It had been five gruelling years since Melbourne’s born and bred cannon of rock’n’roll and country soul, Dan Sultan, had released a record.

Seeking refuge from the limelight, the now 30-year old has burst into 2014 with his blistering third studio release entitled Blackbird, which has already been greeted with critical acclaim, our own Tone Deaf reviewer praising the release, “a perfectly balanced blend of big band rock n’ roll matched with soft, soulful ballads”.

The arrival of the stunning Australian classic is not the only standout point of Sultan’s 2014 – with the frontman having recently been crowned the first ambassador of AMRAP Community Radio.

A brief digression for those that aren’t aware, AMRAP is the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project, a community radio initiative that is designed to distribute Australian music to community radio stations worldwide.

We caught up with the ‘Under Your Skin’ singer to discuss his newfound role as AMRAP’s Ambassador and the sheer importance of community radio in Australia’s music scene today. “It’s about showing my support. There’s a lot of great people at AMRAP doing a lot of good stuff.”

Sultan was very excitable and couldn’t be more thrilled to discuss his position in representing his shining light, AMRAP. “We were approached to do it, so I feel very lucky for that.”

“It’s about showing my support. There’s a lot of great people at AMRAP doing a lot of good stuff, a lot of stuff I certainly couldn’t do, that I wouldn’t be able to get my head around.”

He continued, “I’m just trying not to get in the way really” as he burst into laughter, before taking a breath of seriousness, “anything I can really do to show my support”.

AMRAP and community radio bestow a special place in the heart of Dan Sultan, having assisted heavily in forging the path to success for the Melbourne rocker. “Community radio to me” he faded out, reflecting upon its personal importance, “they’ve always shown not just me, but a lot of my friends, a lot of people that I don’t even know that are in the industry and the industry so much support.”

The ball now rolling, the artist highlighted the significance of community radio on his career, “they’ve been so important to the industry certainly on a more personal level, my career in particular. And so to be able to help out in any way I can” pausing for emphasis “it’s something I think is really important.”

Guiding us through his rise to prominence via community radio, the Blackbird writer detailed, “I was lucky growing up in and living in Melbourne and having access to great community radio stations. We played a lot of shows and we had a lot of fun and started to get a following. It was just a matter of taking our record into these places and AMRAP putting it on their books and they took it from there.”

Of course, as any aspiring musician knows, it’s not all roses.

“Not to say that it’s easy, not to say that it has been easy. When I started out it was hard for people to put me in a box or pigeon-hole me, it was pretty hard for people to figure what I was or who I was”.

This difficulty to categorise Sultan with just another slap of a label attributes to his sheer passion and undying advocacy for AMRAP and community radio, they broadcasted his sounds into Australia when others found it taboo, “I think people found it hard to understand a young aboriginal guy from inner city Melbourne playing rock’n’roll”.

Sternly speaking, he continued,  “if I was from the desert and grew up in the desert and if I sang about particular topics it might have been a bit easier, but I was singing love songs and I grew up in the inner city. It was hard, it was very hard, and it still comes up occasionally, but I had to make my own way”.

Comparing his beloved public radio to the other side of the radio spectrum, Sultan shed some light on his opinions, “I think that’s where a lot of commercial radio loses its way. They’re playing stuff that’s going to be commercial”.

Extending on his initial battles with the cruel world of commercial radio, Sultan commented, “I think as far as the business is concerned, as far as getting out there and as far as popularity is concerned I guess it was an issue”. Revealing a hot topic that all artists face in trying to ‘make it big’, “it’s tempting to just go with what’s expected of you or what will sell records or what will get played on radio. It’s really tempting to just kind of bow to that.”

Extending on this train of thought, the Williamstown local challenged, “I think there are some issues with radio just putting on what they put on and dictating, being tastemakers. There are a lot of musicians who cater to what will get them played on the radio” rushing to defend his comments, he affirmed, “I’m not going to sit here and say that’s the wrong thing to do”. “I think people found it hard to understand a young aboriginal guy from inner city Melbourne playing rock’n’roll.”

“I never really thought that my stuff would be on commercial radio” Sultan admitted, “there was a time that I thought it wouldn’t be on non-commercial radio as well”.

Evidently, these dark-clouded woes never hung too heavily over the artist, “but to me personally, I was just interested in playing the music I wanted to play and just trying to be as good as a performer I could be and having as much fun as I could. You’ve just got to be true to yourself and be yourself and go for it and fuck everyone basically” the wise man cemented.

Not to completely shit on the status quo, the ‘Old Fitzroy’ wailer noted of Australian musics’ prominence on the commercial sonic waves, “I think it could always be more. I think it’s definitely gotten better since I’ve listened to radio and certainly since I’ve been a working musician, I think it’s definitely gotten better but I think it could always be more”.  Before respectfully baring honesty, “at the same time I’m one of the people getting played so I can’t really complain on a personal level”.

Whether you’re reaching for those dollar signs in the stars or just want your sounds broadcast on public radio, Sultan provided some positive insight, “I think the best advice I could give is really try to hone your craft and just try to be as good a performer that you can you. Work out and put on a good show obviously, try to be as badass you can and have as much fun as you can.”

Exhaling a fresh breath of clarity, “this isn’t so much as advice for getting on radio, this is just advice for living your life:  if you know what you want to do and you know it’s the right thing in your heart, then there’s nothing wrong with that.” With what could be described as a verbal fist smacking the table, he attested “it might not get played on radio and you might not get recognised walking down the street, it might not work out but at least your heart is true.”

Advice abundant, Sultan proudly detailed why any music lover should give community radio a chance, “claim it. Take some ownership over it. Enjoy it. It’s there for us and it’s by us from us for us!” Before inspirationally closing, “it’s community, it’s ours, it gives people a voice, and they play a lot of great music. Full stop”.

Dan Sultan’s ‘Blackbird’ Album Tour

With support from Stonefield and Way Of The Eagle (DJ set)

Thursday 26 June – The Venue, Townsville QLD
Friday 27 June – Tank Arts Centre, Cairns QLD
Saturday 28 June – River Sessions Festival, Mackay QLD
Wednesday 2 July – Solbar, Maroochydore QLD
Thursday 3 July – Spotted Cow, Toowoomba QLD
Friday 4 July – Soundlounge, Gold Coast QLD
Saturday 5 July – Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane QLD
Tuesday 8 July – The Northern, Byron Bay NSW
Wednesday 9 July – Port Panthers, Port Macquarie NSW
Thursday 10 July – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW
Friday 11 July – Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW
Saturday 12 July – Waves, Wollongong NSW
Thursday 17 July – The Forum, Melbourne VIC
Friday 18 July – The Wool Exchange, Geelong VIC
Saturday 19 July – Westernport Hotel, San Remo VIC
Friday 1 August – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River WA
Saturday 2 August – Astor Theatre, Perth WA
Friday 8 August – Wrest Point Showroom, Hobart TAS
Saturday 9 August – Country Club Showroom, Launceston TAS
Thursday 14 August – The Gov, Adelaide SA
Saturday 16 August – Roebuck Bay Hotel, Broome WA

For tickets and info visit

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