Photo by Fabrice Bourgelle.
“Yeah, that was crazy when he first bigged me up on Twitter,” Felix Clary Weatherall admits, referring to Flying Lotus’ admission that not only was he enjoying his 2017 EP You’ll Understand, he was a big fan of him in general. Less than a year later, he was snapped up by Brainfeeder, initially for the Aphelion EP and now Family Portrait, his debut full length. “I definitely wanted to produce something that felt worthy of Brainfeeder y’know?” he tells me. “It’s been a label that has always pushed such a creative, innovative sound and with the album, I definitely wanted that to come across. But I felt like that was where my music was going at that point, Brainfeeder feels like a perfect fit for me at this point in time.”
This point in time finds Felix busier than ever, zigzagging across the globe, his ear for a remix highly sought after, excelling in support slots alongside the likes of Little Dragon and Bicep while consistently experimenting and pushing the envelope with a live set-up that incorporated two new members last year, which has heavily informed studio work too. “We always share music with each other and I hear things that I’d never hear just sat at home on the computer,” he adds. “When we’re playing live, a lot of the structures and instrumentation dictate where the track will go.”
Despite taking a relatively prolific approach to releases since 2015, it’s difficult to picture Felix finding ample time to record his debut full length. “The album took about two years to record from start to finish,” he explains. “It was a pretty gruelling process, to be honest. But I wanted it to reflect exactly where I wanted to go with music. I’d always dreamt about a full-length album, I’d tried writing one years ago that never came to fruition. But I’m glad I waited until now, working with a record label that really understands and respects where I’m at.”
“I felt that I was pulled into a genre tag that’s considered easy to reproduce and kind of cheap, which is what I don’t consider my music to be…”
That support has produced his debut, a record that wrestles with both the melancholic (‘Wear Me Down’) and euphoric (‘R.A.T.S’) corners of wonky pop and introspective dance music. “I’ve agonised over tracks before, yes,” Felix admits, “but this felt like a different level, to be honest.” It’s undoubtedly paid dividends; Family Portrait is never less than utterly compelling.
It’s the album title, and the reasoning behind it, that resonates the most after multiple listens. Bridging the gap between cold electronics and powerful nostalgia, Felix channels the musical education from his dad throughout Family Portrait, as well as nodding to his parents’ relationship that blossomed over hi-NRG dance, Italo disco and proto-Techno, discovered via old VHS tapes. “This is definitely the most consciously personal music I’ve made,” he confirms. “My parents are always massively influential in everything I do, but I’d never really spent time to think about that influence before I’d made this. I love them and respect them and I wanted to do something that could actively contain a part of them within it.”
He continues: “It’s really nice just spending time on my own and putting together music. In that space I have real freedom to do what I want without thinking about anyone or anything else, and a lot of that time is spent with me tapping into my more emotional side.”
If many were drawn to Ross From Friends primarily for the wacky moniker, they stayed for the tunes. At that point, he’d been warmly embraced by the lo-fi house movement, an outdated comparison in recent times, but one Felix is refreshingly honest when discussing. “I don’t really mind genre tags that much. It’s an important thing for music journalism and to help fans categorise their tastes. But it’s unfortunate that ‘lo-fi’ has gained kind of a negative connotation. I don’t think the genre tag is frustrating for me in itself, but I felt that I was pulled into a genre tag that’s considered easy to reproduce and kind of cheap, which is what I don’t consider my music to be.”
“I don’t know if I’ve really shaken off those genre tags, and I don’t feel too much pressure about it being categorised as ‘lo-fi’,” he shrugs. “I made an album that I’m really pleased with, one that feels really personal to me – for me, the way that it is perceived is secondary to that.”