Features November 21, 2018

Promoter Ben Tillman on why Farmer & The Owl is more experimental than elder sibling Yours & Owls

Promoter Ben Tillman on why Farmer & The Owl is more experimental than elder sibling Yours & Owls
Image: Ben Tillman

Wollongong festival Yours And Owls has now solidified into a successful format: mostly triple j supported names headlined by a triple j high playlist act.

It sells out in hours, draws 25,000 over a weekend, of whom 50%–60% come from outside Wollongong.

So what did the promoters decide to do for their next festival? Throw the rule nook up in the air and try something totally different for Farmer And The Owl in early autumn.

The bill is curated by bands from Yours & Owl’s record label, Hockey Dad, Totally Unicorn, The Pinheads, TEES and Tropical Strength.

“It’s a lot more experimental, and it’ll be interesting to see if it works,” promoter Ben Tillman tells TMN.

“Basically everyone just went ahead and came up with their own lists of whom they wanted to see.

“We ended up with a really eclectic bill of acts where you don’t expect to see play together, which gives it a real interesting dynamic.”

Some suggestions were understandable but unrealistic – like The Flamin’ Grooves and New Order.

But the first artist announcement this morning had the likes of J Mascis, Ed Kuepper’s The Aints and No Mono,  the new project from prolific artist and producer Tom Iansek (#1 Dads/Big Scary) and Tom Snowdon (Lowlakes).

Others also announced this morning are from all over the world.

There is dream pop (Beach House. Shining Bird) and rock genre shifters (Deafheaven, Totally Unicorn, Flyying Colours, A Place To Bury Strangers).

The singer-songwriter contingent is repped by WA’s Stella Donnelly and Carla Geneve, and Snail Mail’s Lindsay Jordan,

There’s punk (Joyce Manor, Amyl & The Sniffers, RVG, The Garden,) cool soul (Rhye) and alt-pop (Detroit’s Flint Eastwood, Sydney/ Melbourne trio Retiree, Brisbane’s Clea).

The electronica element comes from all over: Banoffee and Planète from Melbourne, Alan Braxe from France, and longtime LCD Soundsystem synthesist Gavin Rayna Russom.

Farmer And The Owl is only targeting 3,500 people in its first year held on Saturday, March 2 at the Gong’s McCabe Park.

Because up to 60—70 bands will ultimately be playing, the idea is to let the audience discover these acts in different ways.

There ate different spaces in the park including an amphitheatre, industrial warehouse spaces on the border, and grassy laneways between buildings.

As different as the two festivals are, they both take their spirit and discovery from Wollongong’s current renaissance.

“We always described Yours and Owls not so much as a festival but a  big party made up of everything that is happening in Wollongong through the year.

“We come together in one point of time. We put all our learning and whatever we’ve been working on through the year and it creates this very special thing which is bigger than what everyone is doing rest of the year individually.

“To me, the Wollongong scene is very much like Melbourne’s, with a strong sense of community and everyone’s supportive of each other.

“But Wollongong’s still a coastal town and everyone’s laid back as well.”

Related articles