Like so many of our favorite artists, Via Tania should be much more of a household name than it currently is. Via Tania is the moniker of Tania Bowers, who has been making music professionally for more than two decades, first as a member of noisy indie outfit Spdfgh throughout the 1990s and as a solo artist for the past decade and a half. In that time the Australian-born artist has divided her time between Chicago and “the land down under.” Her music builds upon folk pop songwriting with a plethora of postmodern sonic aesthetics from punk to hip-hop to electro pop. She’s been praised by the likes of Pitchfork, Interview, and Vogue; collaborated with the likes of Prefuse 73 and Tortoise; and shared stages with the likes of Lisa Germano and My Brightest Diamond. February 24th will see the release of Via Tania’s latest effort, Via Tania and the Tomorrow Music Orchestra, which is… pretty self-explanatory — a collaboration of Tania’s singing and songwriting with most of the instrumentation provided by the Tomorrow Music Orchestra. The album is beautifully cinematic and soulful, much like Bjork (to whom she’s often compared) and Lars von Trier’s Selmasongs (the soundtrack to von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark, which stars the Icelandic songstress)… except more emotionally mid-tempo. The album could be described as light and airy, but with admirably intellectual foundations. I recently got a chance to chat with Tania about her career, her upcoming release, and her memories of being a child of the alt rock generation.
Izzy Cihak: Not to start with a huge question, but you’ve been making music as Via Tania for quite some time now. What have been the highlights of Via Tania?
Tania Bowers: So long! Always and ever making friends and playing with other musicians. Years ago I got a grant and went to Iceland to write. That was a great adventure. Recording with great musicians, too many to name. One of my last shows was an outdoor event in Chicago with The Books. That was a fantastic show. Releasing this album is definitely a highlight.
Izzy: You’re about to release your album with the Tomorrow Music Orchestra. How do you feel the album compares to previous releases, both in terms of sound and the process of writing and recording?
Tania: Quite different in that I didn’t play many instruments on this and it was arranged/composed for orchestra by Matthew Golombisky. The actual process for me was similar to the last two, a collection of songs over the years. But of course recording was different with many people on board and recording both in Chicago and Sydney and Melbourne.
Izzy: What would you consider to be the album’s most significant influences, both musical and non-musical?
Tania: Non-musical might be more story tale-based, songs heavy on environmental factors [laughs]. I was really aiming at taking these songs into a lighter, more playful territory than in the past. As a singer/songwriter it usually comes back to simple folk for me when writing and then I like to explore stylistic ideas later on.
Izzy: Do you currently have a particular favorite album track, or one that you feel best characterizes your current musical mindset? I’m especially fond of “Where Would We Be?”
Tania: Yes, one of my faves also. I’m going with it, too, because it’s simple and it’s quite old now, six years I think. It’s got a lot of memories in it for me.
Izzy: 2014 is coming to a close, so I’ve been asking artists about their favorite experiences of the year. Have there been any releases to drop or live performances you’ve gotten to experience that you’ve found to be particular inspiring or just satisfying?
Tania: The latest Zammuto record is fantastic. I love those dudes’ music! I haven’t been to many gigs since having a kid and now I’ve just moved way up to the mountains but I have a feeling I’ll be seeing some great stuff around here. I did just go and see the Lemonheads , who represent to me a huge part of my teenage years. So that was great fun seeing all my old friends, like a reunion!!! It’s a funny thing when you’re 18 you think you’re having adventures, having fun, not thinking you’re creating your history and informing what your life will become. But that was a cool time in my life and it’s fun to see everyone still making music regardless of what else is happening in the music world, we’re all here still doing our thing.
Izzy: In addition to the release of your upcoming album, what are you most excited about in 2015? How are you hoping and planning to spend the year?
Tania: I’ll probably be spending a large part of the year meeting new folks and hopefully starting to write another record. And renovating and getting muddy and making ART.