Who The Hell Interview

“[It’s] frustrating and validating in equal measure … a process of recalibrating my own expectations. It’s a weird fucking time to be releasing music.”

I was interviewed by whothehell.net about Provenance and apparently I decided that it was cool to swear heaps. That said, this is a generous overview of my work to date and the genesis / early days of Provenance. It also reaffirms once again that I have a masterful knack of making a rod for my own back.

Read the full interview at whothehell.net

Image: from Who The Hell Facebook, not of an actual Provenance party. We’d be far less happy.

New Weird Australia – Real Time Arts Interview

In this new video from Real Time Arts, I talk to Gail Priest about the past, present and future of New Weird Australia.

RealTime is Australia’s critical guide to international contemporary arts. Our focus is on innovation in performance (live art, experimental theatre, dance, music, sound), photomedia, film, video, interactive media and hybrid arts.

The realtimearts.net website offers a comprehensive view of Australian contemporary art with an international perspective, combining the current print edition of RealTime, online exclusives and updates; the RealTime archive; new works on show in our studio; featured events (forums, festivals) and arts issues; and a portal that will guide you to the best sites in innovative contemporary art.

New Weird Australia Interview in The Brag

A full page feature on New Weird Australia in The Brag magazine, previewing the Sydney gig featuring Paint Your Golden Face (pictured), Alps, Caught Ship and Karoshi.  If nothing else, the article proves once and for all that swearing is cool.  ‘Fart’, however, is borderline.

Full article:

Stu Buchanan’s name is unfamiliar to most, but he could be one of Australia’s most important champions of innovative music. After a three year stint as the general manager of FBi Radio he moved on to a new role, but his heart stayed in the same place – wrapped tight around the eclectic sounds of a subculture that hides in our country’s far-spread nooks and crannies. In May of 2008, Stu launched a free digital compilation series called New Weird Australia – a thoughtfully curated exploration of original ideas, challenging sounds, sublime atmospherics and experimental pop. Volume Five of N.W.A has just been released, with a showcase of new music planned for Saturday night. I called him up to talk about what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, and where it’s all going.

“New Weird Australia is a not-for-profit initiative that’s designed to support experimental Australian music,” Stu explains. “Anybody pushing their genre or cross-genre to somewhere new, experimental and interesting; so ‘weird’ as in, unusual and unexpected and innovative.” Kind of sounds like he’s talking about a straight hour of unlistenable nu-wave art-noise but thankfully, the compilations are surprisingly engaging. “If you call something experimental, people immediately assume it’s going to be too difficult or inaccessible for them to be able to just sit down and enjoy. But when people get exposed to it, invariably the opposite is true.”

By trawling through the vast array of new “weird” music popping up in basements, bedrooms, warehouses and websites, Stu and the project’s co-curator, Danny Jumpertz of innovative artist-run label Feral Media, have filtered out some of the best in interesting Australian sounds – Kyu, Karoshi, No Art and Ghoul amongst others. By offering them up on a free digital album, the aim is simple: “It’s not to say, ‘hey people, we should all be making experimental music’ – that stuff has always existed. The aim is to try and put it all into a different context that’s slightly more accessible.”New Weird Australia, and the FBi Radio show of the same name, is also a way of bridging the geographic divide that separates different artists who seem to be working towards the same goal.

Power in numbers, people – Australia is a difficult country for local bands to crack. Whether it’s a cultural cringe, tall poppy syndrome or a simple long-ingrained reverence for anything that comes from overseas, we just aren’t paying as much attention to what’s going on around us. Stu agrees: “It’s like this tidal wave from Europe and America that just overcomes anything that’s happening here, and I just don’t understand it… You know, for every fucking Animal Collective or Grizzly Bear, there’s a band here that’s better.” Arriving here only seven years ago from the UK, Stu has a cross-cultural comparison to throw in. “There’s this weird thing in Australia where anything international is rarified in some way; it’s put on a pedastal that just doesn’t exist in the UK. The UK celebrates its own at least as much as it celebrates stuff from overseas – but here the equilibrium seems kind of strange.”

Buchanan thinks it could have something to do with the Australian music industry itself. It’s true that for the most part, the past string of ARIA winners haven’t done much to advance our standing as a global player in innovative, exciting music – and Lisa Mitchell’s recent win of the $30,000 AMP award has been decried by many as a triumph of mediocrity. “If we look at any band that we consider to be truly influential in a really kind of creative and interesting way in Australian music, they’ve never been celebrated,” Stu says. “Severed Heads, for example. Probably one of the most innovative bands to influence electronic music in the world… But here in Australia, they’re relatively invisible and to me that’s criminal. Those guys in particular should be in a hall of fame.”

Perhaps it also comes down to our isolation. In order to push something overseas from Australia, you have to invest a lot – and to be comfortable investing, you have to be sure it will work, right? “You’re right, and I think that model has been true for a while – but it’s changing!” He explains that the network of people he’s focused on aren’t actually working within the traditional operating systems, distribution networks or the mainstream press. “We exist outside of it, and because we exist outside of it we’ll always survive. People say, ‘if you want to play SxSW you have to go through this guy, and go here, and do that’ and it’s like – fuck that. We’ll find another way. All those old paradigms are no longer dominant.”

Stu takes a refreshingly hopeful view of the present and the future – in particular, of the pressures artists are under; economic downfall, filesharing technology and reactionary copyright laws to name a few. “The minute you put a barricade up against somebody, it’s an invitation for them to try and route around it. The more barriers you put up, the more creative people become… so I think in some ways you’ve gotto be grateful for the idiot stance of the record companies in the late 90s – they’ve given us a great gift!”

New Weird Australia has recently joined the ranks of the international Free Music Archive – an interactive library of legal downloads begun by WFMU, and curated by left-field tastemakers worldwide. I ask what’s planned for the future. “The next compilation is going to be very genre specific, which will help us take a bit of a refresh. And, unsurprisingly to anyone who’s been watching what we’re doing, one of the next steps will be to set up our own label. We want to kick that off this year for sure…”

Meantime, the message is clear. “Yeah, there are all those overseas bands, and yeah they’re hip, and every time they fart they’ll get an interview about it. Of course those guys are good at what they do – but just around the corner, at a warehouse three blocks away from you, there’s something going on that’s better.”

From Pulpit To Pew – Mess & Noise on New Weird Australia at Sound Summit

Mess and Noise today published an in-depth review of the New Weird Australia live show at Sound Summit by Kate Hennessey, reprinted below.

A picture of the Pope is propped on a ledge behind the stage at Newcastle‘s Renew Church. People drift in from the rain outside and sidle quietly into chairs. Trapped within the cheap frame, bathed in mellow red stage lights, the Pope watches on, fading even further into weary benevolence.

It’s Sunday afternoon and the church is home to the second installment of New Weird Australia’s artist showcase at Sound Summit. It’s a dry and comforting space and there’s no reason to be here but to sit and listen. No bar, no smoking area, no swelling rumble of chatter.

Even as Alyx and Freya from Kyu soundcheck their gear, occasionally jolting earlycomers with the inevitable bleeps and blasts of the process, their aura of sweetness is incomprehensible. Incredibly, they maintain it throughout their set. The four songs, independent yet interrelated, are dominated by their idiosyncratic harmonised vocals and simple tribal rhythms banged out together on a shared drum. Kyu are proficient, albeit nervously so, with samples, keyboard and a glockenspiel. But it’s only when they turn to the drum, cymbal and mic positioned between them and sing their hearts out, facing each other and profiled to the audience, that their true power is experienced. Clicking their drumsticks together like little girls in a schoolyard clapping hands, Kyu channel Björk, Cocteau Twins, M.I.A and The Lion King with blissfully non-derivative innocence. The audience sprout fond smiles like proud relatives at a wedding.

Kyu (Eliza Sarlos)

Solo act Alps has foregone his usual assortment of instruments and accompanies his wistful folk with guitar instead. Although he only started playing guitar a month ago he’s one nine-volt battery away from pulling it off. But his pedal crackles its death-knell code through his first song; a tough way to remember to replace your batteries before each gig. Alps ditches it and braves the remaining set pedal-free. Luckily, he’s playing in a church to an audience supportive enough to surmount his technical difficulties, and attentive enough to divine the deep sense of longing that pervades songs from his most recent LPs:Alps of New South Whales and Alps of the World.

Two-piece Moonmilk loop live melodian, accordion and vocals to ghostly affect. The sounds layer themselves into a swaying atonal beauty then suddenly retreat. The music plays as an echo of itself, distant and haunting, as though heard from behind a closed door at the end of a long and shadowy hall by somebody too terrified to open it. It’s a spooky set, perfect for the church. The Pope would have been pleased.

“It’s a dry and comforting space and there’s no reason to be here but to sit and listen. No bar, no smoking area, no swelling rumble of chatter.”

The showcase moves to This Is Not Art‘s Festival Club, a re-purposed Masonic Hall.Blastcorp, from Darwin, is first up. He sits cross-legged near the edge of the stage, long dreads nearly touching the floor at his knees, a monome between his folded legs. The crowd, many of whom have shifted directly from church to club, are still shifting gears and mostly sit on the floor as well. Blastcorp’s first song encourages seated appreciation with its sweetly pitched vocals and harp samples. Then, he says: “It’s time to raise the BPMs. It’s rave time.” A bass-heavy techno set follows. Not so well-suited for the brevity of a showcase gig which is, of course, entirely the point.

Castings take a long time to set up. Expectations are high. They begin and Nick Senger roams the stage shirtless as four guys in muddy-coloured hoodies crouch stage left fiddling with equipment on the floor, backs to the audience. It wraps up soon after. They’ve all been short sets but this one is the shortest. The crowd modestly bay for more, motivated I sense, by curiosity rather than fervour. “Do you have any idea how much that makes us not want to play more?” Senger spits. No, not really. No-one threw their underwear. What’s the problem here? “There’s no fucking way we’re going to play more now!” he repeats. People shrug.

Crouched together, reigning over an assortment of vocal loop pedals, Gugg look like time froze the day Cobain died. But they don’t play grunge. Gugg loop vocal yelps and nonsensical word patterns such as “chicky chicky”, peel the distorted loops into danceable terrain then plunge it all back into chaos again. Playful, wonderful and dreadful. Music-makers in the crowd shake their heads regretfully wondering why they didn’t think of doing it themselves.

The short sets have been fun, but by the time Holy Balm hit the stage the Festival Club crowd – already at capacity – are ready to dance long and hard. The rain beats down outside but the hall is steamy-warm. Beer flows, old friends chat and acquaintances long-intended are made. As the set progresses the area in front of the stage gets weirder and weirder as people gravitate inwards to marinate together in the psychedelic dance jam cocktail that is Holy Balm. People start to swarm the stage. The bearded guy from comedic experimental act Bum Creek pitches in to the jam by banging his guitar case shut over and over, while another fella dances around onstage with his hoodie pulled closed, blinded, with his arms in the air. Treadmill performance artist Mr Let’s Paint TV (John Kilduff) leaps onstage and starts doing the running man. People laugh hard and dance harder. Holy Balm ride it out with only small looks of bewilderment at what they’ve cooked up.

Above: Photo of Kyu by Eliza Sarlos

Mess & Noise Interview

New Weird Australia was featured in Mess & Noise, ahead of the inaugural Sound Summit Showcase in October 2009, in a Q&A article by Kate Hennessy.  Interview reprinted below.

New Weird Australia (NWA) slipped onto the scene in July 2009, releasing Volume One in a compilation series featuring new, eclectic and experimental Australian-only music. Available for free from the NWAwebsite, it has so far racked up 3000 downloads, withVolume Two released this month.

There’s no specific theme or genre. Bluegrass glitch and free-jazz nestle alongside “sprawling sample ephemera” and psychedelic folk on the two compilations, which total 31 tracks. If it’s fucking with conventions, NWA founder Stuart Buchanan will give it a discerning ear.

An online label for now, Buchanan has quietly ambitious plans to build on NWA’s early successes and extend it into other areas. Just don’t ask him what yet, because he doesn’t want to rule anything out.

Why did you start New Weird Australia?
It’s a passion project. Like any passion project there’s a gap in your life and nothing is filling it. So you end up doing something about filling it yourself. I was looking around looking for a space, a site, a project that really promoted experimental Australian music and, not being able to find anything, I decided to do it myself.

Danny Jumpertz came on board as co-producer. He’s been running a label called Feral Media for five years which is almost exclusively Australian music. I have known him for ages and we’ve always wanted to work together and this seemed like a natural fit.

But there’s Mess+Noise isn’t there? And Cyclic Defrost?
Yes, there are websites, journals and blogs that cover the sound editorially but I wanted to develop a comprehensive audio resource, where a wide variety of artists and sub-genres were readily available via downloading or other means. Cyclic Defrost promotes Australian experimental music but it takes a broader international view. We saw a space to focus exclusively on Australian music.

It seems like a pretty obvious idea. Why hasn’t it been done before?
I don’t know! It does seem obvious and that’s partially why I was so surprised when I couldn’t find anything. But the reaction has been so overwhelmingly positive there was clearly a need for it.

Tell us about the live stuff at Sound Summit?
Sound Summit co-director Eliza Sarlos approached us with the idea of a NWA showcase at This is Not Art, featuring some of the artists on the comps. Of course we were delighted to take part. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the fantastic music coming out of Newcastle, which is presently one of the most fertile places for experimental music, and also we’re playing in the Renew Newcastle spaces, which is exciting. The NWA showcase takes place over three different venues on October 4. It goes for eight hours with about 11 artists including Holy Balm, Lucia Draft, Tom Smith, Gugg, Castings, Alps, Brutal Hate Mosh and moonmilk. And it’s all free.

Do you classify NWA as a net label?
It’s the main component right now. Initially we’re happy to be a net label, but if I said NWA was a label that might limit it from the get-go … so we’re keeping it broad and open right now. As more platforms emerge things might change. We have ambitions to do more live events after This is Not Art next year, around Australia, so who knows where it might go?

How do you put the compilations together?
When we started out with Volume One it was a proactive process. We knocked on doors and got a really good response but it was essentially me choosing 15 tracks I thought would make a good first pitch. By the time we got toVolume Two we had lot of people knocking on our door saying they wanted to be part of it. So now it’s a mixture of proactive and reactive.

There’s no theme, except new, eclectic and experimental, right?
Yes. It’s also important to say the selections are experimental in the sense of whatever genre you’re working in. I didn’t want it to be abstract for abstract’s sake or pure sound art. But I wanted to include both of those, and more. If you’re working in the folk genre and doing something pretty experimental and breaking rules and conventions then that has a place as much as anything else. Thus far, we’ve included everything from psychedelic folk, free jazz, abstract electronica and post rock. Anything that is fucking with conventions and thinking differently, we’re interested in. I think that’s what people respond to positively, the diversity.

Do you need to have a fairly good understanding of music, and possibly even music theory or practice, to determine if something is “breaking conventions”?
I have little patience for the idea that you need to have an academic qualification to have a valid opinion – it’s a bogus argument. If you have a passion for music and – more importantly – if you approach everything with a truly open mind, then you can very clearly identify when something breaks the mould. I am also open to the idea of bringing in guest curators. This might be people who can help compile a volume or even do a whole volume.

Worried your personal taste might get in the way?
Yes, a little. That’s why I bought Danny on board as a partner. Our tastes do overlap but we’re a good check and balance. We pull in slightly different directions and attract different types of music.

“In many respects you have to cultivate an identity and do it consistently in order to get people to pay attention, especially those who aren’t predisposed to pay attention.”

Tell us about the NWA radio show on FBi?
I presented a show on FBi called Fat Planet for years that was purely international music – complete opposite of NWA. After five years of that I realised I was missing out on a lot of great Australian music. So I put it to bed and approached FBi with the New Weird Australia idea, which they were happy to put to air. The show gives us the chance to play stuff that didn’t make the compilation and also expand the NWA platform a bit and do interviews and live performance to air.

Do you see NWA as a brand people will begin to associate with experimental music?
Yes, and I don’t shy away from that. In many respects you have to cultivate an identity and do it consistently in order to get people to pay attention, especially those who aren’t predisposed to pay attention. It’s important for me to find a way to take what we’re doing and push it in an international context. To try to get people overseas and prick up their ears and get international blogs and websites to take notice. My experience with Fat Planet has taught me that the message can spread in time – if the music is good enough, then people will pick up on it, and word will go viral. That’s part of the reason we called it New Weird Australia, because it piggybacked on and played with the idea of New Weird America. It might ruffle some purist feathers, but it will hopefully get more people to take notice. And what’s not to like about the initials NWA?

OK, so part of NWA’s mission is to promote “alt-Australiana” internationally. Isn’t this focus contrary to building something strong and self-sustaining here?
I don’t see the two as being mutually exclusive – they run in parallel, and feed off one another. Digital music delivery has all but broken the notion that there is a hard divide between local and international distribution, and we’re just one of many who are taking advantage of that.

How does NWA’s model fit into the free downloads/struggling artist paradigm?
It plays alongside that paradigm. It acknowledges that part of discovering new music is being able to download, for free, in order to sample music. The belief that every download is a lost sale is a myth. Many people, if not the majority, will download just to sample, to take a punt on something. It’s how most people now sample new music; not via TV or radio or streaming tracks. NWA provides enough “free” music to allow people to sample an artist, and they’ll hopefully engage further if they find something that resonates, by buying an album or a gig ticket etc.

Would you consider charging for downloads?
The “no cash” model feels like the right way to go for the time being. No one can possibly get ripped off as there’s no money anywhere in the chain. Free also means limitless distribution and easy viral distribution, which is the whole point. We might release artist albums, or other types of formats, in time that follow a more traditional retail model, but it’s not the primary objective.

Birthed any superstars yet?
Well, not yet but we’ve had more than 3000 downloads of the fist volume. When you think a lot of these artists have never released anything before, or were selling 50 copies of their stuff in Australia – if they were doing well – that’s a good result.

Independent record stores such as Waterfront and Red Eye [in Sydney] were so important to people like me growing up. Do you see parallels between music stores of old and online labels such as NWA now?
It’s a huge question, we could write a thesis on it. I think we’ve always aligned ourselves to critics and curators in order to find music. Essentially that’s the role of a good indie store, we rely on their stock list to guide us, and we take pleasure from finding ourselves in the company of kindred spirits.

But when we don’t have a good record store nearby, or we want to find something from much further afield, then blogs and net labels will easily perform that function. My blog roll has been gradually whittled down to a handful of impeccable curators whose judgment I rely on almost 100 percent. That level of trust only comes from kissing a legion of frogs and trawling through mountains of shit. But thank fuck I’ve found them.

That said, I still love walking into somewhere like Repressed Records in Newtown and sticking a 7″ in a brown paper bag – I doubt I’ll ever find a way to beat that minor thrill.

What’s been most surprising about the project so far?
How quickly it all came together. From the first idea to the release of the first volume was only a few weeks apart. And that’s purely down to the support and trust of everyone involved. It shows you don’t need to sit around planning and scheming forever, just get your work out there. Clarity through action. If you fuck up, so be it – at least you’re moving things forward.

Stuart Buchanan is a panelist at Sound Summit, which runs from October 1-5 in Newcastle. More information here.

Speakeasy Zine

Speakeasy Zine Interview

Sydney writer and broadcaster Lee Tran Lam recently interviewed me for the tenth issue of her beautiful Speak-easy zine. Without wishing to descend into a mutual ‘love-in’, Lee Tran commitment and dedication to the local music and culture scene is astonishing, and it’s clear that she does this quite sincerely ‘for the love of it’. Aside from her growing zine back cataglogue, she also presents the all-Australian music show ‘Local Fidelity‘ on Sunday nights on FBi, runs a food blog ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry‘ and has just compiled a new CD as a fundraising exercise for FBi. Introduce yourself at either of her blogs to hunt down a copy of the zine, which also features interviews with Eliza Sarlos, Daniel Boud, Even Books, Jonathon Valenzuela and many more, alongside a stunning selection of images from in and around the city.


Speak-Easy #10, May 2009

Stuart Buchanan will forever be blazed in my memory as the first DJ I know to play ‘Young Folks’ by Peter, Bjorn & John (I remember the exact moment I heard it in my Ashfield flat and I had to stop everything I was doing). This was about a billion years before it was on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and blitzing people’s mobile ringtones. This is really just one facet of Stu – he is super-ahead of everything without being one of those braggy sorts who has to go on about trumping the zeitgeist all the time. In fact, he’s ultra-modest even though he ends up achieving things like ‘The Guardian’ newspaper crowning his (then) music blog as one of the best in the world.

Stuart currently hosts ‘Disorient’ on FBI 94.5FM, runs the ‘Discontent’ music blog and is Executive Producer of Creative Sydney – a festival that seems genuinely exciting and energising, all about firing up local ideas and artists (rather than flogging author merchandise, as certain staid festivals seem to pivot on). He’s one of the smartest eggs I know, I’m glad he is in the EP chair for this.

Can you tell me your first memory of Sydney?

Either the first weekend, or shortly thereafter, I went to a gig at Space3 on Cleveland Street and saw very early appearances from Spod (accompanied by a dancing Toecutter) and The Emergency. It was rough and crammed and fantastic. It proved straight away that there was great worth to be found beneath the veneer.

Can you tell me what first attracted you to Sydney – was it the “weather and beaches” chestnut?

I met my girlfriend (laterly fiancee, laterly wife) in London. We had both spent around six years in the city and, despite it being an amazing place to live, we both knew it was time to move on. She was a Sydneysider, born in Surry Hills, and she wanted to move back home. I’d never been to Australia, but Love forced my hand and I made the move.

The main thing I didn’t bargain on was the effect that tourism had on the city. Having lived in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, I fully understood just what an influx of tourists can do to a city (especially during Edinburgh Festival season where the population literally doubles), but I was shocked at the amount of what felt like ‘no-go zones’ for residents. Each of those other cities very much had a sense of self, that tourists were secondary to the equation, and that the cities didn’t have to compromise. Here, it felt like countless concessions had been made to tourism – whole spaces at the heart of the city like Darling Harbour or The Rocks were almost entirely devoid of Sydneysiders, and that felt completely backwards. The people of Sydney were made to feel like they didn’t own the city – the net result being, when tourists visited those places, they got a completely false impression of what the city was actually all about. They’re marshalled off to their walled garden, their exclusion zones, where they can get a great a picture of the Bridge or the House, but they’re not experiencing a real sense of what the people of Sydney have to offer.

How hard / easy do you think it is to be creative in Sydney? What are the most interesting creative projects you’ve come across?

It’s hard to say to put that in context, as I’ve been here just over six years. I hear people talk about very lean years for music and culture in the late 90s and early part of this decade, when pubs kicked out live music and the city lost some of its soul. I never lived through that, but it feels like it might be easier now than it was then. Support networks such as 2SER, FBi, alternative press and, more recently, online avenues such as blog culture and Facebook, have done a great deal to creat and maintain connections between artists and audiences. But they’ve also done a great deal to inspire people who otherwise would never of thought of themselves as creative, or who thought that Sydney was not the place to pursue a creative career.

As for as “interestingness” goes, the group I come back to time and time again is Feral Media label & the Sopp Collective design group – a beautiful blend of local music and Scandanavian design, from Newtown and Chippendale. They constantly surprise me with something new and something beautiful. Whilst it would be easy to fall back and exploit the signature sound and look they’ve developed, I love their dedication to pushing themselves forward.

I dj occasionally for the Uber Lingua collective and I’m always inspired by the size and diversity of the community that they always seem to attract. Club nights by their very nature attract a very singular type of person, people who gather together around a certain code. Uber Lingua is one of the few club experiences where there is no code. Many different styles of music and culture are represented, hence you’re always guaranteed a new and unexpected experience. That’s something that can’t always be said for most of the city’s club nights, where you’re going there to get another taste of what you already know.

What’s your favourite depiction of Sydney in a song/movie/novel/artwork/blog/any-bit-of-pop-culture?

The Naked City crew on FBi often play Tommy Leonetti’s “My City Of Sydney”, and it always make me chuckle – a Sinatra-like croooner warbling on about “that little church steeple in Woolloomoolloo”. I find myself singing that line when I’m doing the dishes or driving in the car, and I have absolutely no idea why.

How much has your idea of Sydney been remapped since having kids?

I obviously go places and do things I wouldn’t otherwise have found, and thus you see a completely different side to the city. It means that I rarely spend any weekend time in the city centre, that instead we hunt down larger, often more interesting, outdoor spaces further out. And because children get bored very, very quickly – I’m always having to find somewhere new.

If you had to create your soundtrack to Sydney, it would sound like ….

The life of a radio presenter is a blessing and a curse – I’m blessed to be drenched in so much fine music, but cursed to rarely ever return to albums after one or two listens. There’s always a pile of new music to listen to. So my soundtrack for Sydney is constantly changing and rearranging, and never the same twice. And as a relatively recent arrival, I don’t have a lifetime of city experiences that are bound up in local music. This month I’ve been listening to Sydney bands such as Ghoul, Underlapper, No Art, Seekae and Telafonica, but ask me again next week and it’ll all be different.

Licence To Ill at Sound Summit – Interview in The Brag

This week I’ll be on a panel at Sound Summit in Newcastle titled ‘LICENCE TO ILL: LEGALITIES, LICENSING, IMPLICATIONS AND IMPLEMENTATIONS!’ described as “Key representatives from APRA, the PPCA and Creative Commons join artists and industry to discuss the latest on artist copyright, licensing, downloading and legislation. In particular, addressing the impact & implications for local music communities.”

Ahead of the panel I was interviewed in The Brag, click on the thumbnail to view:


Fat Planet – ‘Best World Music’ on News.com.au

The dust hasn’t even settled on the recent decision by The Guardian to anoint Fat Planet as ‘Best Blog for World Music’, and here we are again. Today, news.com.au added their own voice, in an article titled ‘Free music downloads without the guilt’ featuring “the best free music sites from Australia and abroad”. Read the full article on their web site.

Here’s what they had to say:

Best world music:
With such a multicultural mix, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Australia hosts one of the world’s best world music websites. Stuart Buchanan started the blog as an accompaniment to his Fat Planet world music radio program on Sydney community radio station FBi. That was back in 2003, and the blog is now even more popular than the broadcast.

Buchanan is kicking off 2008 with a tour of the world in music, starting in Cuba with a band called Telmary who deliver Havana-based hip-hop. But the site also features a huge catalogue of free music dating back to July 2005, hailing from such diverse locations as Argentina and Algeria and such odd genres as Balkan Hot Step and home-grown “Didjetronica”.

Fat Planet voted ‘Best Blog For World Music’ by The Guardian

The Fat Planet blog was featured on Friday in the UK’s ‘Guardian‘ newspaper in Chris Salmon’s column ‘Click To Download’. You can also read the column online, reprinted below.

Best for world music: Fat Planet
Stuart Buchanan is a Scotsman living in Australia with a radio show about contemporary world music. In 2003, he set up a blog to accompany his programme, “as an early experiment in fusing broadcasting with an online component, linking to free downloads of music heard on the show”. Bloggers across the globe soon discovered the site and began to write about it. Before long, Buchanan’s readers outnumbered his radio listeners. Almost five years on, the blog still offers 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. “Most of it is sourced from the web,” he says. “You just need to know where to look and spend many hours a week hunched over your laptop.” In other words, Buchanan does the hard work, so you don’t have to.

In The Mix Interview for Dust Tones

this saturday (13th) i’m playing a dj set at the monthly club ‘dust tones‘ at the clare hotel, broadway, sydney. expect the usual mix of electronic, hip hop, dancehall, crunk, baile funk, ragga, bollywood, baltimore, breakcore and other global beats. should be a great night, some fantastic djs on the bill – if international music gets you hot under the collar, this will be an excellent chance to gorge.

here’s the blurb: “This month Dust Tones dives into the world of Global Underground. From Bollywood to Hollywood. Bhangra to Baltimore, Afro beat to African, Latin to Laos this is a trip around the musical world in just one night. Out of retirement comes Bhangra legend Earth Brown Kid, champion of the Marsala Mix radio show. Joining him is global music don Stuart Buchanan, queen of bhangra bootlegs Sheerien Salindera and Mr Latin Man About Town.” more info at invadarecords.com

australia’s dance music portal inthemix.com.au recently published an interview with me to tie-in with the dust tones night. read it here, but here’s a cut’n’paste for speed:


IN THE MIX – Stuart Buchanan: Unearthing the bare facts

As the general manager of FBI radio, Stuart Buchanan could present any show that he felt passionate about, but it’s global music that is his calling. Benjamin Chinnock unearths the bare facts.

Original from Scotland, Buchanan has been DJing since he was 18, but by his own admission ‘he still can’t mix for shit.’ As the host of international music show Fat Planet on Sydney’s FBI, he shares his love of electronic, rock, hip hop, dancehall, crunk, baile funk, raga, Bollywood and African, all with an international flavour. Buchanan divulges his reasons for being drawn to this type of music. “I was tired of hearing the same ideas played over and over again, tired of reading about all of the same bands, week in week out. Getting into international music has re-invigorated my passion – I’m hearing brand new ideas all the time; ideas generally not found in mainstream or indie media.”

Global music is a contentious word, definition and genre, with many a conversation debating its merits and meaning ending with the United Nations. For Buchanan the answer is simple, “If you had to define it, it would be anything from outside the Anglo / American axis.” Global music has also been labelled as an over conceptualised marketing ploy created to sell records to sympathetic world types.  Buchanan understands this, “it is a tricky definition.  There’s an old misconception that anything global or ‘world’ has to be traditional tribal music from the Sahara, when actually it could just as easily be neo-acid-psych-rock from Japan.”

Often used as an umbrella term, global music covers many genres and in the late nineties it suffered at the hands of hype and the next-big-thing syndrome, with genres like Asian underground being push by music magazines to a point of doing more harm then good. Buchanan is of the view that, “labels are helpful but only in a lazy sense.  One person’s underground is another person’s mainstream.  ‘Asian underground’ is a classic example of an old label that has lost its relevance and now means nothing.”

While Australia has a healthy music scene Global music is yet to find a solid home. When international artist tour they do draw solid crowds however there has yet to be a regular party continue to push the sound. Buchanan is of the opinion that, “there’s a good few non-traditionalists bucking the trend, particularly the Uber Lingua crew and producers like Mashy P.  But when you have traditional world music juggernauts such as Womad perpetuating an old-school view of global music, it’s very hard to rise above that and prove there’s an alternative.”

With Australia being a multicultural society you would think that it would be a melting pot for different cultures and music. Buchanan has experienced this first hand. “I’m a Scotsman, living in Marrickville, surrounded by Greek, Chinese, Indian, Italian and Danish communities – I’ve never lived in a more multicultural suburb.  How far that tolerance extends is a matter for much debate.”

Name five artist or songs that we are likely to hear you play?
Bondo De Role (Brazil)
Mutamassik (Egypt)
Stacs Of Stamina (Sweden)
Ghislain Poirer (Canada)
DJ Rupture (Spain)

M.I.A vs Missy Elliot, who would win the battle?
Hopefully they’d just kiss and make up.

Punjabi MC or Jay-Z?

Spank Rock or DJ Assault feat Q Tip?
Spank Rock would tap their ass.

Bollywood or Hollywood?
Ed Wood.

Thievery Corporation or Asian Dub Foundation?
Thievery would take it lying down.

Stuart Buchanan from FBI’s Fat Planet plays Dust Tones, Saturday May 13th, with a Global Underground special featuring Earth Brown Kid,  Sheerien Salindera from SBS Alchemy, Man About Town, Mr Pez, Frenzie and Bentley. It all happens at The Clare Hotel, Broadway. For more info check out ITM Whatson.