From its humble beginnings as a celebration of punk and hardcore at venues scattered throughout Los Angeles, FYF Fest (originally known as F*ck Yeah Fest) has grown into the city’s most beloved festival, a favorite for locals and a trip-worthy weekend for music fans from around the world. This year’s lineup was, for lack of a less-cliché term, EPIC. The bill included icons from Missy Elliott and Bjork to A Tribe Called Quest and Nine Inch Nails, as well as the year’s top artists like Frank Ocean, Solange, Perfume Genius, Thundercat and more.
We partnered with The Impossible Project to document two of our favorite rising acts at the festival, snapping Polaroids, talking music, and of course, breaking it down on the dance floor.
FYF Fest came at a particularly poignant time for Kelly Lee Owens, the Welsh-born musician whose eponymous debut album we can’t stop listening to. The weekend marked the tail end of her first US tour, and not only was it her first time playing at the festival—it was her first time playing in Los Angeles. It’s also a moment in which Kelly’s stars seemed to be perfectly aligned.
Days before her performance, Kelly stopped by OCLA and was captivated by a pale blue, cloud covered kimono. A performance-worthy piece that was a perfect pairing for her dreamy, ethereal sound. When we meet again at the festival early Friday afternoon, she immediately tells me that she has a story about the cape. After leaving the store, she went to the beach with some friends and did tarot readings in the sand. One of her cards was the Queen of Swords, a card that symbolizes a time of decision making, and also depicts the Queen wearing a cape decorated with clouds. “When I pulled that card, I couldn’t believe it—it was like a sign,” she says. “It’s crazy, but things like that keep happening. Everything is coming together.”
As she geared up for her set, a large crowd gathered at the Outer Space stage (another fitting nod to the cosmic alignment.) From the first note, everyone in the audience was transfixed. The days last golden rays glittered in the palm trees as the sun began to set, and the sound waves carried her lush, electronic tracks out into the evening air, enveloping everyone in a dream-like state. It was pure magic, and the perfect way to kick off the weekend.
Kelly reveled in her post-performance excitement momentarily before darting off to see Bjork, another artist who has had a major influence on her music and path as an artist: “She has created her own path, and always stays true to her vision.” And it’s clear that Kelly is set to do the same.
“WHEN I WAS MAKING MY FIRST ALBUM, I WANTED TO DO EVERYTHING ON MY OWN—THE PRODUCTION, THE MIXING, THE WRITING. I HAD TO PROVE TO MYSELF THAT I COULD DO IT. BUT NOW THAT I’VE DONE IT, I’M REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO COLLABORATING WITH OTHER MUSICIANS.”