Joe Farr on Techno Experimentation, The Creative Process and Being Forgetful

We chat with UK Techno producer Joe Farr who is about to release his debut LP and shares insight into his musical outlook
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We chat with UK Techno producer Joe Farr who is about to release his debut LP and shares insight into his musical outlook
JoeFarr studio.jpg

Since emerging in 2011, Bristolian Joe Farr has built up quite the reputation for his ferocious techno stylings and forward thinking productions.

Charting releases on Leisure System, Hypercolour and Tiga’s Turbo imprint, his recent musings see a more abstract and textural approach to techno, leaning away from the standard 4/4 grooves we hear week in, week out.

We wanted to get to know a bit more about the man himself, so we caught up with him to talk about his live set up, forgetful nature, and his debut album out on Bloc’s label counterpart.

Let’s kick off by delving back into the past - what’s your earliest musical memory?

My memory is not my strong point, ask my Mrs. I’m forever forgetting the most basic bits of information, and I don’t remember much before the age of 10. What was the question?

When did you start producing? Was it a natural progression after you started DJ'ing or had it always remained the incentive?

I started DJ’ing when I was about 15 and producing when I was 17. I was inspired to DJ by my cousin Patrick (RIP) and then producing was a curiosity really. I had bass lessons and my tutor had logic and a rack of old Emu and Akai gear, which made me want to learn more. I wish now I had stuck with the bass as well but there was something that hooked me in with sequencing and synthesis, I was zoned in on that and I still am.

Where do you draw influence from? Are you influenced by a wealth of genres or purely electronic music?

All sorts. I listen to everything. Apart from music that is purely written for commercial gain, I believe there is great music in (almost) every genre, as long as someone has put their soul into it.

It's always fascinating to hear about a DJ's creative process, can you let us into yours?

I’m not really conscious of having a creative process for DJ’ing. I start by gathering music, and I am very picky so it takes a while to find music I am happy to play, then because my taste is quite eclectic, I then try and find ways to mix these quite different tracks together. Mixing music of the same style all night just doesn’t appeal to me, I strive to find interesting tracks to keep me on my toes as well as the crowd. I definitely have some sections that flow a bit more, say with 3 or 4 rollers but then I usually feel something needs to change, I need to surprise people.

You do a live hardware show as well as DJ sets, do you prefer working with your live setup? What’s your setup like?

It’s an Octatrack, a RYTM and an Akai controller. It’s roughly mapped out with loads of patches on the RYTM and a bunch of samples on the OT. I’ve been tweaking the latest set for about six months and it’s now at the stage where I can change the mood. That’s something I’ve struggled with in the past, like if the crowd are not really up for super banging stuff, I can steer in a different direction if I need to. I love doing live and DJ’ing but, like with anything, it’s nice to have variety.

Onto your new LP - it must be exciting to work with Bloc, how did that come about? Did they approach you?

It is an exciting time, and they really took care of the LP, I’m very happy with how it turned out. I first got to know Ben, who runs the label side of Bloc, when he heard a remix I did for Ansome and then tracked me down. We skyped and it turned out we have friends in common, and similar music tastes.

Has it been a good fit for your musical exploits? How has it compared with other labels you've released on?

We are well suited, it’s early days for the label but things are going well.

We want to hear who you hotly tip, any producers you think we should be listening to? Any American favourites?

Deapmash is one to watch, every time I play his tunes the earth shakes and people go nuts. 138 are my US favourites right now.

Now the LP has been released, what’s next on the cards? Any festival appearances lined up over summer?

I’m not even sure what I’m doing next week let alone the summer, I expect there are a few in the diary. I have an EP coming up in a few months, I’ve just moved house and am setting up a new studio, and album number two is underway. Onnset, the label I co-run is onto its sixth release, it’s a difficult thing running a label, but we are running smoothly, hitting deadlines and releasing on schedule. My next Onnset EP will be after the summer.

Finally, have you got any plans to come and play across the pond?

The US is a tricky one, as you know it’s only worth it for promoters if multiple dates are on the cards, what with flight shares and the visa. It would be great, hopefully I will get the opportunity.

Sense of Purpose is available now on vinyl and digital on Bloc.