World music lovers should keep their ears peeled for Koori Radio’s recent volunteer broadcaster, Miguel Buendia, as he takes his Nomad Radio project on a world tour, celebrating and highlighting the rhythms and songs of immigrant musicians across the globe.
Miguel recently launched his Nomad Radio program on Koori Radio, featuring a line-up of local world music artists. Miguel now plans on recording the next instalment from Budapest in Hungary, where he’s headed to work at the Sziget Festival.
On his final day with us at the Gadigal studios, Miguel joined Helen Anu to co-host a special world music edition of the Breakky Show.
How have you enjoyed your time at Koori Radio?
Miguel: I’ve enjoyed it a lot, it’s been a great experience and unexpected in a good way. I came here after talking to a friend about an idea I had for a radio project and she said to me ‘you should go to Koori Radio’. I live around the corner and I wanted to learn more about community radio and to develop my own world music project.
Where does your interest in radio start?
Miguel: I guess it comes from music first, that’s something I’ve always been passionate about. My interest in radio came with that. I grew up listening to many programs back home. I used to sit down next to the big old Hi-Fi we had at home, put my headphones on every week and listen, and I fell in love with that.
Miguel: Home is in South East Spain, a very touristy town called Torreveija, which got its name from a defensive tower that was built to defend the coast against Turkish pirates. That’s where I grew up, my family comes from Grenada. Southern Spain has always had a great connection with music, flamenco and many rhythms, and my parents brought that with them to our home town.
How did you wind up in Australia?
Miguel: I was working in advertising as a writer and eventually I said ‘I’ve had enough of this’. I quit my job and went back home to save money and work on some music festivals and I thought this is a path that I’d like to follow. I wanted to learn how to produce and how to make music events possible, so I applied for a masters in Arts Management in New Orleans, but I didn’t get accepted. Plan B was Australia. I got accepted at the Australian Institute of Music and since that time I’ve been producing some music shows with a Venezuelan friend of mine and working at 107 Projects in Redfern.
What did you know about Aboriginal Australia before you got here?
Miguel: Nothing really, just what you see in the typical documentaries of National Geographic and that sort of thing. The only image I had of Australia was the blonde surfer from a place like Byron Bay or something like that. So, when I came here I got really excited that there was this other side of Australia, but you had to dig in, you had to scratch the surface in order to find people like the people here at Koori Radio, and learn about such an interesting and long running culture. When I arrived in Australia I thought Sydney was quite superficial, I thought, ‘where are the real people here?’ Then I discovered the Aboriginal culture and I started learning. The team here (at Koori Radio) is awesome, really great, authentic people – truly warm – and thats a thing that I was craving for in Australia, coming from a Mediterranean country, because in general terms the Anglo world is not that warm, it’s very individualistic in comparison to the culture where I come from. I found the Aboriginal culture has that thing I couldn’t find in regular Australia.
So what type of music are you into?
Miguel: It’s difficult to answer. If you give it the time, music is an ongoing learning process that never ends. Now, for instance, I’m very interested in Afro-beat, but still my favorite band is Queen, because I don’t think anyone else can do what they did, that sort of rock-opera. But I really love funk and soul as well. I got into jazz from a friend of mine who was a jazz and hip hop DJ. Prince as well. I really like traditional things from my country, such as flamenco, latin music, Caribbean music is really interesting, Cuban music is also incredible. I’ve really enjoyed the Indigenous music I’ve heard here. I recently listened to Mau Power on a road trip. Bart Willoughby was really cool, he has really different stuff. A friend of mine showed me a beautiful record by Gurrumul.
What’s your ‘Nomad Radio’ project all about?
Miguel: Nomad Radio is two things. It’s essentially a radio program recorded in cities where migrant cultures are living, so its a program to discover the sounds, traditions and stories of different communities. For instance, I’ve recorded Latin American, Balkan gypsy, and Middle Eastern artists from here in Sydney. The focus is on migrants who often have really interesting stories behind them. The second part of the project is to build an online radio station with collaboration from other radio stations or independent producers. So there will be lots of different programs under the one Nomad Radio umbrella. The purpose is to promote world music straight from the source and to help generate funding for broadcasters and producers to develop their programs, and for musicians to create their music. It’s an ambitious idea, it will take time but it will happen.