Full Circle Are Taking Over Sydney. Next Stop, The World

A Western Sydney artist collective is bucking the trends of Australian music with releases that push the boundaries of what people expect from artists down under. Welcome to the world of Full Circle. Words by Ben Madden

By Ben Madden, 17/3/2023

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The Australian music industry, at its core, revolves around three Cs: cash, content, and community.

The perks of cash and content are obvious, but it is harder to define the benefits of community, let alone recognise a genuine one. Many want to be part of one, but being able to create a community around an artist’s music is a skill that eludes a large majority of the industry. You can use artifice to create the illusion of community, of course: artists talking in “we” sentences, rather than “me”, reading out names of fan-created playlists on TikTok and asking your audience to text triple j to play your song all helps bring fans into the fold — at least momentarily.

But what does a thriving community actually look like once you strip away all the smoke and mirrors?

Western Sydney collective Full Circle are bucking the trends of Australian music, building an organic community that is connected to everything they’re doing (along with some of the most committed fan accounts in the country). Consisting of pop auteur Nick Ward, versatile producer/DJ SOLLYY, the genre-bending boyband Breakfast Road (made up of Pete, Briant and Ama), the introspective Zion Garcia, the ever-evolving FRIDAY* and the emotive Dylan Atlantis, the group consistently releases music that pushes the boundaries of what people expect from Australian artists.

Recent releases from the collective include Breakfast Road’s R&B-infused Deluxe mixtape (which features FC members SOLLYY, FRIDAY*, Zion Garcia and Dylan Atlantis), Nick Ward’s pop wizardry on his BRAND NEW YOU EP and SOLLYY and Zion Garcia’s dancefloor-filling collaboration ‘APPLY THE PRESSURE’, which features homages to fellow Western Sydney artists like OneFour and Jaecy. Pigeonholing any member of the group is futile, by the way; blink and you’ll miss their next evolution.

Full Circle are bridging the gap between Sydney and the rest of Australia, one event at a time. Whether it’s the SOLLYY-curated ‘Hotter Out West’ series, Nick Ward’s 2022 Australian tour, FC’s ‘For The Lover In You’ event or Breakfast Road’s recent sellout headline show at OAF Gallery Bar, live events serve as moments in time that highlight the group’s growth. These events also demonstrate their ability to run parallel to what is going on in other areas of the Australian music industry, forcing those around them to take notice. Their success is built off the back of community, which sits at the core of Full Circle’s purpose. It’s “everything”, according to Zion.


Zion Garcia photographed by Parris Bostick

“Especially for someone like me who tends to make everything alone, community just helps to get a sense of collaboration going,” he says. “It’s hard to grow if you’re just in your own head making every little thing a massive deal. At the end of the day, you’re not alone. There’s a place for your art, and even if there isn’t, there’s gonna be people out there who care, so you’ll find a home eventually. Everyone needs help too. So being part of a community helps me to see what ways I can actually be of help.”

The collective’s success to date is a reminder that community, when fostered, helps everyone grow. Welcome to the world of Full Circle.

Circular Quay: The Full Circle Key

Do you remember the first time you met your best friend? Asking Full Circle where they first met reveals a range of origin stories: Breakfast Road member Pete and FRIDAY* grew up in the same area, while Pete met FRIDAY* and SOLLYY at a group interview for Apple — surely Apple’s second-greatest contribution to music (first place goes to that time they gave everyone a U2 album for free). Nick was introduced to Zion via Dylan, while FRIDAY* and Nick met at an art exhibition. Reflecting on meeting FRIDAY* and SOLLYY, Pete says, “It almost feels like the beginning of a butterfly effect, because what if I didn’t sit next to Sol by complete accident?”

FRIDAY* serves as the group’s lynchpin, bringing everyone together at a gig that would take Full Circle’s existence from the DMs to the real world. His retelling of the group’s formation is a reminder of just how important even our smallest decisions can be: sometimes, these otherwise insignificant choices can change the trajectory of our lives. After meeting everyone through different means, he recalls, “I didn’t think I’d really interact with any of these people very much after I had met each of them.”

“But, for some reason,” FRIDAY* adds, “I invited them and multiple more people to a show at Circular Quay, which none of us paid attention to. Unbeknownst to me, that was the beginning of us essentially not leaving each other alone for the rest of our lives.”

There’s something poetic about Full Circle forming at Circular Quay. It’s an area that people typically pass through in order to get somewhere else, a transitional location to move through momentarily. However, for Full Circle, it represents an area where something solid was formed, sparking the embers of a movement. SOLLYY expands on FRIDAY*’s recollection.

“The first time we all linked was at this restaurant Pancakes On The Rocks in the beginning of 2022. The food was terrible. It was after this show that was being held for free at Circular Quay; Stevan and Kwame both performed. Fabian [FRIDAY*] had invited all of us there actually and I’m glad he did. We were already tight with each other separately so it was sort of bound to happen one way or another.”

FRIDAY artist shot by rejjie fanning

FRIDAY*, photographed by Rejjie Fanning

He also explains the origin of the collective’s name: “The name Full Circle came about through the entirety of us coming together being a ‘full circle’ moment to begin with. We still continue to experience full circle moments often.”

Speaking about the name, Nick adds, “It’s also kinda the in-joke of whenever we play a show and someone shouts “open the circle!” before we all jump in. Full Circle.”

Pushing Each Other Higher

Giving (and receiving) constructive criticism is something that people within the Australian music industry, by and large, struggle with. The industry is small: you’re just one bad review away from losing access altogether. This is true of broadcasters, music journalists, artists and any other job within the music industry you can think of. Want to reach the top? Don’t rock the boat. Honest thoughts are shared in groupchat DMs, conversations at gigs and industry drinks, not public-facing forums.

Part of Full Circle’s success is due to their ability to circumvent this incessant positive feedback loop, instead looking internally for honest, direct critiques.

“Having a close collective of like-minded friends has helped us seek advice from each other,” Ama says of the group’s dynamic. “We help each other in the group with creative processes, which has helped us all as a collective to move forward.”

Briant adds, “This allows us to improve ourselves as individuals, and help others too. I feel like we’re much better musicians and people having stepped outside into the community than we would have [become] on our own.”

Nick, meanwhile, points to a couple of factors that have resulted in a culture where all too often, people want to say something positive, or nothing at all. “In Australia, we definitely have a tall-poppy syndrome problem — but on the flipside, we also have a bit of a toxic positivity issue in the music industry,” he explains. “No one wants to check each other, and I think that’s a contributing factor to things being so creatively stagnant.”

“We have a bit of a toxic positivity issue in the music industry. No one wants to check each other, and I think that’s a contributing factor to things being so creatively stagnant.”

“I don’t see it as being contrarian or being overly critical — it’s just about raising the bar. We all love each other to bits, so feedback is never not gonna be coming from a good place. Sometimes I’ll give honest feedback to musicians within the whole major label ecosystem, and judging from their response — it’s like they’ve never been given feedback before. Some people are just asking you to validate them, which is a completely pointless exercise, as far as art or music is concerned.”

West Is Best

A funny thing happened when Mount Druitt’s OneFour started popping off: people started properly paying attention to what was going on in Western Sydney. However, this led to the area being stereotyped as a driller’s paradise, an area where gritty hip-hop reigns supreme. While it’s true that some of the country’s best MCs have come from Western Sydney, like OneFour, A.GIRL, Kwame and Hamza (who proudly represents South-Western Sydney), Full Circle’s various members are less the exception to the rule, instead proving that assumptions many have about Australian music largely ring hollow in 2023. No artist is an island anymore.

“They’re slowly turning their heads to the west,” Briant says. “In an area so diverse, you’re bound to find so much talent and varied influences.”

This isn’t a change that’s happened overnight, however, and it is not complete. The group recognises the importance of being trailblazers, and speaking about what’s happening at a grassroots level, SOLLYY explains that they’re already starting to see the fruits of their labour.

“It’s hard trying to make it out of a country that doesn’t really value arts to begin with, let alone from POC. We recognise the strength in us banding together.”

“At least for me personally I feel like we’ve built something that a lot of Aussie music finds hard to do, which is build a community around our work,” SOLLYY says. “It’s hard trying to make it out of a country that doesn’t really value arts to begin with, let alone from POC, so we recognise the uphill battle and the strength in us banding together and building this community. I feel that we’ve made nothing but a positive influence on the people around us. The scene in Sydney just needed confidence to express themselves and I know we’re vessels for that.”

Community Isn’t Currency, It’s Culture 

You can’t place a monetary value on community, but it does often mean the difference between a fleeting career and a long-term approach. It’s not something that’s always tangible, but it is important.

“As a person, it’s very easy to get lost in self doubt which can feel very isolating since it’s so easy to compare yourself to other people’s success,” Dylan says, reflecting on the importance of community. “Having a community of people that I can lean on for support and advice when I’m feeling down, it’s very nice having people that understand where you’re coming from and want to uplift you. As an artist, it’s very inspiring to be surrounded by people that constantly want to progress in music and be part of a bigger change in culture. It’s cool that I have people that I can share ideas with and it motivates me to take risks with my music and other projects.”

Community isn’t a fix-all for fledgling music careers, though. Nick stresses that there is an important distinction to be made between artists and entertainers, especially with regard to their intentions.

“You’re either in this for art, self-expression and connection, or you’re in this for money and fame,” he says. “I think we have way too many entertainers here and nowhere near enough artists. The entertainers love the aesthetic of being an artist, without having any of the intention or respect for creation or art culture. Think about that feeling you get in your chest when you’ve been so insanely moved by a piece of art — that’s what we need to chase and protect.”

Speaking to Full Circle is a reminder that as much as what they have created is special, it can be repeated. A running theme throughout conversations with each member of the collective is that they haven’t had to do anything extraordinary to succeed — instead, they’ve built momentum through tried-and-true methods: putting on shows, releasing music and telling each other the truth. Describing the experience of being part of Full Circle, Nick is able to see the group’s influence on those coming through.

“It is the single most important thing to all of our careers and lives,” he says. “I think the most important thing is that it’s real. Nothing to do with us is contrived or forced or planned — we’re just best friends who love the same stuff. Most of us grew up feeling really isolated in high school; not sharing any interests with any schoolmates. When I left high school and had dinner with my partner for the first time, I had no idea how to talk about all these things I loved — because they were just conversations I had in my head up until that point.”


Nick Ward, by Curtis Maguire and Jacinthe Lau

“This community really feels like a chosen family –- there’s a genuine sense of love in the room that you just need to be in to feel. In terms of pushing things forward, that’s always gonna be the aim. Everything needs to be interrogated and questioned. Art is about taking steps forward and we just wanna promote a culture of that. We also all built our careers from the ground up with zero industry connections, nepotism or financial investment — community is quite literally the reason we’re here. The DIY mentality really bands people together and we definitely notice a lot of young artists in the crowd who are on the same journey.”

“We built our careers from the ground up with zero industry connections, nepotism or financial investment — community is quite literally the reason we’re here.”

Ambition and aspiration can be seen as dirty words in Australia, but there’s a refreshing earnestness to conversations with Full Circle. Why create something if you’re not going to stand by it with your whole chest?

If you’re looking to build your own community, then it’s worth listening to those that have already made it happen. When talking about how someone can go about creating their own Full Circle, SOLLYY says it best:

“Be outside. The internet is great and all, it’s definitely helped me make great connections and I won’t ever discredit its power in building careers and strong online communities, which I’m a part of still to this day, but all of that can be supplemented so much more with going out and forming real-life connections with like-minded individuals and building together.”

Hit the pavement, go to a show, and meet your future collaborators. The rest of the industry will catch up in the meantime.

Full Circle. Top, left to right: Pete (Breakfast Road), Dylan Atlantis, FRIDAY*, Nick Ward, SOLLYY. Bottom, L-R: Ama from Breakfast Road, Briant from Breakfast Road and Zion Garcia.

Written by Ben Madden, a Melbourne-based music writer. You can follow him on Twitter at @benmaddenwriter and Instagram at @benmaddenwriter

Hero image: SOLLYY, photographed by Matt Burns

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