Albanese listening: Labor's DJ shadow minister spins the music at fundraiser

Anthony Albanese moonlights as a DJ, pairs Black Eyed Peas with New Order and offers advice on how to get a dancefloor going

Tipped as “Australia’s latest music sensation” by tastemakers the Today program, shadow transport minister Anthony Albanese this week got behind the decks for a fundraiser, but denies there’s a career change in the works.

Billed as “Anthony Albanese’s Greatest Hits!” the two-hour Monday-night knees-up promised “a night of politics, drinks, and song” care of “the ALP’s most treasured larrikin”: “Be there or be square!”

“It was pretty good fun,” said Albanese of the event at the Bella Union venue in Melbourne’s trades hall. “We thought if we got 100 people, it would be good, but they got more than 250, and on a Monday night.

“It was a pretty good effort. People enjoyed it. People were coming out afterwards and wondering who The The were, and some of the other bands that I played that they hadn’t heard before.”

Labor MP Anthony Albanese appears on Today to talk about his moonlighting as DJ Albo.

His playlist for the night, shared with Guardian Australia via the ALP’s official Spotify account, is a mix of old and new, Australian and global tunes. It’s an idiosyncratic, irreverent DJ who kicks the night off with New Order’s Blue Monday, and mixes the Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling with PJ Harvey.

“I don’t pretend I’m a real DJ; I’m just someone who likes music. But it’s music that appeals to some people – particularly my generation, but other generations, too,” Albanese said.

Albanese broadly defines his tastes as running to Australian and British bands from the 1980s – “music that’s a bit independent, I guess” – though he says being a father helps keep him relevant.

“These days, things have to be brought to my attention – like when you’re listening to Triple J and you’re like, hey, that’s really good … I’ve got a 14-year-old son, which is how I know about Taylor Swift.”

His interest in DJing was sparked when he hosted a special election edition of the ABC program Rage. “It was a bit different having the deputy prime minister host Rage, but I got to play tracks that I liked … it got a pretty good response, according to the ABC.”

And his DJ name?

“I don’t really have one – people have given that [DJ Albo] to me. I’ve had some suggestions ... like using ‘DJ Shadow Transport Minister’ – using my title out of context.”

Of course, there’s already a DJ Shadow

“Oh, there you go.”

Though he denies a career change is in the works, DJ Albo will next be on the decks at the Sydney Reclink Community Cup in Marrickville, Sydney, on 17 August. “I’m not taking it or myself too seriously.”

.@AlboMP driving the music maker 🎶 First song played was New Order Blue Monday. And Pixies! Love! #albosgreatesthits

— Erin Bennett (@ErinBennett19) May 18, 2015

We harangued the DJ about his process. The picks are offered with the following caveat: “I haven’t thought it through fully.”

The track I’ll be opening my next DJ set with

Sunnyboys’ Happy Man

“It’s a nice, uplifting track, I thought, with a local connection. The bass player, Peter Oxley, went from being in the band to running a pizza place in Newtown not far from where the venue [for the Reclink Fundraiser] is – he’s a very well-known Newtown figure. But it’s an uplifting song to begin with.”

The track I always play to rescue a dancefloor

The D-floor’s dead? Put on Mr Brightside, says DJ Albo.

“That really went off the other night, so … It’s just a really upbeat track and gets people dancing. I think it’s one that everyone liked.” It transcends generations? “Absolutely.”

The track that currently gets the most rewinds

Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off: the people’s choice.

This one’s easy because Shake It Off is the only song DJ Albo has played twice. “It was a request at the end of my session [set].”

The track I’d play to show off my eclectic tastes

“One you probably haven’t heard of” – DJ Albo on Radio Birdman’s Aloha Steve and Danno.

“That would be one you probably haven’t heard of,” says DJ Albo confidently, when asked what track he’d play to show off his eclectic tastes. He’s right, too: who’s heard Aloha Steve and Danno, which samples the Hawaii Five-0 theme? “Radio Birdman were an Australian punk band. They didn’t take themselves too seriously. It’s just a good song. I think it’s quite eclectic, a punk band doffing their hat to what was then popular culture.”

The track that got me out of bed this morning

“I have to be honest and say, given my real job, I get out of bed to ABC Radio. I have to listen to news.”

The ideal festival track

Hunters & Collectors’ The Slab: ready for the singalong bit?

“I couldn’t decide, but I think The Slab by Hunters & Collectors. It’s just a track the audience really gets into. There’s a particular singalong section where the chorus – I won’t try to sing it – goes ‘Just one touch and everything will be all right’, and the whole crowd used to go “HUH” [grunt noise]. I think a good bit of audience participation always goes down well at a festival.”

The best track by my favourite new artist

Vance Joy: DJ Albo’s favourite new artist.

DJ Albo discovered Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy via the radio. “I haven’t seen him live – I just think his album is really good. I listen to it in the car, driving around.”

The track that should have been a crossover hit

Here Comes Your Man: “Just a good pop song.”

“Pixies’ Here Comes Your Man. I think it’s just a good pop song. Still, I think, it’s a very pop song and I don’t know if it got played on poppy, sort of, pop music stations. I still think, you know, they’re very much [an] under the radar band.”

The track that’s unfairly overlooked

The Falling Joys: slept on, says Anthony Albanese.

Guardian Australia hadn’t heard of the Falling Joys. “Exactly. Look it up on YouTube, or what have you. It’s just a classic song. It was just a classic sort of pop-rock song that wasn’t a big hit but it easily could have been.”

The track I wish I’d never played

“I don’t think it’s a very good song, basically” – DJ Albo.

“I don’t think it’s a very good song, basically. Of course it was a bit of a joke with the Barnaby Joyce thing that happened – so yeah, nah, only played as a tribute to Pistol and Boo. It was put in at the last minute, when I saw the news … there’s no need to hear anymore after you hear the dogs bark.”

The track I wish I’d signed to my label

Anthony Albanese: “Having Peter Garrett sit around the cabinet table was not what I expected”

“I wish I had a label! In my early days, given our friendship later on as fellow members of the cabinet, I always find it a little bit disconcerting that … as a young guy, I loved Midnight Oil. Then having Peter Garrett sit around the cabinet table was not what I expected.”

The track I’d play at sunset in Ibiza

“Great question. I’ve never been to Ibiza, but it’s just got a nice, big chorus. Sunset in Ibiza has to be [a song that] conjures up an idea of beach and summer.”

The track I’d play at my funeral

“You know, ‘hope you had the time of your life’. I think it conjures images of living every day to the fullest, and that, I think, is a pretty good idea. The mundane gets in the way of the desirable sometimes, but that whole idea of having the time of your life is a good thing. I hope I live long enough so it’s not a maudlin affair.”


Elle Hunt

The GuardianTramp

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