Friend Within exploded onto the scene just this past month or so, but with his identity shrouded in mystery, the moniker could unknowingly be hiding any household name. His “debut” EP, The Game, was released via the do-no-wrong dirtybird records imprint and catapulted the alias into underground success. His sound is much of what you would expect from a dirtybird signee: heavy 808s and fat bass that drives the song through the end and keep the asses on the dancefloor shaking. Since The Game‘s release, Friend Within has offered up a steady stream of remixes and compilation work for the likes of Pets Recordings, New State of Music, and Hypercolour Records.
Download: The Cause – Friend Within
The Dankles: Thanks for sitting down with us, Friend Within. Why don’t you start off by telling us a little about yourself.
Friend Within: Friend Within started about 6 months ago in my head, so that’s as far back as it goes. I’ve been around before, but that was my new “Big Bang” moment.
TD: How did you come up with the name Friend Within? What significance does the name hold to you personally?
FW: There’s a cat that comes into my garden whose name I don’t know. I started calling it Friend (in the style of The Inbetweeners). The rest came from trial and error. I like the way it feels: open and welcoming.
TD: Your identity has been shrouded in a lot of mystery. Could you give us a subtle hint as to who you may be?
FW: No hints I’m afraid.
TD: How difficult has it been to keep your identity a secret? And why not reveal yourself?
FW: It’s been fun watching people guess. I sometimes think the mystery is more exciting than the reveal, so I’m not planning on telling anytime soon. It also negates any preconceptions. Furthermore, it’s amazing how much a pair of glasses can change your appearance. It works for Superman.
TD: What did you listen to as a child? What was the first album you bought? And how has that influenced the music you’re creating today?
FW: Dance music is all I’ve ever listened to, really. I’m not saying it was always underground and cool, but back then a big house track would often make it into the charts and that was how I heard stuff. The first album was a rave compilation on cassette. It’s not hard to connect the dots from then until now.
TD: More recently, what artists do you think have been affecting your production style the most?
FW: Hearing tracks by Eats Everything and Shadow Child opened my eyes to a new direction. It’s almost like back-to-basics house music.
TD: What do you listen to in your free time?
FW: My free time doesn’t contain anything to do with music. Whatever’s on the juke box down my local is what I hear in my down time.
TD: You’ve been working very closely with the dirtybird crew recently, releasing “The Pull” on their Dirtybird Players compilation series and your debut EP The Game earlier this year via the dirtybird imprint. What’s it like working with such an energetic, fun, and talented crew?
FW: I was so pleased to have my first tracks on Dirtybird. It, along with Hypercolour, was the label I had in mind when embarking on this Friend Within project.
TD: How has working with them influenced the sound and DJ style?
FW: With amazing artists like Claude VonStroke and Justin Martin, you better make sure your tracks are good in order to fit in with their bulging release schedule. I’ve not actually had much interaction with the whole crew apart from a little bit on Twitter, but it feels nice being a Dirtybird Player.
TD: You have an upcoming release with Hypercolour Recordings and a massive remix of Wildchild’s “Renegade Master.” Could you tell us a little about both and what else to expect from you in 2013?
FW: Hypercolour was actually the first label to sign my tracks. A 4-track EP will be landing soon. I put one of the tracks on a mix I did, so get hunting for that if you want a sneak-peek. The Renegade Master refix started out as a VIP to play in my sets. I gave it to a few other DJs like Claude VonStroke and Shadow Child and its popularity has grown from there. A very exciting new label has picked it up for release. There’re a lot of sample issues involved, so it’s taking a little while to sort out. The same label has picked up 3 other tracks of mine, which will be out later in the year. I’ve also been asked to do quite a few remixes, but I can’t really say what they are at the moment.
TD: What are you most excited to release?
FW: The most exciting release is probably Renegade Master as I think it could have quite a broad appeal.
TD: What’s your studio look like? What’s your favorite piece of hardware? And what VSTs do you like to use the most?
FW: Studio is really simple: PC Laptop, affordable 7” monitors and a midi keyboard. I did treat myself to a 27” monitor screen recently, which makes things a lot more pleasant. I use Ableton Live 9, Reason and NI Komplete 7 mostly. The iZotope plugins are awesome. Plus I’m not averse to using sample packs.
TD: What’s your production process like? How long does it take you to finish a track? And what vibe are you trying to create with each song?
FW: I usually start with a beat. Keep it simple…and then go through some VST pre-sets or sample packs for a lead sound. I like percussive, stabby sounds with short attacks. The FX you use in the process chain from here is just as important as the initial sound. Experiment as much as possible and save anything good you do for other projects if they don’t fit in now.
In terms of vibe, I always like tracks with a good impact point in there somewhere. I love a good solid drop after the breakdown, so that’s where I spend most of my time.
TD: How would you describe your sound personally?
FW: House music with a focus on the low-end frequencies. Plus a nod to garage.
TD: How would that description differ if you were trying to explain it to your grandfather?
FW: I’d tell my granddad it is dance music that went boom-tish-boom-tish.
TD: When you’re spinning up on the decks, what atmosphere are you trying to create? What is the response you’re trying to get from the crowd?
FW: Ultimately it’s about having a good time. I want to give people an opportunity to cut loose; moments to groove and times to reach up and touch the ceiling. If the crowd is dancing as much as I am then job done. DJing is fun!
TD: Describe your favorite experience you’ve had while DJing?
FW: My favourite Friend Within experience has been seeing the reactions to my Renegade Master refix. Makes me feel tingly inside.
TD: How about your worst experience?
FW: When the CDJs aren’t linked up properly. That’s annoying.
TD: If you could choose any DJ to go B2B with, at any club in the world, where would you be and with whom?
FW: I did a back to back with Shadow Child just recently and it was great fun. I’ve not really done it much before, but I loved it. I’d be more than happy to do it again at Space in Ibiza.
TD: What’s the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
FW: Friend Within does no harm.
TD: Any upcoming shows that we could catch you playing at?
FW: In this order: London, Southampton, Manchester, Birmingham, Portsmouth, Glasgow, Coventry, Edinburgh, Brighton, Nottingham, Bristol, Exter, Birkenhead! Check my Facebook (facebook.com/FriendWithin) for updates!
TD: Thanks again for sitting down with us. Any shout outs?
FW: Shouts to my Friends, of course!