Music Producer, Radio 1 DJ and Label Owner Friction talks inspiration and iZotope

Music Producer, Radio 1 DJ and Label Owner Friction talks inspiration and iZotope

UK based Friction is a man of many talents, not only is he a hugely successful DJ with a show on BBC Radio 1, but he also has a record label - Shogun Audio and is an established music producer in his own right.

Following his first commercial output in 1999, Friction A.K.A. Ed Keeley has had his music released on many major UK dance music labels including Valve, Tru Playaz, Renegade Hardware, 31 Records, Charge and Hospital Records. His music has been played by many top DJs including Pete Tong, Judge Jules, Annie Mac and the Stanton Warriors.

Knowing Friction was a big fan of iZotope audio processing software, we caught up with the man himself to get the scoop...

OK, let´s start at the beginning, what first inspired you to start making music?

When I first got into music I initially wanted to just be a DJ, the likes of Carl Cox and Randall were a major inspiration, watching them do their thing was incredible. When I started to breakthrough as a DJ I quickly realised that I was going to need to make my own music to get to that next level. I never really had the studio links early on, but they came eventually and I started making tunes. 

Over the last 12 years you have had music released with a variety of different flavours on many top labels, how would you put the Friction sound into words?

I’ve always just written what I’ve felt predominantly. I was mainly writing dancefloor tunes that I could play out in my sets and get a crowd reaction. I still make big dancefloor tunes but now and again if you have a bad day the emotion can take you in a certain way, you’ll sit in the studio and write something that is nasty and off key.

That’s the beautiful thing about music, you can go in so many different directions. To put the Friction sound into words I’d say, how I’m feeling at that time in music.

Most people will probably know you more for being a DJ than a producer, in which role do you feel the most comfortable?

Up until the last year I was always more comfortable DJing. But a couple of years ago I started getting a bit disillusioned with the number of people DJing in clubs that couldn’t actually DJ, they were simply premixing their sets. This just really made me want to get in the studio and write more.

In the last 2 years I’ve had ‘Stand Up’ with Camo & Krooked, ‘Someone’ a track I did featuring a R&B singer from the UK called McLean and then my most recent single ‘Led Astray’, alongside that I’ve had some underground tracks like ‘Jupiter’ a track I did with K-Tee on the last ‘Way of the Warrior’ album on Shogun, and remixed Wretch 32, Example, Maverick Sabre, and Doctor P’s ‘Sweet Shop’ with Camo & Krooked.

All this has made me feel a lot more comfortable producing. So now I’d say both, I’ve really got to sit on the fence with this answer, it’s literally equal at the moment.

Can you tell us a bit about your creative process when it comes to music production? Do you usually tend to start tracks in the same way or is it different each time?

Basically, there’s two ways I can start a track, one is if I’ve got a sample or some kind of idea for a hook, I’ll start building music around it and then add the beats later.

For instance ‘Led Astray’ I had a sample that I started playing loads of music around, tried a 2-step drum and bass beat, it sounded ok, but then went for the halftime thing and ‘Led Astray’ was born. The other way tracks come about is I might just start playing with a beat I think sounds good and then begin to build stuff around that. 

We read that you are an Apple Logic user, has that always been the case and what is it about Logic that you think gives it the edge?

The edge for me, with Logic, is that it is what I have always used. I´ve never really taken the time out to learn another sequencer, it has not really occurred to me. When I’ve done the odd collab with someone I might have used Fruity Loops or Cubase. I really noticed the benefits of using Cubase to work with audio, but I am just as happy using Logic.

For what type of scenarios would you typically use iZotope Alloy in your studio?

Alloy for me, can really just add that ‘kick’ and ‘punch’ to my tracks, especially with my kick drums, snares and the transients. I’ve religiously used it over the past year. There are other iZotope products that I use like Ozone, in which I use the limiter, the imagers and exciters. Then there’s the multi-band element which enables me to really go in on the percussion side of things, helps me really pinpoint where I want to add bite.

What do you think makes Alloy different from the other effects plug-ins that you have available to use?

I would again say the multiband element as it allows me to pinpoint the frequencies. That is something that I am really fond of with all the iZotope products, that I can really hone in on the frequency that I want to work on and it's so precise, especially because in this day and age your mixes have to be so spot on.

If you could create your own software plug-in what would it be and why?

I spend a lot of time EQ’ing drums, breaks, sounds, vocals and I would love some kind of plugin that would tell me where I would need to put my spikes into the EQ of a vocal for example, some sort of analyser that would basically tell me where to EQ so I don’t have to go through the trial and error of cutting the different frequencies, something that would just show me the ones that needed ducking, it would save me so much time. But then the way that we are going, if we have too many plug-ins we won’t actually be making the tunes anymore!

Congratulations on getting a show on Radio 1, but with your relentless DJ schedule, how do you manage to fit in time for music production?

I work on a lot of my ideas while I’m on the road, I find that’s the best place. I do get time in the studio but its hard to find when I’m DJ’ing every week, doing A&R for my label Shogun, the radio show and trying to get hold of new tunes, luckily I do have good people around me that help me make time, but it's definitely not easy. But I love what I do, so can’t really complain!

To find out more information on DJ Friction visit his artist page on the Shogun Audio website.