Jim Beam Welcome Sessions was sparked by the bourbon brand’s conviction that live music experiences have the unrivaled power to bring people together, turning strangers into friends and friends into family. This has certainly been true in the lives of Flight Facilities’ two core members, Hugo Gruzman and James Lyell.
The internationally renowned dance music duo started out playing in the small clubs and pop-up venues of inner Sydney. Gruzman and Lyell met while they were both DJing around Sydney in the early months of 2008. Perhaps unsurprisingly for anyone who remembers the mid-aughts Sydney club scene, it was Sneaky Sound System who brought Gruzman and Lyell together.
“I was DJing at Sneaky Sundays with Daimon Downey, who used to rap in Sneaky Sound System,” says Lyell. “Hugo made a mixtape for him and Daimon left it in my tote bag. So I went home and listened to it and I was like, ‘This is fucking amazing.’”
Lyell tracked Gruzman down and the two struck up a rapport as DJs. “There was always a synergy,” says Lyell. By 2010, Lyell and Gruzman were ready to release their first single as Flight Facilities; the post-trip hop house number, “Crave You”, featuring vocals from Sydney artist Giselle.
“Crave You” was an instant underground hit, gaining triple j support and reaching #19 in the station’s annual Hottest 100 poll. In the dozen years since, Flight Facilities have released two studio albums and become festival heavyweights, performing at major events everywhere from the USA and UK to Mexico, Indonesia, and Iceland.
Flight Facilities’ debut album, Down to Earth, came out in 2014 and featured several guest vocalists, including Emma Louise, Reggie Watts, and Christine Hoberg, as well as Kylie Minogue, who contributed an a cappella version of “Crave You”. Seven years later, Flight Facilities released FOREVER, the official follow-up to Down to Earth.
It was a long wait, but the audience reception was anything but muted—FOREVER debuted in the ARIA top ten and was preceded by the streaming hits, “Lights Up” (featuring Channel Tres) and “FOREVER” (featuring Broods).
But Gruzman and Lyell have never abandoned their roots and the connection with their community of fans. Flight Facilities will be playing an extended DJ set on Saturday, June 11th at Sydney CBD venue, The Rooftop Sydney, kicking off the Queen’s Birthday long weekend
Lyell was initially drawn to DJing on account of his love for the Sydney music scene of the mid-late 2000s. He moved to Sydney from the Sunshine Coast in his early 20s and got to know the place while hopping from club to club along the streets of Kings Cross.
“Coming from a small town, I loved the nightlife and busyness,” Lyell says. “I would speak to people and see what was happening all night. I loved it.”
Lyell adds, “My club hopping couldn’t have happened without the Cross being the Cross. It was fucking amazing—you could just go and dance the night away and meet some weird and fantastic people.”
Flight Facilities’ Welcome Sessions performance at The Rooftop offers fans a rare opportunity to see the duo in an intimate setting. It’s the first in a trio of intimate Jim Beam Welcome Sessions events coming up over the next few months.
Jim Beam Welcome Sessions launched in 2021 as a way of highlighting the significance of local independent music venues. Jim Beam teamed up with Parisian production crew, La Blogoteque, who created a series of immersive films featuring Wolf Alice, Jack Garratt, José González and Fontaines D.C. performing in the venues that first made them feel welcome.
For Lyell and Gruzman, playing an intimate DJ set is an opportunity to relive their glory days behind the decks and participate in a unique experience with their fans.
“We’re really lucky that we’ve got a bunch of things that we can do outside of just playing as a band,” says Lyell. “We love DJing and it’s the basis of Flight Facilities.”
For your chance to win one of 50 double passes to see Flight Facilities at The Rooftop Sydney, enter here. Take a friend and have an unforgettable experience with one of the best live acts in the country, courtesy of Jim Beam.