Australian Transplant Via Tania Resurfaces with New Album | WBEZ
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Australian Transplant Via Tania Resurfaces with New Album

Tania  May Bowers' sophomore full-length album took six years to produce and brought the Chicago-based artist to several continents. Music Critic Althea Legaspi caught up with her in Austin during the annual South By Southwest Music and Media conference. Here's her profile.

Via Tania with Iceland's Seabear
Tonight at 10

SONG: Via Tania with the song “The Beginning” from the album, Moon Sweet Moon (Hours Entertainment, 2009)

Tania May Bowers' wanderlust kicked in after college in 1998. She was living in her native Australia when she felt her art was pulling her to other shores.

VIA TANIA: Like you know, I love my friends and my family and Sydney, but I just wanted to experience other things, and I'd always wanted to - also being a musician you just want to play other places and stuff like that. So, I met a bunch of Chicagoans and we became friends and I ended up coming to Chicago.

While living in Chicago she immersed herself in the music community and performed under the name Via Tania. An EP and then her debut album, Under a Different Sky came a few years later. The dreamy soundscape featured a cast of renowned artists, including Tortoise's Doug McCombs and John Herndon and Prefuse 73. And then six years passed.

TANIA: Yeah, I just completely got off the wheel of like making music and never ever stopped writing music, but I remember you know when Under a Different Sky was coming out was when I was deciding I wanted to try to live in Melbourne Australia, ‘cause I went back there for a couple years. And it was that kind of living life stuff that takes over. Like I was really busy and I didn't know where I was going to find money to record again, I didn't know how, I didn't know if the songs were good enough. You know everything with me is sort of – all projects usually just sort of overlap in this really kind of slow build kind of way.

SONG: Via Tania with the song “Lost in It” from the album, Moon Sweet Moon (Hours Entertainment, 2009)

The slow six-year build actually led her around the world, and she began tracking new songs along the way after receiving arts funding while in Melbourne.

TANIA: So I applied for some grants that I got so I actually decided that with them I wanted to travel and get you know an inspiration grant (laughing) and so I traveled around and started writing and recording in different places. So I actually went to Iceland, and I went to Paris and out in the country where my friends have a recording studio and I went to, I just kind of did this big world trip thing and then came back and started piecing it together.

SONG: Via Tania with the song “Home” from the album, Moon Sweet Moon (Hours Entertainment, 2009)

All her globetrotting of course seeped into Via Tania's songwriting, but something was missing. By this time she was straddling living between Australia and Chicago, which she still does today.

TANIA: The last song “Home,” is like asking what is home? And I think yeah, I think there's also some lyrics in the song “How Come” just about making stories and just the idea of traveling and you're making these stories and you've got something to write and sing about then. But yeah, when you're doing it kinda by yourself, it's very – like I don't think I'm ever a lonely person, but it is kind of like you are deciding where you want to be and I have these friends over here, and those friends over there and what life am I gonna pick up when I get there, you know? It's so - it's such different worlds,you know? So I think going between the two there's a certain amount of, like I would contemplate that a little bit in songs.

SONG: Via Tania with the song “Light Years” from the album, Moon Sweet Moon (Hours Entertainment, 2009)

Tania describes her music as moon pop, because she says it's a little darker though it houses pop elements. The songs on her recently released sophomore album, Moon Sweet Moon mirror the lunar pull and have been re-contextualized to match the whole. The song “Light Years” for example was too rocking.

TANIA: It just didn't fit on the record and the new vibe of the record, so we kind of redid it, just the percussion and slowed it all the way down and yeah, they've had a few different lives, the songs.

SONG: Via Tania with the song “Fields” from the album, Moon Sweet Moon (Hours Entertainment, 2009)

She initially intended to self-release Moon Sweet Moon, but after a couple years of performing the first phase of her album, the planets aligned. She now finds herself on the stylish French label, The:Hours. Via Tania is putting down roots with a full-time backing band, rather than the piece-meal approach of her past. Though she feels more grounded and says she has more career momentum now more than ever, one thing remains the same. She still looks to the night sky for inspiration.

TANIA: There's always some one of my new songs and new phase of songs that you know has some moon references. I just think it's kind of an amazing thing. And not just like just like the moon. There's just so much imagery and so much outwork about the moon and so much crazy mysterious stuff that goes on between the moon and the tides and then women, time of month – all that kind of stuff – it's like God, so many things you know relate back to the moon. And yeah I just love it as a thing, as an IDEA.

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