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Meeting The Neighbours – Fat Planet Interview at The Tofu Hut

Huge thanks to New Jersey’s Tofu Hut for tracking me down for an interview for their blog. Check it out at tofuhut.blogspot.com and reposted below:


Fat Planet is another in the Radio Babylon school of linking to “artists’ sites, labels or other legitimate sources” but F.P. is a bit more aspirant: offering itself as a de facto aggregator/taste filter of all manner of international music and then indexing the tracks by country. Recent offerings include songs from !!!Ulrich SchnaussAir, and Mouse on Mars.

Who got the whole world in their hands? 
Fat Planet started as a way of logging playlists from Stuart Buchanan’s ‘new international music’ radio show in Sydney, Australia and has quickly grown into a mp3 blog in its own right. The blog, like the show, is designed to promote new, alternative from around the world – providing an alternative global music perspective that doesn’t fall into the traditional ‘world music’ category. For example, psych-rock from Japan, breakcore from Egypt, electronica from Argentina, drum’n’bass from India etc. Our first post was in January 2004.
I work at a radio station full-time (FBi 94.5FM), which is the same station from which I present my show. In my spare time (not that there’s much), I also work my wife on our own web design business. In recent years, we developed the site for Goldfrapp (which won the 2003 MTV Europe Web Award), for Groenland Records (nominated for 2004 Online Music Awards) and we’ve recently completed some work for Depeche Mode for their new remix collection. Which is all gut-bustingly exciting.

Where did the name of your blog originate from?
Derived from Leftfield’s ‘Phat Planet’, but preferred the chubby version.

What are the criteria you judge a song by to decide if it’s post-worthy?
Original, innovative, unlike anything we’ve heard before. Derivative rock bands need not apply.

What do you do for kicks when you’re not posting?
Time is a cherished commodity… I’m usually preparing for the FAT PLANET radio show and I’ve recently taken on a 2nd radio show project for Australia’s community radio satellite network – see theprototype.net

Five Desert Island Discs?
1. The Velvet Underground and Nico – “The Velvet Underground and Nico”
2. Nina Simone – “Verve Jazz Masters”
3. Bjork – Homogenic
4. Boards of Canada – “Music Has the Right to Children”
5. Bill Hicks – “Arizona Bay”

Do you consider yourself a “music journalist”?
No, if I don’t like something I won’t post it – so, therefore, I’m only promoting music I like, rather than criticising music I don’t.  ed. note: This is spot on and hardly ever noted in discussion of the field.

What was the last track you heard that really changed your life?
Not sure about the life change, but CloudDead and the Mush crew inspired me to start writing music again, so that was an influential period.

Is there any genre of music that you dismiss out of hand?
I’ve yet to get excited about metal, which I think is entirely to do with the testosterone levels. In saying that, I really got off on the new Metallica documentary, so maybe there’s a sleeping metalhead inside of me somewhere.

Which critical darling do you find most overrated? Who’s the most overlooked genius in the music industry?
Jet, allegedly Australia’s No.1 rock band. I read an interview where they went about how much they despised electronics, that ‘techno’ was the work of the devil etc. I just can’t deal with narrow-mindedness, especially when it comes to music and especially not at that scale – i.e. dismissing entire genres. It just so lazy and misguided – and sadly representative a large group of supposed ‘fans’ of music. i.e. those people who have never dared to pick up an electronic album for fear their heads might implode. Overlooked? Einsturzende Neubauten should be in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

Recommend three other music blog sites.
1.  Swen’s Weblog: The one that started my interest and still continues to deliver. Ostensibly a guide to artists that feature in The Wire magazine, but it’s expanded to be much more comprehensive. As well as alternative and experimental music, it now includes alternative video, glitch art, and a whole heap more.
2.  Music For Robots: Consistently excellent. More electronica and dance as well as the odd post from somewhere very random in the world.
3.  dozerblog: I ought to give props to a new kid on the block, whose tastes are almost 100% spot on.

Do you really think that posting music effectively promotes sales of the album?
Absolutely, it can’t fail to. If only more artists and record companies would catch on to this fact. There are so many ways to read about artists, not so many to actually hear them. I’m not going to buy an album from an artist I haven’t heard, that’s too much of a risk. And having streaming real audio or windows media player files is way too time consuming and tedious – plus you can only listen to those when you’re sitting in front of your PC. Alternatively, if I can grab an mp3, then I can throw it on the iPod, burn it to CD as part of a compilation and listen to it a few times. Once it’s lodged in my brain and I’ve become a fan of the track, an album purchase surely follows.

Can you list a few bands that you enjoy listening to that might surprise your readers?
I used to really dig Madonna and still have a soft spot for her. Especially the “Like A Virgin” album. Oh, and Gary Numan.

Are you a proud member of the iPod Nation?
100% and very proud of it. iPod changed the way I listen to music and, by the genius invention of the ‘shuffle’ feature, I’ve found parts of my music collection that I never knew existed.

What’s the best live show you’ve ever seen?
So hard to decide between them all, but the most dramatic was probably at last year’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs gig in Sydney. After about 6 or 7 songs, Karen O took a tumble off the stage, fell head first into the mosh pit. Even though she was seriously injured, she opted to sits on the stage and sang an incredible version of Maps. At the end of the track, the paramedics grabbed her and whisked her off to the hospital. That song will remain burned in my head for a long time to come.

Do you have a message for youngsters who’d like to start their own music blog?
Be true to your own tastes and your sense of what’s good and bad and don’t worry if anyone disagrees.

The head of Sony/BMG is sitting across the table from you, asking how to improve the music industry for both the consumer and the company. What do you say?
There used to be an argument that the record companies’ % profit from an artist’s CD would go to fostering and developing new talent. Now that % seems to go to developing Pop Idol / American Idol rejects. Recently, a very famous and a very good Australian rock band was bumped from their record label – and at the same time, the label signed a whole crew of Idol wannabes. When the industry favours chancers signing cover versions (or insipid ballads) over original, exciting talent – then truly there is no hope.

Who’s your favorite producer?
I really dig Mark Bell’s work – formerly LFO (and not the American boy band, the Sheffield seminal techno duo). He recently produced Exciter for Depeche Mode and also does great work with Bjork.

Drop on by betterPropaganda and pick out a track to hype.

Boom Bip and the Boards of Canada – “Last Walk Around Mirror Lake” (Remix)

There’s so much good shit on there – recent posts like Milosh, Diplo, and Subtle all comes from superb albums. However, my money goes to “Last Walk”. As electronic music goes, this track has so much warmth and soul, it’s a beautiful collaboration. Boards Of Canada are one of the best things that have happened to electronic music in the last few years and Boom Bip too is taking the genre into interesting territory. I saw him live in Sydney recently and I’m now happy to say that I’m a convert. So it goes.