Via Tania (Tania Bowers) is someone you want to watch, to listen to and to know. A lovely bright eyed lady who creates beautiful melodic pop songs with an atmospheric vibe. In person she is expressive and almost too pure for the gaudy style of the Norwood Club where we meet over coffee to chat about her work, CMJ (QRO CMJ recap), and the virtues of an intimate venue. Her music is both charming and unpretentious. From the bantering back and forth inner dialogue of "Wonder Stranger" on her latest release, Moon Sweet Moon (QRO review), to the edgier lush tones of "Lost In It" leave you wanting more and wondering what’s next in the world of Via Tania.
QRO: You have been in New York for the whole of CMJ so far…
Via Tania: Yeah I got in on Tuesday.
QRO: What have you been doing while in town?
VT: Honestly? Running around doing press stuff, I went to one show, my friend’s, and that was it. Everything else was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to go to this thing, I have to meet this person, I gotta go to that.’ It’s just been that kinda week.
QRO: Are you going to have any free time to play around?
VT: No [laughs]
QRO: So what are you about musically?
VT: Lovely description is, I play and sing and I write melodic songs and my music has a little, it’s like pop music but experimental. It’s just my weird songs. I think it that it’s pop music and other people are like no they’re not really. [laughs] it depends, on where you are coming from. [Live,] it’s a drummer and myself. The drummer plays keys as well, I play a little bit of keyboards and I play guitar and ukulele. So we kinda swap around a little bit and we are really into our songs. We just like to build songs and they are very textural. It’s very atmospheric.
QRO: What about the writing process?
VT: Initially… um. It’s probably a melody line that I have in my mind more than anything. Then I’ll get the ukulele or guitar and try to work out the chords. Sometimes it can happen the other way around, sometimes it’s the music or the chords first. To have something stick in my head it has to have this melody or lyric or something.
QRO: What comes next for you after CMJ?
VT: Just a couple of dates in L.A. and then I need to start, I want to write a little more. It’s the winter plan. Because I live in Chicago and it’s and even more intense winter than here. Write. And then also I’ll be down under for a couple of months, New Zealand and Australia. Get to escape for a while. Play some shows down there. Early in the new year I’ll start getting some touring stuff together.
QRO: What is your preference between writing and touring?
VT: It was always writing and recording. Within the last couple of years I actually started just really enjoying playing. It’s the combination of people and just getting to a point where you can represent. And I’m not into making the songs sound like it was on the record.
When you are not a natural-born performer who loves people looking at them and is super outgoing and stuff like that. And when you come from more of a creative writing background, it just takes a while and maturity and realizing that this is what you are going to do that this is what you chose to do. Now I have to say it is 50/50.
QRO: That’s come a long way from completely favoring writing…
VT: Yeah I really didn’t… and I even thought maybe at one point I could get away with not playing live. [laughs] Of course it’s not realistic. I mean some people do, but it just depends on how much of a careen you want it to be. It’s really interesting, I mean intimate smaller venues are what I like attending and seeing. When someone is playing at a huge show or a festival it’s like, whoa.
At the same time when we played last night and it was a decent sized room and I could hear things through the PA that I’ve never heard before. I was like you can really play your music and really take advantage of a PA. Instead of just blasting through it. The pa is almost an instrument in itself. How it gets treated and what you choose to pull through it. It’s really interesting and until last night I would prefer smaller venues but now I want to see what PA’s can do.
QRO: You’ll be going on the PA tour next…
VT: [laughs] Right, right?
QRO: Yeah it’s funny because a lot of bands complain about smaller venues but as a listener it really is preferable to be in an intimate venue and not get knocked around by a bunch of people trying to see. [laughs]
VT: Yeah. Yeah exactly. Yeah. And also they don’t have to be bars either. Different kinda venues are always interesting. The theatre spaces and stuff like that. You don’t have to be drunk and out of it, late night to appreciate good music.
QRO: How do you prepare for a show? Is there a process of getting into the mood required to put on a show for you?
VT: I usually just try and take it easy. Be quiet. Not talk too much before the show. I totally do vocal exercises before the show. I kinda like the routine of changing clothes and I usually do my exercises and false eyelashes. It’s like a nice little ritual before you go on. If you don’t do anything it’s like… I’m not one of those performers like that. I don’t need to get in a role. I don’t pretend I’m someone else. I just have never done that; I’m always just me. It gives that extra little effort in, you know?
QRO: So what are you doing for tonight’s set?
VT: We played a new song last night that went really well; it was fun. Tonight is a really short set. It’s like 20 minutes. It’s like five songs? I kinda feel like we should bust out the songs that are on the record. We haven’t quite decided. Because it is a really tiny room. Have you seen it? It’s really tiny. I mean it’s like this [gestures to something really small] It’s a small room. Yeah. So it’s very intimate. So I was like we could maybe play our quieter songs like I don’t want to blast people away. [laughs] I mean they are right there! [laughs]
I like the idea that we can change our set and our mood and our music and our dynamics by the venue that we are playing at. The kind of night we want it to be. I like that flexibility that Charles and I, Charles is my drummer, like what we are really trying to go for. We really want that openness.