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Interview: Friend Within On Launching His Label Undercuts & Touring Barbershops

Friend Within is launching his label Undercuts with "underground cuts for clubs.”
Friend Within

Friend Within

Lee Mortimer, better known now as Friend Within, is taking the step that many DJs end up doing when they reach a certain point in their career – launch a label. Today marks the launch of his label Undercuts that will focus on his own more “underground cuts for clubs” and mustaches. The name is built around barbershops, where he will actually be taking his Undercuts label on a special tour this spring.

Undercuts will be a Toolroom Records imprint and Friend Within says he has no plans on signing anybody else’s music at the moment. Inaugurating the label is a new EP from Friend Within, Undercuts Vol. 1 with two new cuts that give you a good idea of what he is trying to build with the label.

We chatted with Friend Within to learn more about why he is launching this label now, some lessons he has taken away from working with other labels and what is going on with his Barbershop tour. Sign up for his event at Cuts and Bruises Barbershop & Parlour in London here.

Why did you decide to launch a label now, what can we expect?

The tracks I’ve been putting out over the past 18 months have all had great support on radio and streaming sites, but I still love to make music for dark, sweaty clubs. I wanted to make a home for these underground jams. It’ll just be my own tracks to start with and I've got 3 EPs ready to go for the rest of the year. All the tunes have been heavily road-tested in said sweaty clubs.

Why did you name your label Undercuts and explain the barbershop theme.

As I mentioned before the tunes are all about underground cuts for clubs. I love a good pun so the name came easy! The barber theme stems from the ridiculous mustache I have growing on my face. A good old-fashioned barbershop is a damn cool place with a great aesthetic so it made sense.

We understand you plan on going on a Barbershop label launch tour, can you tell us a bit about that.

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I always need to go to the barbers to top up on mustache wax so I thought why not combine DJing with a bit of shopping?! There some really sweet barbershops around that would make great places to have a little party or boiler room. Come and get your haircut and a Friend Within tattoo whilst listening to good music! Please note it’s not just for hairy blokes, I’d love to do a disco at a lush spa.

Why did you partner with Toolroom on the label?

My last 3 releases have been on Toolroom and I couldn’t be happier with the way things have gone. They have a great team of people behind the scenes that run the show and they really got the idea of Undercuts. They know I’m not just about making hands-in-the-air bangers so it’s a great match.

What lessons good and bad have you taken away from working with other labels?

It’s tough being a record label now. The biggest ones now don’t just release music, they’re a brand that put on parties, manage artist, run production courses and more. This can open up a lot of opportunities for an artist but you may also get lost in a release schedule that puts out a tune every week or 2. Ultimately if your music is good enough it will shine through but don’t underestimate how important it is to be with a label with a good promo team. Also, if you’re doing a remix for a major label don’t expect any kind of communication about when you mix will be released or where people can buy it!

What services does your label plan on doing for artists in the immediate and potentially in the future?

Well the plan is to just release my own music so I’m putting all my resources into promoting this new producer called Friend Within. Go check him out!

Who owns the masters?

They’re my masters. You can’t have them!

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