My weekly radio program Fat Planet is broadcast nationally every Wednesday 8pm on Double J on ABC Radio. This is the story of how it all happened.
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.
As so much of the show’s pre-planning was spent trawling the web, I inevitably started to post a few links on my personal blog. The first tracks went online in January 2004 (Finland’s Lacklustre, Wang Inc from Italy and South African Portable taking early honours) and, a couple of months later, the content shifted to its own decicated website. Although this was something of an organic and common sense process, it was also partly inspired by the early pioneers of the mp3 blog who had started shortly prior – Fluxblog, Said The Gramaphone, Music For Robots and, primarily, Swen’s Weblog, a curation of mp3 links from artists that had appeared in The Wire magazine.
Over a five year period, the Fat Planet site went on to feature many hundreds of artists, exposing new sounds and styles often for the first time in an English-speaking environment. Fat Planet was also one of the first to expose emerging genres and feature tracks from scenes such as baile funk, kuduro, congotronics, balkan hot step, baltimore, cosmic disco and Boston bounce. Artists who received some of their early blog-love on Fat Planet included M.I.A., Ghislian Poirier, Juana Molina, The Knife, Filastine, Konono No.1, Frikstailers, K’naan, Mutamassilk, Edu-K, Esau Mwamwaya, Para One, Villa Diamante, Jahcoozi, Cardopusher, Sibot, Stacs Of Stamina, Tetine, Bostich, DJ C, Ramallah Underground, Sweat X, Peter Bjorn & John, Mochipet, Datarock, Annie and many more.
In January 2008, the Fat Planet blog was featured in the UK’s ‘Guardian‘ newspaper in Chris Salmon’s column ‘Click To Download’. In referencing a number of mp3 blogs from all over the world, Fat Planet was dubbed “Best Blog for world music“. The Guardian called the blog: “a fantastic melting point of cutting-edge international sounds; be it Danish rap-techno, Argentinean cumbia, Israeli dub or Chinese hip-hop. The range and quality of the music Buchanan tracks down is astonishing”. (read the column here). Time Out also reviewed Fat Planet in 2008, calling it “a stunningly diverse range of music from all corners of the globe”.
Fat Planet’s growth was also paralleled by (and arguably helped to foster) a growth in the apprecitation of non-English speaking music. So much so, that by mid-2008, the territory mapped by Fat Planet was mapped by many. Without particularly being able to define it in precise terms, I felt that a mission had been accomplished for the time being and that it was time to map some new terrain. Without too much fanfare, the blog closed in July 2008, the FBi Radio show shortly thereafter.
Fast forward to late 2016, winding past my other radio programs such as New Weird Australia and Repercussions for FBi Radio and Out From Under for Resonance FM, and the call came from Double J on ABC Radio; seeking to bring Fat Planet back after a long hiatus. In January 2017, the new Fat Planet program – with a near identical mandate to the first incarnation – began broadcasting nationally every Wednesday at 8pm. Since the relaunch, I’ve interviewed artists such as Bjork, Sudan Archives, Nickodemus, Noga Erez, Noura Mint Seymali and many more. As well as listening to the stream of the current week’s program, can also catch up on Fat Planet music between episodes via the Spotfy playlist.
Listen – Archive Interviews.
Sudan Archives (August 2017)
Noga Erez (May 2017)
Booka Shade (June 2008)
Lindstrom (July 2007)
Amon Tobin (February 2007)
Miho Hatori (January 2007)
El Perro Del Mar (January 2007)
Frederic Galliano, Kuduro Sound System (December 2006)
Annie (October 2006)
Filastine (October 2006)
Peter, Bjorn & John (September 2006)
OMFO (August 2006)
CSS / Cansei De Ser Sexy (July 2006)
Listen – Mixtapes.