo series of the Milky Way taken by a Voyager probe. “So it’s somewhat about drifting around in space, lonely,” he reflects, sipping his Guinness. The record’s charm, ironically, is its emotional connection: with a touch of cosmic perspective, Ross From Friends’ isolated, internet-immersed sound finally feels communal.
“The album is about drifting around in space, lonely.”
Felix Clary Weatherall, aka Ross From Friends: looks nothing like David Schwimmer!