Blessed with ridiculous heat, non-stop vibes and absolutely no shuffling, Farr Festival really hit the sweet spot this year. Highlights for us included Channel One’s dubby daytime skankers, an incredible live performance from Mount Kimbie and a huge platter of techno artists spread across the two nights. The roster boasted Daniel Avery, Scuba, Midland, and a personal favourite; South London Ordnance. SLO played the Badger Hole; a darkened clearing set within the woods neighboring the main festival site. His brand of rolling, relentless techno ripped up the forest and quite possibly summoned the thunderstorm that later led to the early closure of the woodland area.
The London and South East festival calendar has grown exponentially in recent years and with an increase in quantity often comes a loss in quality. As more and more are churned out it can become clear to see the money spinning behind them and the entire culture begins to lose its soul. Luckily there are still some events out there birthed from the single desire to throw a party; one of which is Farr Festival. We checked out Farr over the weekend to see how they’re doing things differently and in turn discovered one of our favourite festivals of 2014. We’ve compiled a list of the main reasons we’re already keen to get back to the turnip fields of Newnham.
5 Reasons Why We Loved Farr Festival…
We could just list the entire line up here, but we won’t, you can go look. Combining bands, live electronic performances, and DJ sets, Farr managed to cover a spectrum many larger festivals struggle to achieve. By not pigeonholing the festival into a particular genre, one could experience indie, reggae and techno in a single lap of the field meaning a change of pace was never more than two minutes away.
The Woodland Stages
Don’t get us wrong, the main festival area was great; giant hay bales, epic sunset views and all stages had crystal clear sound quality. However it always felt like the real party was in the woods. It was a clear favourite with the punters and as night fell on the Saturday it seemed everyone wanted to get lost in the woods one last time. With massive sets from Detroit Swindle, Tom Trago and Andrew Weatherall, it was a fittingly heady send-off to the weekend’s proceedings. Ending with an emotional sunrise set from Robert Owens, the closing night solidified Farr’s forest wonderland as one of our favourite festival stages of the year.
No shufflers, no jacked up muscle bros, no moody security. Farr succeeded in attracting all the right kinds of festivalgoers alongside some great staff to accommodate them. It was a crowd that was always up for it, even for the early sets, and didn’t end up overly wasted when the night drew in. Being a smaller festival, the limited capacity also meant that even headline performances didn’t collapse into the crush-fests often seen at bigger events.
The Food & Drink
The festival’s proximity to the street food hotbed of London paid off when it came to grabbing some pre-rave sustenance. Farr steered well clear of the health hazard food stalls often seen at festivals and instead conjured up some well-known names in quality street food, including Byron burgers and Voodoo Rays pizza. On top of this, the drinks prices were surprisingly easy on the pocket, with the organisers actually lowering drinks prices compared to last year’s event.
The Live Show by Mount Kimbie
Although the weekend was filled with a number of highlights, Mount Kimbie took the top spot. After wanting to see their live performance for the past few years, they certainly didn’t disappoint. All clearly feeding off each other’s energy, the performance combined the precision of a set practiced a thousand times with the organic, improvisational flow of a jam session. We’re still reeling from it now.
After rising to prominence with releases on Scuba’s Hotflush, SLO has gone on to truly make his mark on the London sound. He has started his own label and run nights under his Aery Metals moniker, all whilst playing shows across the globe, dabbling in graphic design and getting a Law diploma. It’s a combination of talent and work ethic that has us excited to see what the future holds for SLO. We caught up with him before his Farr Festival appearance to discuss record labels, coffee paraphernalia and Metal Gear Solid.
You’ve been all over the place this year, from Italy to Canada and few trips to the White Isle, do you enjoy the travel?
Yeah, it’s profoundly exhausting but I love it. I’m incredibly lucky to get to travel so far to perform. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Aery Metals has been putting out solid releases and even had its first night at Plan B recently. How did the event go?
Thanks! Yeah it was a good party – I’ve been playing Will & Ink’s stuff since they first began the project, so it was great to have them over to headline.
Whats the vibe for the AM events? How do you want to set your events apart?
AM events are very simple – I just invite an act I like and we put them in a small dark room with some people and a big sound system, there’s not a lot more to it than that really! I hope our booking policy will set us apart, and the fact that it’s very no-frills business – we don’t shove it down people’s throats.
What do you hope to achieve with the label? Are you going for a particular ethos for the imprint?
I’m in no rush with the label – I usually know pretty instantly if I really dig a record and I want to sign it, and recently I’ve had some demos through that I like, but that aren’t quite there. I’m more than happy to wait on an artist to send through their best stuff – it’s how it’s always worked for me with labels and a bit of patience always pays off in the end.
Why did you choose the artists you’ve released for? Are you looking for new artists for the label?
I’m always looking to be honest. I came to the guys I’ve worked with / am working with at the moment via the music – via demos and soundcloud. I’m not looking for artists I can change into something – if they fit, they fit, and unfortunately one just knows, it’s quite difficult to explain to be honest.
What releases do you have lined up for the rest of the year?
Personally, I’m just finishing up a new EP for Aery Metals, as well as a 12″ for a record store I used to work in, BM Soho. Otherwise, I’ve got a couple of 12″s I’m waiting on for ATM – you know who you are!
Your releases always have on point artwork, is the branding something that’s important to you?
Sure – I like things to look good. I’m a big fan of design and photography – I don’t see why you would spend so long on a record only to house it in something that was incongruent with your interests. The art and the music should really be reflective of one another, and come together to exist as one singular thing.
You recently talked about the importance of taking a considered approach to marketing your music, does social media play a part in that and what’s your opinion on its place in music as a whole?
Sure, I said don’t be a mug and hassle people who run labels to listen to your music. If your stuff is good, people will listen – and if they’re not replying to your emails it probably means they don’t like your music – but they might in the future! So hold off for a bit and keep making tracks till you’ve got something more palatable for the person you’re trying to approach. It’s just common sense stuff really – but I say that like humility and basic manners aren’t worryingly scarce resources in 2014.
R.e. social media – just remember when you’re making untoward comments or sharing personal stuff, that the scene is very small and it’s the equivalent of standing on the corner of a street where all your industry mates are, and shouting these comments very loudly. That’s all really.
What’s your opinion on the growth of websites to stream DJ sets and the fact anyone can see your set for free online?
I really don’t mind to be honest. If you think there’s any similarity between sitting in your boxer shorts at home with a takeaway and watching your favorite DJ’s play via the web and actually going out and seeing them in the flesh, there’s probably something wrong with you anyway. I like doing stuff like Boiler Room – and I don’t mind it when, for example, RA do the streams of ENTER. or whatever – it just adds a different angle to the performance and people should be less afraid of change and embrace these new platforms.
When you’re not producing/DJing/Running a label, is there any room for any other side project/hobbies?
I spend a lot of time illustrating and doing graphic design stuff, painting etc - generally making mess. I’m working on a live project at the moment as well under a different alias – that’s taking up a lot of my time to be honest.
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To find out more about Farr Festival www.farrfestival.co.uk
To hear more South London Ordnance, check out his latest RA mix by clicking here
Words by David March