Ross From Friends has had a whirlwind couple of years with releases on Lobster Theremin, Distant Hawaii, Lone’s Magicwire and most recently Molten Jets.
With his Aphelion EP now out via Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint, we spoke to him about on production, tour antics and how his new record came about.
You have mentioned in the past that it has taken you a long time to produce music with the goal of being able to infuse it with emotion and make it relevant to yourself. How do you feel you best portray these emotions in your tracks?
I always spend such a long time experimenting with loads of different ideas until something feels like it really grabs me emotionally. At the moment it seems like making a track is just this process over and over again until the song is complete.
The chord progressions you use in your music have a very mature and purposeful feel to them. Are you classically trained in any instrument?
Oh thank you! No I’ve never really had any lessons in instruments before. I had about 3 or 4 drum lessons, and a similar amount of of jazz cornet lessons but I don’t think I really enjoyed it. I’ve played guitar since I was about 14, but I was always toying around making music with computers for as long as I can remember. I pretty much taught myself keys when I was writing Talk To Me, You’ll Understand in 2014. I really wanted to make a track where the rhythm of the melodies felt human, so I just got really good at playing the melodic parts of that one song basically.
In your live Boiler Room performance, your guitarist gets up on someones shoulders to perform a solo. Do you have any other stories when you guys were performing live and something unexpected happened?
Haha, yeah. That was my friend Mark’s shoulders—he had absolutely no idea that was going to happen, but he’s basically up for anything so he went along with it. There’s been a handful of times where Jed (guitar) has just suddenly leapt up onto the table or climbed some kind of rigging with out us knowing. Once when we played in Sydney, Jed leapt up on to the table just before the guitar solo in Talk To Me and obliviously knocked loads of his guitar cables out; I was scrambling around trying my fastest to get them all plugged in before the big moment and I looked up and he was just wearing these stupid Oakley sunglasses in the club like he didn’t even give a damn about the cables even if he’d noticed. He was just sucking it all in being a rockstar while my heart was pounding like a jackhammer. It was infuriating and hilarious at the same time.
In terms of work-flow, you blur the lines between live-playing hardware and sequenced loops/samples. When writing your music, do you have any interesting creative processes/techniques?
I tend to sample a lot, I spend hours and hours before I start a project just compiling a bank of samples that I might use for a track. Then if I hit a creative block at any point with the hardware, I’ll start to mess around with these samples for a while. I’ve been trying to challenge myself a lot recently, too. I’ll try something like, ‘ok in this track I won’t use the grid’, or ‘let me make the structure of the song first’ to try and make myself not stagnate in the same routines.
Your four-track EP is out on Fly Lo’s Brainfeeder imprint, how did the link there come about?
FlyLo just got in touch with me a couple of years ago over Twitter saying that he liked my music. That was obviously a massive compliment coming from someone who’s gotta be an idol to so many people making electronic music. Pretty quickly afterwards he asked me whether I wanted to make some music for his record label, which was hard to decline.
Is John Cage an idol of yours? Why did you name one of the tracks after him?
I guess he is, yes. Anyone who brings such an original take on music is an idol of mine. But that’s not why I called the track that, aha. The song itself actually began life as a hip-hop track that me and my friend Guy made in one pretty dynamic afternoon. One of the lyrics that he used was ‘see me in a rage, like John Cage’ then I cut a few seconds of silence (in reference to John Cage’s 4’33), that was pretty much the only lyric that stuck from the entire rap verse, and is now in the final version of the tune.
Ross From Friends’ Aphelion EP is out now on Brainfeeder.
Order it here.
Words: Pete Brown
Featured Images: Fabrice Bourgelle, Ben Robinson