In August 2003, I started broadcasting the Fat Planet show on the (then) newly-birthed FBi Radio in Sydney. FBi was set up to take a unique view of Australian music, to reposition both the city of Sydney and the country as a place for new, original and innovative sounds – and to tarmac over the notion that we were good for nothing more than Kylie Minogue, INXS and Men At Work. When I was approached to do a ‘world music show’, I opted to toe the line on exactly the same philosophy – to reposition the notion of ‘world music’, and promote innovation and experimentation from unlikely locations.
Of course, the whole concept of ‘world music’ is in itself a paradox – it is a marketing and sales term, designed for ingestion by Western audiences. ‘World music’ means nothing to consumers in South America or Africa. Not only that, but it is quite insulting to apply such a broad and meaningless term to well-developed and flourishing local music industries. The term also generally implies indigenous and traditional sounds, and as I was quick to discover, most countries falling in the ‘world music’ category consider indigenous music in much the same way that Westerners treat their folk heritage – as something to be acknowledged, but mostly unrepresentative of the current musical climate.
Back in 2003, music was only starting to be distributed online. Most labels and artists had a general mistrust about duplication and piracy, and had yet to wake up to the web’s full potential. Luckily, there were a few vanguards around the globe taking advantage of the medium – often from the most unlikely of places. Those vanguards naturally became staples on the Fat Planet radio show – music that was unreleased in Australia, often only released in its country of origin, but nonetheless music that was refreshing, challenging and utterly compelling. Read More »