Friendly: Flying the Friendly skies

“One good thing about moving cities is you’ve got a clean slate. You can start again without anyone having expectations. You can define yourself and be creative without feeling like people expect you to do the same thing.”

Two and a half years ago, producer/DJ Andrew Kornweibel, aka Friendly, packed his Australian career in bags and headed to Londontown. Leaving behind hits like ‘Some Kind of a Love Song’, ‘I Love You But…’ and ‘My Mother was a DJ’, Friendly swapped it all for a British boarding pass with every intention of reinvention.

And despite London being “miserable, raining, horrible” at present, the born-again breakbeat producer is having a ball. Choice cuts like ‘S&M’, ‘Fetish’ and ‘The Bump and Grind’ have scored rave reviews in UK music rags and been spun by the Plump DJs, Rennie Pilgrem and James Zabiela – just to name a few. Taking a break from making beats (and baking beans), he’s just released the ‘Chew the Fat!’ mix CD for Paul Arnold’s Fat! Records and is pimping it down under this month.

Be honest – what’s the biggest thing you’re missing about Australia?

I’m really missing the food. Over here, it’s absolutely appalling. I say that to English people and they’re shocked, but you say that to any European or Australian and they totally agree. If you pay good money, you can get good food, but it’s fucken good money. They don’t know how to make coffee. It’s really weird. They’re right next to Europe, but they still can’t make it.

How do you reflect back on your career in Australia?

It was pretty crazy… I don’t look back on it too much, ‘cause I’m so focused on getting it happening here. I don’t sit here reminiscing about when I used to have money (laughs). They were good times, doing the big festivals, earning enough money to live comfortably. At the same time, I’m happier now where I am now as far as creativity. The Australian market is very radio-orientated, whereas it’s a lot more vinyl orientated here. Over here, you get encouraged to do exactly what you want to do. In Australia you can do quite well sounding like very other band overseas.  

How does the London headspace differ from the Australian one?

I think it’s more open-minded. I think London is shit scared about missing out on the next big thing. They kinda missed out in a few different genres. With drum and bass so many people missed it and all of a sudden, it was massive, and it still is. People were like ‘Shit, we didn’t even write about that in DJ Mag.’ So now they’re so worried about missing out and not being on that bandwagon, they’re championing anyone which is great.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt over there so far?

How to deal with baked beans on a daily basis. You can put mushrooms with them and that gives them a completely different flavour to if you put tomatoes in. Nah, keeping true to yourself and only doing what you believe in. The more I’ve stuck to that, the greater rewards I’ve had. I’ve turned down big remixes from very big record companies ‘cause I don’t like the song. I can’t name the acts without insulting them, but I knew what they wanted – generic Fatboy Slim kinda stuff… If I’m not feeling it, then I don’t wanna do it.

What plans do you have up your sleeve for the next 12 months?

I’m working a lot with a singer called Rakhahn, who’s actually from Australia as well. I heard him on the Black Grass album, where he sang the two best tunes. I thought ‘I need to get in touch with him’. My friend was like ‘there’s no way, the whole of London is looking for him’. The next morning I got up and Googled him and I had his phone number, his address and an email from him within half an hour saying he was interested…

He’s got this amazing voice and writes really good lyrics. We wrote a few tracks together and then I was like ‘fuck it, this is a way forward.’ I cut myself free from some other projects and we’ve been writing together heaps. It’s still definitely Friendly, just with someone singing over it.

So this will be part of the new album?

That’s where we’re heading. I don’t want to do an album of 12 breakbeat tracks, which might sound good in a club and not at home. And I’m doing it with a view to going live again… you can convey a lot more personality than you can DJing in most cases.

What’s with your song titles? Do you pull them out of porn mags or what?

It was just a running theme for a while. It got people talking so that was all good. I just wrote a track for the handheld Playstation game, Wipe Out, and managed to incorporate the car aspect and the porn aspect. I called it ‘We Got Juice’.

How much fun did you have putting together the ‘Chew the Fat!’ compilation?

It was good actually, it’s one of those things every DJ wants to do. Licensing’s always a nightmare ‘cause I want so many acapellas and abstract tracks. We had to miss out on a few unfortunately. I’m really happy with it, and it’s what I was playing at the time. Compilations can get a bit dated by the time they come out, but I’m still playing most of those tunes which is good. There’s quite a few exclusives on it, and the acapellas make it my own. It just makes it twice as expensive.

Do you ever play any of your old stuff? Have you been tempted to remix ‘My Mother was a DJ’?

No, I even managed to wipe that from the set before I left Australia. When I was in Dubai, I had an Australian girl beg me to play ‘Some Kind of a Love Song’ which was pretty funny. I’d have a very hard time trying to mix it with breakbeat. It’s only 90 BPM!

Friendly’s latest mix CD, ‘Chew the Fat! at The End’, is out now on Fat!/Inertia. You can catch him touring the east coast of Australia this May:

Fri May 6th – Byron Bay, C-Moog
Sat May 7th – Brisbane, Moon Bar
Sun May 8th – Sydney, Sounds on Sunday
Fri May 13th – Sydney, Hijack