ROSS FROM FRIENDS

Es­sex out­sider putting his min­i­mal­ist elec­tron­ica on the in­ter­na­tional stage.

Q (UK) - - Incoming - JAZZ MON­ROE

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!

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