On the surface, much of the programming in electronic music appears to have become repetitive and tired. You’ll have a good time, sure, but it can feel like you’re stumbling upon the same names time and time again, on a circuit that starts to resemble a grinding conveyor belt. Festival season follows a similar line, with many competitors booking the same acts year on year. Luckily, that’s where Farr comes in.
Growing steadily since its inception nine years ago, the team behind Farr have earned their reputation thanks to immersive production and balanced line-ups; booking both eye-catching established names and newer blood. The 2018 edition feels like a crowning glory of sorts. The festival extends to include a Sunday bill for the first time in its history, “a potent showcase of dub, reggae, minimal and disco”, while the rest of the weekend draws from all corners of electronic music and includes a plethora of world-renowned selectors.
DJ Seinfeld’s 2017 debut album Time Spent Away From U was an unexpected delight that firmly established itself as one of my most played records of the year. Weaving sultry, nostalgic samples with meticulous beats instilled Seinfield’s LP with surprisingly devastating emotional depth, while the recent Sakura EP found him once again moving past the confines of his lo-fi house tag and exploring darker sonic territories.
Kelly Lee Owens
Another colossal artist that ruled 2017 with a blistering debut, 2018 finds Kelly Lee Owens remixing Bjork and thrilling swelling crowds around the world. Her engrossing live show delivers growling techno to dancefloor fillers. She brings the aforementioned to Farr on the back of glittering acclaim, not only as one of the most exciting artists on the lineup, but undoubtedly as one of the UK’s most unique talents too.
There’s a strong case to be made that Skee Mask has produced one of the best albums of the year in Compro – out last month on Ilian Tape. A heady blend of woozy electronica, fractured drum and bass and gorgeous ambient reflection, it feels like a major coup for Farr to secure his only UK festival date of the summer, a move that should see him deservedly garner plenty more admirers.
If you’re hoping to put your finger on one artist that effortlessly flits between the breadth of styles on Farr’s stacked lineup, Josey Rebelle should fit the bill nicely. Masterfully strafing between house, techno, disco, jungle and everything in between. As avid listeners of her unmissable Rinse FM show will enthusiastically attest, her sets promise unparalleled, dance-fuelled abandon.
Boasting a handful of Lobster Theremin’s most renowned releases, Ozel AB draws inspiration from acid, Tom Waits and a whole lot more. His tracks are quietly addictive, but it’s a refusal to be pigeonholed that resonates the most, making him one of the most intriguing electronic artists operating today. A subtly impressive booking, if only because Ozel AB could well deliver one of the most unpredictable, mind-bending, and exciting sets of the festival.
Farr Festival takes place in Bygrave Woods, Hertfordshire from 5th to 8th July 2018.
Photo by Khris Cowley for Here & Now.