Easily one of the most awaited acts at Magnetic Fields 2019, Ross From Friends didn’t just make a bang of an appearance at the festival but left us all with a playlist for days, to reminisce and groove to his tunes long after the journey back home from the scintillating Magnetic Fields Festival.

Putting up quite the show at the BUDX South Stage, here’s a bit from Ross From Friends, in conversation with the Sherp, a few days ahead of the festival.

  1. Okay, since many are intrigued by the character reference, what’s with the name ‘Ross from Friends’? How did you settle on this as your moniker? 

Starbucks started doing that thing a couple years back where they write your name on the cup. For some reason, even “Felix” was too difficult to get right, so I would just give random names. “Ross” turned out to be a pretty easy one to spell, so I kept giving that when I wanted to get my coffee. Then I thought it would be funny if I pretended to be a famous person, and in the heat of the moment when I was getting my drink, the only famous “Ross” that I could come up with on the spot was “Ross From Friends”. I’m not sure if the barista believed me, but it stuck!

2. We know your father played a role in your interest in music. Has his musicality influenced any of the music that you’ve put out over the years? 

Definitely. In the late 80s, early 90s, he would DJ at these squat raves, and he was really into all this mad hi-NRG dance music which is this weird European genre that has loads of cheesy sounds and super harsh synths. I don’t think that has specifically played into my music, but definitely the spirit of it: the willingness to be a bit silly, to put yourself outside of your comfort zone and experiment with stuff you’re not necessarily totally comfortable with. At the Phonox residency that I did recently as well, I got to do a b2b all night with my dad. We just played loads of silly breakbeat stuff, it was great. Such a special thing to be able to do.

3. Did you always feel like this is what you wanted to do? If you could pick an alternate profession what would it be? 

I’m not sure that it’s always been what I wanted to do, but it’s definitely always been lurking in the background. My parents met in the summer of 1990 when my dad had built this soundsystem and he was touring it around Europe, just pitching up and playing these free parties. So I suppose music has always been in my blood, as cheesy as it sounds. If I wasn’t in music, I don’t know what I’d be doing. Maybe carpentry? 

4. The reviews for ‘Epiphany’ have been hugely positive. What can you tell us about the process of producing the EP? 

When I started making stuff for Brainfeeder, I was really conscious of the uniqueness of the label and how individual it is. When you look at all of its releases, it’s really clear that every artist has been given total free reign. When I started on ‘Epiphany’ and ‘Family Portrait’, I was sending stuff over to Flying Lotus for feedback, and he’d just be like, “yeah this is really good”. Once, I asked him how he could tell if the tracks were done, and he said that he’d release literally whatever I was happy with. To just go forth and make music that was entirely mine. That was really freeing, I think, and led me to make stuff that I might not have thought about before. I think that really shows on ‘Epiphany’.

5. How does the audience respond to a 3-piece LIVE electronic act that comprises of guitar, keys, and a saxophone? Do you feel the current instrumentation in your band finally defines the sound you want to stick to? 

The audience generally responds really well! We’ve just been supporting Flume on his European tour, which has been really fun, and got some pretty good reactions from the crowd. I like doing it live with the three of us, it’s nice going on the road with your mates, and I think it makes for something really special live rather than me stood on my own on-stage just playing out my own tunes. It’s nice to be able to play around with them a bit.

6. What are your thoughts on playing at Magnetic Fields? Is there something exciting that you’ve planned for your set? 

The line-up this year is really cool for Magnetic Fields, I’m definitely looking forward to catching some of the other acts. As for if we’ve got something exciting planned for our set, I guess you’ll just have to come and catch it to see!

There’s some amazing music coming out of the UK. I’m crazy about Overmono at the moment. They make tunes that’re so banging but so detailed—it’s like dumb-smart music. Plus Joy O, his new EP was maybe my favourite release this year. Plus the crossover with Overmono, ‘Bromley’, was exceptional. Also ||||||||||| (pronounced ‘barcode’) has been putting out incredible music this year; superbly produced, half-time drum stuff. Really cool. 

I can’t say that there are many contemporary Indian artists that I follow, but I love the old stuff. Tape recordings of Bollywood films have been an endless source of samples for me over the years. The drums, voices and stringed instruments are always so beautiful.

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