A debut album is something to cherish for any artist and for Tanya Batt, her debut BATTS album, The Grand Tour, holds an even more special connection to her as it combines two of her loves – music and space.
The concept album, based on the NASA project of Voyager 1, a space probe that has been hurtling through space for almost 42 years, is an ambitious feat for a debut. It’s made especially unique with the huge catalogue of sounds that Tanya was able to access – audio taken from the probe itself during its early life in the far reaches of our galaxy, before advancing past our solar system 7 years ago.
“The main idea came about when I heard the noise that Voyager 1 sent back when it crossed into interstellar space.” Tanya went on to mimic the sound that she heard, and how that sound inspired her to not only base a record around the journey, but to access the actual samples of the audio.
She continues, “I heard it on a podcast and that kind of sparked the idea for me to go emailing NASA and telling them about this idea I had and asking them if I could have all of the samples.” Through that email, she contacted the person that worked on the probe itself and managed to get access to a huge of library of audio. It’s a fascinating story.
“I went though an insane amount of white noise to try and find some good sounds. There’s lightning storms on Jupiter on the album, which is really cool”
The sheer volume of audio to wade through meant that the actual creation of the album was delayed considerably, as Tanya elaborates, “I spent three days recording the album, two weeks mixing it and a year working on the concept! A long time to sift through and learn everything I wanted to learn, to pull it off the way I wanted to, because I wanted to be able to talk about it correctly as well and be able to teach people things and not make a fool of myself in the science community!”
Such an admirable and mammoth task is to be released on the 12th of April and the tracks that have already been released highlight the sparse instrumentation on the album, surrounded by the warm voice of Tanya, along with the careful placement of sounds.
The (now) beautiful voice of Tanya Batts is something that nearly never was, according to the recollections of her youth. “I was tone-deaf as a child, so I definitely didn’t do music! I’m not sure what happened – something just changed, I guess? I just always thought that I was in tune or in key and I wasn’t!” She continues to recount her earliest recordings, “I remember I recorded Angels by Robbie Williams for my dad for Father’s Day once and I remember my brothers just screaming at me to turn it off because it was like the worst thing they’d ever heard! I thought it sounded good and then a few years later, just before we moved to Australia, I found the tape and put it on and by this time I wasn’t tone-deaf anymore and I remember just like throwing the headphones off my ears because it hurt so bad! That’s when I realised that I wasn’t tone-deaf any more, but I definitely used to be!” Where’s that tape now? Tanya admits that’s she’s pretty sure it’s destroyed! “I really hope so,” she adds with a laugh.
The minimalist techniques used on more recent recordings seem to suit the direction Tanya is heading with the crisp production and clear vocal enhancing the feeling of floating through deep-space.
Tanya tries to articulate her thoughts behind the style on the album, “There’s a heavy singer-songwriter element in it. I really like to tell stories. Obviously, space is a giant influence in it, so I really like to have atmospheric vibes within it that make people go into a little world.”
There’s a definite soundtrack feel in the songs from the album, something that Tanya gets excited about. “That’s the dream! It would be really great [to score a film or TV show].”
The album will be released on limited edition transparent gold vinyl – the colour being specially chosen due to the ‘Golden Record’ that resides on the Voyager craft. The “time capsule of humanity” disc contains sounds and images take from earth in a range of languages, portraying our diversity of life and culture. It’s a beautifully synchronous cross-over of how music, space and one person’s experience can educate and spread humanity.
Tanya expresses her excitement to finally release the album into the world. The vinyl is released the day before ‘Record Story Day’ and Tanya can’t wait to not only hold the golden vinyl, but also for others to experience her creation born from such a unique concept.
“I just can’t wait for people to go on the journey! Because I made it, I don’t know what it’s like, if that makes sense – I know what it is and I don’t know I can feel it the same way as other people.” She continues to share how she hopes it may be received, “Because it’s a concept album, it’s best listened to in full, so I really am hoping that a lot of humans take the time to hit play and just listen to it and let it take them on that type of journey that it’s made to go on.”
With space continuing to be ‘the final frontier’ and an everlasting bastion of hope, The Grand Tour too offers hope amongst the sadness; tenderness amongst the harsh realities of life and a personal and intimate opportunity to share that with a voice not afraid to show you the way.
Get your best headphones, warm up the turntable and prepare to experience the very essence of space on your very own Golden Record.
The Grand Tour is out on the 12th of April via THAA Records.
Look out for these live shows:
April 13th – Record Store Day – Rocksteady Records 10:30am
April 25th – Gum Ball Festival – Dashville
June 7th – QPAC Concert Hall – Supporting Sharon Van Etten – Brisbane
June 11th – Hamer Hall – Supporting Sharon Van Etten – Melbourne
June 13th – The Grace Emily – Adelaide
June 22nd – The Vanguard – Sydney
June 28th – Howler – Melbourne – Buy Tickets