'Ross from Friends' On the Skate-World Music You Need to Hear
We spoke to the producer about skateboarding, rave nostalgia and the joy of goody music.
Image: No Comply Network; Left and right photos: Fabrice Bourgelle
The No Comply Network is a London-based, UK-wide network of artistically creative skateboarders, founded by Birmingham-born skater Jason Caines. Every week, we'll be profiling a new No Comply member.
Felix Weatherall makes electronic music under the alias Ross from Friends. You may already know of him; it's not an alias that's easy to forget. We met by chance after I'd been round a friend's house bumping Felix's song, "Talk to Me You'll Understand", and he asked me how I'd heard his housemate's music. I'd assumed Ross from Friends was American, not some English dude who lived down the road from me.
Right now, Ross from Friends is continuing to kill it, with dates booked all over the world and his music being released by Flying Lotus' label Brainfeeder. What many of his fans don't know is that it was skateboarding that originally got Felix stoked on making music. We had a chat about skating and musical creativity, the skate brands that inspire him and why he's always listening out for something that makes him think, 'That's so dumb.'
For me, there has always been an important relationship between skateboarding and music. Not only in a directly audio-visual sense – which you see often in a skaters' music choice in their video parts, which often epitomises their personality and tastes – but also that you learn through being raised in skate culture, a community of musically and creatively-minded people: my friends.
As a kid, skateboarding was all about having fun and doing the goofiest tricks you could to make your mates laugh. This aspect of skateboarding for me hasn't changed at all. I love to not take skateboarding seriously, and try to keep it how it was for me when I was younger. I admire skaters like Kevin Rodrigues, who skates for Fucking Awesome; Jamal Smith; and, of course, Mark "The Gonz" Gonzales, who – alongside being hugely talented – have clearly all stuck to that same ethos, and in doing so have become prominent figures in skating.
The goofiness and nostalgia that I love about skateboarding completely resonates with my relationship to music; there's no doubt the two are connected. When I'm making or listening to music, the parts that always stand out to me are the ones that make me laugh, or think, 'That's so dumb' – it adds to the fun element of music.
As well as this, projecting a feeling of nostalgia can be such a lovely tool in any creative practice; it gives the listener or the viewer the ability to take themselves back to a point in their lives that they have a particular memory of, and enjoy it in a modern setting. This is something I hope comes across in my own music.
I've always been inspired by The Trilogy Tapes (TTT), a record label headed up by Will Bankhead, one of the designers at Palace Skateboards, and Rezzett. They were all front-runners of the whole retro VHS movement and its association with dance music and skateboarding. When I first saw Palace and Rezzett's videos in 2013, the aesthetic immediately interested me and largely inspired me to experiment with the same feeling in music production.
At the moment, I'm really into Absurd Skateboards. I feel like they're capturing that same essence that Palace did, where they're combining skating with dance music and that feeling of nostalgia. The nostalgia with Absurd feels like it's more a reference to an early DIY YouTube generation, with Windows Movie Maker effects, lame green-screen work and stop-motion animation. I really like it, though. Their videos introduced me to a lot of great music as well.
My plans for the future? I'm always making music, and I’m working on some wicked fun collaborations.