The FBi 20
August 31st 2023
Celebrating 20 years of FBi Radio with 20 of our most played Sydney artists.
FBi’s history with Rainbow Chan runs deep. We first met at a Music Open Day in July 2010, when she dropped a split single in a handmade CD cover to us. In 2011, she won FBi’s Northern Lights competition and we flew her to Reykjavik to play at Iceland Airwaves Festival. Five years later she released her debut album Spacings, earning her Album of the Week, a Record of the Year nomination at the FBi SMAC Awards, and FBi’s most played artist AND most played song of 2016. In 2017, she took out the FBi SMAC Award for Song of the Year with ‘Let Me’.
Rainbow Chan is embedded deep in all corners of Sydney arts – aside from her main music project, she’s one half of techno duo DIN, and releases music as Chunyin, and she’s a visual artist too, taking home the FBi SMAC Award for Artist of the Year in 2022. You might have even heard her behind the mic, co-hosting our arts program Canvas a few years ago. Rainbow embodies Sydney music, art and culture – this city wouldn’t be the same without her, nor would FBi Radio.
Rapper and proud Gumbaynggirr man Tasman Keith first made waves at FBi in our 2018 yearbook, featuring in both our 100 Most Played Artists and 100 Most Played Songs (‘My Pelopolees’). Five years later, he’s one of our 20 most played artists of all time.
From the contemporary west coast-sounding production on his debut EP ‘Mission Famous’ to the bass-heavy hard rap, jazz and gospel-influenced hip hop on first LP ‘A Colour Undone’, Tasman’s songs are like diary entries. They continue the storytelling traditions of his community, and give voice to the big loves and losses he’s felt in his life.
The son of trailblazing hip hop artist Wire MC, Tasman has spent a lifetime honing his craft. And it shows. In 2019 he was crowned FBi’d Independent Artist of Week, and kicked off our video series Independent Play. His stunning record a ‘A Colour Undone’ was Album of the Week in 2022, and he’s been nominated for several SMAC Awards across 2019, 2021 and 2022 (he also gave an iconic performance at the 2019 ceremony).
He’s both soul-baring and fire-spitting, and we can’t get enough.
Flume’s musical journey began with a cereal box, where he discovered music software instead of freebie toys. At just 13, he segwayed from Weetbix to music production. Eleven years later, under his real name, Harley Streten, he sent a demo to FBi Radio, long before the name ‘Flume’ existed. From messing around with his breakfast, to winning the FBi Radio SMAC Awards Record of the Year in 2012 for his iconic self-titled album, Flume has maintained his unique sound while pushing the boundaries of electronic music. He’s topped our most-played artist list in 2016, 2019, and 2022, thanks to his mesmerising synths and glitchy beats. In short, Flume’s music makes you feel full. It’s no wonder he’s taken the world by storm – a journey we’ve been a part of since 2012.
Producing, engineering, singing, writing and heading up her own label: Milan Ring does it all. A true legend in Sydney’s music scene, she’s not just a sought-after collaborator, but a creative visionary both locally and internationally. At FBi Radio, she’s no stranger. You may have seen her playing guitar for other local artists, at FBi’s 2019 Club Night, or at the 2021 SMAC awards where she won Best Live Act. Her performances showcase her trademark R&B magic: jazz-tinged vocals, R&B harmonies and groovy percussion, explaining her immense popularity. It comes as no surprise that she has been honoured as our Independent Artist of the Week and has earned coveted SMAC award nominations, including Next Big Thing (2019) and Best Live Act (2021). This brilliance radiates through her 2021 album, ‘I’m Feeling Hopeful,’ a graceful yet resolute odyssey exploring themes of hope and healing. This rightfully shows why she’s part of our most loved 20 artists.
Sampa the Great
Sampa The Great has done many things but none more thoroughly than proving FBi right after winning the 2015 SMAC Award for ‘Next Big Thing’. The Zambian-born, Botswana-raised singer-songwriter’s acclaimed 2015 debut, ‘The Great Mixtape’, was followed with three consecutive Album of the Week titles with ‘Birds and The BEE9’ (2017), ‘The Return’ (2019) and ‘As Above So Below’ (2022). Returning to Zambia during the pandemic, Sampa leaves in her wake a profound impact on local music. Her powerful mix of dynamic spoken word over jazz-tinged hip hop production truly established Sampa The Great as an artist worthy of an international stage.
Fishing’s downtempo electronic bops were pervasive on the FBi airwaves throughout the 2010s. The Sydney duo, composed of Russell Fitzgibbon and Doug Wright, make bouncy, tropical house-adjacent music that you can’t help but groove to. Both members have been intimately involved in the local scene – you could catch them spinning tracks at your local inner west house party (the music video for ‘Nineteen / Boy Wunder’ was famously filmed on a tiny budget in a tiny house over a 10 hour dayrave), or performing at The Basement alongside Marcus Whale (Collarbones) and Al Wright (Cloud Control). They’ve taken home Album of the Week for both their 2014 debut Shy Glow and 2017’s Pleasure Dome. Fishing’s sample-heavy sound is immortalised forever not only in the hearts, minds, and ears of Sydneysiders but in the auditory core of FBi Radio itself; our Album of the Week sting (played at least a dozen times on air every day) famously samples their iconic track ‘Chi Glow’.
To put the lasting impact electronic music trio Seekae had on the Australian scene in perspective, consider that we last had a new release from them seven years ago, in 2016. But, according to our playlist logger, we played one of their tracks on air just 3 weeks ago. Part of a local wave of innovative new electronic musicians at the beginning of the 2010s, George Nicholas, John Hassell and Alex Cameron’s distinct blend of pop, ambient, and IDM is meditative, danceable, and resoundingly original. In 2009, with no manager, no publicists and no promotion, they mailed their album The Sound of Trees Falling On People to FBi Radio on a burnt CD-R. It became Album of the Week. In the years that followed, Seekae evolved their sound while retaining a consistent aesthetic, and their following records +Dome and The Worry also picked up Album of the Week. While they have now gone their separate ways, all three members have continued to play an important role in the local scene, pursuing their own careers while mentoring up and coming artists as well.
It takes a certain flexibility and penchant for rediscovery to journey into the boundless frontier of the Cloud Control experience. Since they went quiet back in 2017, the band continues to have a generation of FBi listeners captured by their sonic portrait of a ruckus Sydney scene, tracing back to a humble spot in the CD rack at an FBi open day many years ago.
Born from the cradle of the Blue Mountains, Cloud Control – who map a momentous progression from Sydney Uni’s Manning Bar to two ARIA awards-have permanently altered the taste of rock audiences across international borders. Whether it’s the power and promise of the synths on ‘Buffalo Country’, or the drifting riffs of ‘Into The Line’, there’s something about Cloud Control that never fails to get people riled up.
Collarbones’ music has always dreamed beyond the limitations of genre and songwriting and performance. It all started when Marcus Whale and Travis Cook met on MSN messenger 15 years ago. 5 albums since then (each of them awarded Album of the Week), acoustic covers in the studio, a performance on the Sydney Opera House Steps – Collarbones have pretty much done it all. Who could forget the first time they heard ‘Turning’ live on a heaving dancefloor, or the need to turn up the radio when the elusive Guerre materialises on ‘Hypothermia’. It all came to a head on their fifth and final album, Filth. Their swansong, their ode the music that inspires them still, the project that’s formed an extension of a friendship. There won’t be new music from them anymore, but Collarbones is forever.
Palms’ big-hearted racket soundtracks the everyday warmth of Sydney life, making them a quintessential part of FBi Radio’s sound across the last 20 years. Their albums Step Brothers and Crazy Rack boast FBi Radio Album of the Week accolades in 2013 and 2015 respectively, and Step Brothers also earned them a nom for Record of the Year at the 2013 SMAC Awards. A staple in the underground scene, Palms cemented themselves early on as cult favourites. In 2021, they returned from a five-year hiatus with ‘This One is Your One’ – an earnest and sunsoaked song about love. Palms’ giddiness and warmth will forever hold a place in the hearts and ears of FBi Radio listeners: they shred, they strum, they hook, they love.
- :: The FBi 20 - Royal Headache
Attaining legendary status in the Sydney band scene with their earth shattering shows (performed hanging from the rafters in sweaty Marrickville garages in 2008), Royal Headache have truly earned both halves of their moniker. The Putney punk rockers’ mix of crooned vocals atop raucous rock n roll earned both of their albums (Royal Headache in 2011 and High in 2015) FBi Album of the Week status. High went on to win Record of The Year at the 2015 SMAC Awards. The award was testament to frontman Shogun’s power to bring an animal intensity to his highly confessional lyrics. Perhaps it was this presence that drew a 60-strong mob of fans to the stage at a 2015 Opera House gig – leading to a mele of punks, seccys and police. The chaos of the night is indicative of the band’s overall timbre – a stop-start rise to fame, two critically acclaimed albums interspersed with notorious live shows, all ending in 2017. Everything about Royal Headache was high impact. Following the punk ethic of short songs and stripped-back production, the band’s live-fast-die-young tenure was no exception.
- :: The FBi 20 - Dro Carey
Dro Carey, Tuff Sherm, Eugene Ward: three names under which this producer has released music over the years. Prolific, chameleonic, and rigourous in his creative output, it’s his music as Dro Carey that you’ve heard the most on FBi Radio. From UK garage, to grime, to heavyset and multilayered productions, Dro Carey has been transformative with his contributions to dance music locally and abroad. There is a sense of mystery about his music that draws radio hosts to wanna play him all the time. Playing his music is deciphering it and celebrating it at the same time. Dro has come through FBi countless times for chats and DJ mixes, sharing his new releases. And while his music give a sense of the elusive, there’s nothing grey about a producer who loves his craft, the Sydney scene, and the dancefloors that make it.
- :: The FBi 20 - Mere Women
Bewitching local Sydney post-punk band Mere Women released their fourth studio album Romantic Notions in 2021. Their highly successful release of ‘Big Skies’ in 2017 was an FBi Album of Week and nominated for Album of the Year at the 2017 SMAC awards (following on from Your Town in 2014 and Old Life in 2012). This release of Romantic Notions was in no rush to meet the world, unlike its older sister Big Skies which was released shortly after bass player Trisch Roberts joined the outfit to make the Mere Women we know and love today. Roberts joined frontwoman Amy Wilson, drummer Katrina Byrne, and guitarist Flyn Mckinnirey, adding her own flavour to their signature gritty and dark sound evident across their catalogue. It is the changing thematic tones and lyrical direction that colour each release as distinctly its own. The affective anxiety and plight of ‘Big Skies’ evokes wide open spaces and feelings of isolation, whilst ‘Romantic Notions’ wraps you in a warm, but somewhat suffocating blanket of love. The band’s creative process starts with a seed of inspiration and then moves at its own pace into an intensely collaborative process that unfolds organically and with alchemical artistry. Hailing originally from Marrickville in Sydney’s inner-west, Mere Women have stayed true to their roots as they have grown and travelled far and wide.
- :: The FBi 20 - Day Ravies
Some might mistakenly believe that Day Ravies’ nod to 60s rocker Ray Davies (of The Kinks) is a sure-fire way to pin down their sound, but a meditative stroll through their discography will have you eating your words. They’ve captivated listeners with their DIY aussie pop-rock (you’ve got to give it a try) since their debut album ‘Tussle’ in 2013. Tussle was crowned FBi Radio’s Album of the Week and the ethereal and hypnotic sound of ‘I Don’t Mind’ was one of our most played tracks in 2013. The success of this release secured the band a loyal following, after luring everyone in with their fuzzy demos in the two years prior. In 2015 they secured their reputation as pop experimentalists with their second full-length release, ‘Liminal Zones’. The mish-mash quality of Day Ravies can be attributed to the mix of band members sharing writing duties. These include Sam Wilkinson (guitar/vox), Caroline de Dear (bass/vox), Lani Crooks (keyboard/vox) and Matt Neville (drums). Together, they demonstrate a level of artistry that beguiles itself as approachable, and as a result remains forever timeless.
- :: The FBi 20 - Cosmo's Midnight
Before achieving widespread radio exposure and becoming Australia’s festival favourites, Cosmo’s Midnight’s path can be traced back to FBi Radio. Hailing from Petersham, Sydney, twins Cosmo and Patrick Liney, known as Cosmo’s Midnight, started creating mood-lifting music in 2012. Our connection began in 2013 via our blog, Fade Up, where we tracked their evolving sound: dance-centric tracks with strong instrumentals, dreamy lyrics, and sky-high energy. This led to their 2015 FBi Click Residency. Since their debut in 2015, they’ve earned two AOTW titles and performed at the 2016 FBi SMACs Festival. Cosmo’s Midnight has become a leading Australian electronic export, forever intertwined with FBi.
- :: The FBi 20 - Hermitude
Let’s stroll down memory lane, rewind to 2015… Recall all those unforgettable venues and parties, and who was that one artist who was ALWAYS there? Bingo, it had to be Hermitude, right?
These Sydney’s legends have earned numerous ‘Album of the Week’ titles on FBi Radio, and their journey is a vibrant mosaic of creative evolution, a dynamic fusion of musical styles, and an unwavering drive for constant growth. Let’s not forget, their first band name was called Funk Injection – setting the tone for their electrifying path. Even though the powerhouse duo have roots in the Blue Mountains, their music exudes big city energy. We’ve seen them dominate FBi’s most-played charts with their 2012 smash-hit album, to headlining the FBi turns 10 Birthday Carriageworks. With spots on FBi’s most-played artists list in 2013 and 2015, Hermitude has undoubtedly mastered ‘THE GROOVE’. It’s no surprise Hermitude shines as one of Australia’s most beloved and enduring musical treasures.
- :: The FBi 20 - Bloods
In 2011 we stepped out of the dark, and into the arms of Bloods. MC, Dirk and Sweetie were brought together by friendship, and by a love of garage, punk and a twist of 60s pop. It’s a perfect equation, made for radio. Much like their 2013 EP namesake ‘Golden Fang’, Bloods are an institution, ushering a generation of bands that have defined the sound of FBi. Their discography spans eras – from ‘Work It Out’, to ‘Feelings’, to ‘Together Baby’ – every record marks a moment in time for the band. Each one of them bright and hooky and infectious. But it was their song ‘Into My Arms’ that really hit for FBi. In the video, the band wander the streets of Sydney – a serenade to the city they grew up in. There’s a feeling you could get on a train at Town Hall, and Bloods would be travelling right next to you.
Gang of Youths
- :: The FBi 20 - Gang of Youths
Gang of Youths? Say less. Originally formed in Sydney in 2012, Gang Of Youths swiftly took to the stage, where David Le’aupepe’s captivating vocals attracted listeners from far and wide to the band’s theatrical, but intimate sound. Within a few months of the band’s formation, FBi Radio were spinning their early demos, crowning them ‘ONE TO WATCH’ in 2013.
A simple Google search for Gang of Youths reveals a diverse musical journey. It’s a journey filled with anthemic, electric, and enchanting sounds that act as both a compass, guiding you back to your inner self, and a motivator, urging you to confront your deepest fears.
Their 2012 debut album, ‘The Positions,’ deftly balances on the edge of beauty and confrontational, purgative soundscapes. Meanwhile, their 2017 release, ‘Go Farther In Lightness,’ unravels the complexities of humanity, exploring deep love and fearless living.
From their mesmerising 2014 live performance of ‘Radioface’ on Arvos with Sweetie and Shag to the evocative rendition of ‘Poison Drum’ in 2015 for Local Live at FBi, and their collection of international awards and nominations, Gang of Youths consistently merge resilience with vulnerability. As Dave emphasised, the key is not to surpass others but to surpass your former self, leading not only to greatness, but to universal love.
- :: The FBi 20 - Julia Jacklin
Indie-folk darling Julia Jacklin’s distinct blend of deeply personal lyricism and meticulously crafted alt-country instrumentation was special from the start. Each of her three albums have been Album of the Week (in 2016, 2019, and 2023 respectively). She won the 2019 SMAC for Album of the Year, and has performed live in the FBi studio not once, not twice, but three times. From her beginnings with Salta and Phantastic Ferniture (those Christmas Extravaganzas went off!) to her critically acclaimed 2022 record PRE PLEASURE, Julia Jacklin is a master of genre who will forever hold a place in our hearts.
- :: The FBi 20 - B Wise
South West Sydney rapper B Wise’s FBi Radio journey started back in 2015 when his lyrical storytelling and sophisticated flow earned him the gong for Independent Artist of the Week. We were instantly taken by his track ‘Like You’ – a breathy, beat-heavy declaration of non-committal summer love. He came back to FBi later that year for a live performance of ‘Prince Akim’, and by 2018, earned a resident spot on our airwaves to host his own Area Famous takeover.
His debut record Area Famous was a first for both B Wise and FBi Radio – in 2019 it became the first hip hop record to take the title of ‘Record of the Year’ at the FBi SMAC Awards. No stranger to the SMAC Awards, he was nominated for Best Live Act in 2016, and Song of the Year with ‘Ezinna’ in 2021. It goes without saying that B Wise is a mainstay here at FBi Radio. He’s bridged generations of hip hop artist in Sydney, and continues to champion them himself.