Since kicking off the FRIEND WITHIN project back in 2013, the Liverpool based banger beatmaker has served release after release packed with his penchant for bass and his ability to deliver high-quality, memorable music moments.
With a stack of releases under his belt with labels such as DFTD, Rinse, Dirtybird and now Mark Knight's seminal dance label Toolroom, Friend Within's sound over the years has varied so much it's really cool to see him working with so many different labels. With such variety to his name, it's hard to pin down any one thing he explores because each release continually keeps us on our toes.
His latest comes in the form of 'The Truth', and if its sun-kissed funk isn't enough to make you want to dance, I don't know what will.
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This one's all about the vocal sample, the vibe hinging off that one repeated hook. The rest is a cascade of apt sounds and rhythms that have been appropriately placed to really boost the effect that hook has. He knows exactly when to add more and when to pull away, using a cheeky low-pass filter on that long build up to really solidify that this track damn well slaps.
Keys, trumpets and a menagerie of percussive sounds guide 'The Truth' further down the funk trail, and at the track's closing, you're left wanting another taste.
Friend Within's heading back to Aussie shores this weekend for a few cheeky shows, so we asked him a couple of questions about the track and what can be expected of his shows here.
‘The Truth’ is the perfect summer anthem, but still keeps in step with your penchant for hard-hitting dance tracks. Can you tell us a bit about what it took to put this track together?
This track was all to do with finding the right sample. The original funk sample is a lot slower but I discovered that it still sounded great a lot faster – it really gave it a new energy. The drums are really important on it too, I think. I processed them quite heavily – more than usual for one of my tracks. I wanted the whole thing to feel like an old Daft Punk track so the compression and filtering was so important. Daft Punk don’t seem to want to make this kind of music any more so I’ve decided to do it myself!
You’ve made a massive dent on the electronic music scene across the world, releasing on seminal labels such as Defected, Dirtybird, Rinse, Toolroom and heaps more as well as collaborating with the likes of Disclosure, Claptone and more. Do you find that working with heaps of different labels and artists continues to push you to innovate?
The real reason I’ve released on different imprints is because my music changes and it doesn’t suit just one label. ‘Lonely’ would never sound right on Dirtybird and ‘The Hollow’ would never sound right on Toolroom. I’m really happy right now starting this relationship with Toolroom as they are one of the finest UK labels going. They are also looking to push things forward and be the frontrunners of house music so I’m in a good place.
You made the switch to house music from electro when this project began back in 2013. What’s been the most rewarding aspect of creating music that feels most like ‘you’?
I’ve always made music that fell like me. I couldn’t do it any other way. Yes, I made quite a switch in 2013 but it was actually a switch back to what I was making in my early days. Go and listen to a track of mine called Lilly from 2005. My music progresses over time and I just needed to refocus. The most rewarding thing was that I discovered I could reposition myself musically and people were still into it. I did have doubts I could make anything other than electro but going back to house music actually released a load of new ideas inside me.
The last five years has seen you pack so much into them. With multiple singles, tours and even a longer-form release this year in the form of a playlist, has slowing down ever been a thought?
I just love to make music every day and am so lucky to be able to do that. Slowing down would probably mean me sitting in front of the TV instead of being in my studio and that does not sound like something I’d like to do! I’ve found something that I love to do and have put everything into it possible. Not everybody gets that opportunity. I ask people what they would like to do all day and many can’t give me an answer. Finding your passion is not always straight-forward. Slowing down is not something I can physically do, I think.
You’re heading back to Australia in December to play some shows in Perth and Melbourne. Have you been planning your sets for these shows? What’s the vibe going to be like?
I never plan a set. I don’t even know what I’m going to play 1 minute before I get behind the decks! That’s what keeps DJing exciting for me. I suppose because I come to Australia just once a year I might be inclined to play more of my own tracks, but who knows? I might end up playing in a small sweaty room at 5am and play mainly techno! You just never know until you get there. The vibe is – prepare to dance.
Geisha pres Friend Within
Friday, December 14
Geisha Bar - 135a James Street, Northbridge WA
More info here.
Prince. Official Petting Zoo 2018 Afterparty
Saturday, December 15
Prince - 29 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda VIC
Grab your tix here.
Words by CAITLIN MEDCALF