Ben Tillman, the Yours & Owls co-founder and music industry veteran, speaks in an affable drawl, his voice full of the softness and warmness that makes you think he’d be good in an emergency; like he’s the kind of guy who could casually take control while everyone else is losing their heads.

But even Tillman admits that in the weeks before the 2017 Yours & Owls Festival lineup was announced, that casual facade withered away, revealing a mildly terrified man in charge of an unstoppable, multi-part machine.

“I thought I maintained [my composure],” Tillman laughs. “I thought that was the case even when I was getting no sleep in the weeks before tickets went on sale. And then the day that they did, I just felt so much lighter. I was like, ‘Oh God, this feels so good – I must have been stressed.’”

Not that Tillman necessarily needed to worry – the 2017 iteration of the all-ages powerhouse is bolstered by one doozy of a lineup. Boasting an array of acclaimed international names – including At The Drive In, AJJ and The Orwells – as well as a carefully curated host of local superstars – Montaigne, Bec Sandridge, Cash Savage and more – the festival bill received almost unanimous praise when it was announced, and was taken as a sign that this proudly DIY event is becoming bolder each year.

But who would have thought that a Wollongong-hosted event founded by the one-time owners of a coffee shop might one day transform into a beloved staple of the festival scene?