“Chicago is like cement,” said Tania Bowers, a Sydney native who performs as Via Tania. “Once you get here, you stay.” In 1999, Bowers visited the U.S. from Australia to spend time with friends in Chicago. Since then, her “temporary working holiday” has turned into her new life in America as recording artist Via Tania.
“I think it’s more creative to have a slightly different name. It’s me, but not necessarily me,” she explained. “If you remove the ego, I’m producing this stuff, but only because it’s coming from somewhere else — another channel.” Adding, “I wanted a name that was really honest.”
Her album, Moon Sweet Moon, a collection of electro-infused songs mixed with the acoustic sound that has defined her solo career — so far. After playing in a band named SPDFGH, a chemistry term, with her sister Kim Bowers and friends for seven years, she started a new project.
“I was pretty young,” said Via Tania in a phone interview before heading to Finland to work on her next album. “I think I was 15 or 16. We started to play at schools and battle of the bands.” By the time she was 21-years-old, the band broke up and she began recording at a friend’s makeshift studio. “I didn’t want to play loud music for a while. I wanted to play something really different,” revealed Via Tania, “that felt more quiet and acoustic.”
Songs like “Wonder Stranger” and “Fields” epitomize this melodic melancholy. Yet, her next album broadened to incorporate dance and DJ remixes. “I really like collaborating.” She said. Via Tania’s perpetual creative freedom and movement to new music genres keeps her inspired. She enjoyed playing a show at Millenial Park with electronic band, The Books. “I’m super into The Books right now,” said Via Tania as she also listed several Ethiopian and Malian bands as her list of favorites.
“People want to get and hear personal and honest music,” shared Via Tania as she discussed her fascination with infusion music from North Africa. We can’t wait to see which new music territory we’ll find Via Tania next.
“Our Wild Fight”
"I was an outsider from an early age," says Tania Bowers (aka Via Tania), a Sydney native who's weaved in and out of the Chicago music scene for the past decade. "I've always been quite comfortable with it, though."
From the snow globe soundtrack of "Wonder Stranger" and cosmic disco chords of "Our Wild Flight" to the layered loops of "Light Years," a murky waltz guided by melancholic melodies -- Via Tania has always sounded like a long day's journey into night, as if the sun just set and you're suddenly surrounded by towering trees and the entire cast of Where the Wild Things Are.
Her album, Moon Sweet Moon is like a parallel dimension that begins innocently enough (the echo chamber keys and buried shuffleboard beats of "The Beginning") but quickly turns bizarre. "I like having the no-brainers up front," explains Tania, "And the darker, more psychedelic ones toward the end."
Tania and her older sister Kim spent most of their teen years developing the different shades of SPDFGH, their band. Founded by the Bowers and a couple of friends at their all-girls school, the quartet explored everything from lightly-sweetened pop tunes to twisted takes on math-rock and hip-hop.
"We all wrote and sang," she says, "so it was a little crazy. Songs would sound folky in my room, but then we'd rock them out in the band."
They disbanded by the time Tania turned 21, but not before releasing a stack of singles and one genre-jumping album on Half a Cow, the label of former Lemonheads bassist Nic Dalton.
"Via Tania came out of a need for personal space," says the singer/multi-instrumentalist, explaining her set pieces and scene changes. "Even when I was a teenager, I liked to process things at my own pace and write about things alone. In fact, I have a cassette from when I was 14 years old, and the songs on it would fit perfectly in my sets even now."
"I love new situations and experiences," says Tania, "taking the challenge of making a new space, meeting new people, writing new songs. You can look at things from many angles, and then you move on -- you change again."