If you’re on the hunt for tunes that can turn your commute from a drag into a dance party, then the thousands of Australians clicking over to FBi Radio on the daily can’t be wrong. Having first hit the airwaves in ’03, FBi has remained a hugely positive addition to community radio, championing Australian music, arts, and culture with a vicious fervour. Earlier this year, long-time FBi devotee Amelia Jenner took over the coveted Music Director position, where she curates anything and everything music-related on the station.
We took up the opportunity to have a chat about the reality of her role, artists to keep an eye on, and the year gone past.
SR: First of all, how are you, and what’s going on for you at the moment?
AJ: I’m okay! I’m bit tired from a big weekend but mostly fine.
SR: You had a long road at FBi before nabbing the music director position. Was this always where you saw your career in music and radio heading?
AJ: Absolutely not. In fact I was planning on moving to the UK this year to have one more year of hedonism before a career change. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be lucky enough to make a career out of my love for FBi.
SR: What kind of changes have you made at FBi since coming on board as music director at the beginning of the year?
AJ: Nothing too drastic I suppose, FBi Radio has always been in pretty good hands. The music team and I have been making a concerted effort every week to make sure we are programming music from a really diverse range of artists with at least 50% by female and GNC artists. We also try and make sure we program music by artists from all over the world and not just from the dominant music hotspots like the UK and USA. So far this year we’ve had some amazing post-punk from Indonesia, RnB from The Philippines and Kenya, soulful pop from Lebanon and Réunion Island, Dancehall from Jamaica, Afrobeats from Ghana and experimental club music from Argentina.
SR: What does a typical day look like for you at the FBi studios?
AJ: There’s no such thing as a typical day at FBi. You have to be ready for anything. I guessing generally my days consist of listening to the hundreds of tracks that get submitted each week and to all the new forthcoming albums, answering a bunch of emails, prepping for my two radio shows, meeting with publicists and managers, programming lineups for FBi Radio gigs, organising on-air interviews, deciding what will get added to our playlist the following week and what will be Album of the Week, all while trying to listen to the radio as much as I can.
SR: You hear exciting, innovative local sounds all day, every day. Can you name three acts you’ve showcased on FBi who are pushing a style that’s truly unique and refreshing?
AJ: Jikuroux, Odette, Manu Crook$, Party Dozen. Ohh that’s four. Oh well, you can have the fourth one for free.
SR: Australia’s music exports have a reputation for stepping outside of the box and starting the trends, not following them. What would you attribute this to? Is it something in the water, a factor of our small industry, or something else?
AJ: I think the fact that we’re a small country with high competition and not a lot of opportunities for touring, radio play, TV performances etc. artists here really need to be innovative and push the boundaries a bit more to get noticed, which I think ultimately is a good thing. No time for complacency here.
SR: In 2017, despite the rising focus on streaming services, radio still has an extremely important role to play in building the music careers of Australian artists. What do you think FBi Radio provides to music fans and artists that other mediums can’t?
AJ: The one thing that FBi Radio and all radio in general offers is a human connection. We’re a little rough around the edges but we’re relatable as hell, which is one thing I think our audience really appreciates. I think it’s the fact that there is a real human behind the mic ranting about how much they love the next track they’re about to play, that really resonates with the people of Sydney. I guess it’s like a giant tick of approval for that song or that artist that which can only be a good thing for that musician’s career.
SR: What’s the best advice you can give to Australian musicians trying to garner support for their music?
AJ: Be authentically you and people will take notice. Have a good crew of people around you who believe in you and your vision and don’t try and follow trends. Keep it chill and keep it real. Chreal? Oh god, who am I?
SR: One of the things that seems to draw listeners to FBi Radio is the wide range of specialty shows that create a platform for a heap of subgenres and music scenes. What’s an FBi show you love to blast when you’re not at work?
AJ: Pure Space, Sleepless in Sydney, Bare Necessities the list goes on. All The Best is also great. Given the amount of music I listen to every day, I crave a bit of good old fashion long form story telling.
SR: It’s undeniable that the music industry has a serious gender equality issue. What has been your experience of this throughout your career, and how does FBi Radio work to tackle this issue in its music programming?
AJ: I’ve been lucky enough to always work in really supportive environments with people who care about tackling the gender diversity issue. If you’re dealing with people who still find gender equality hard to address, chances are you’re talking to the wrong people. Block and delete I say. I aint got time for that shit.I guess I’ve already answered this but week to week we strive to ensure we’re programming at least 50% of music by female and GNC artists. We also make sure the parties and gigs we program have at least 50% female and GNC artists and we have a good representation of femme talent on-air and behind the scenes.
There are other big issues that the music industry needs to face up to as well as gender equality, like accessibility and racism. There’s a long road ahead but I feel like change is in the air.
SR: What’s the last gig you attended and the upcoming gig you’re most excited for?
AJ: I went to Rainbow Chan’s single launch at Golden Age on Saturday night, which was amazing. Voice of an angel.
I’m excited about so many upcoming gigs – Luca Lozano, Output Festival, Lorde, Lana Del Rey, Sister Nancy, Kelela, Dizzee Rascal, (Sandy) Alex G, I could go on forever.
SR: If we opened the music app on your phone, what would we see in your most recently played?
AJ: Oh jeez, that would have to be my pop playlist #truestar (follow it!!!) or the Habibi Funk playlist or Young Thug. Or the podcast app, sometimes I just need to listen to people jibber jabbering to keep me sane you know? I work out to true crime, is that weird?
SR: In one sentence, what would you say the best part of your job is?
AJ: The best part of my job is getting to call FBi Radio my job. It’s a very special place.
For a dose of Australia-focused music, arts, and culture news, you can tune into FBi Radio on 94.5 on the daily, or visit their website at fbiradio.com.