BATTS have released their debut album The Grand Tour, which includes samples from the Voyager Mission. They spoke to radionotes about including those sounds in the record and more.
After doing a run of supports for Sharon Van Etten’s 2019 Australian tour, Tanya Batt the artist behind BATTS headed to Adelaide to headline their own album launch tour. The morning after they had this chat…
To listen, click the green ‘play’ triangle… [note: may take few seconds to load]
(Transcript of BATTS chat below, check to delivery in audio)
Batts had a chat – at the SA Museum which was little noisier than expected – morning after performing Grace Emily in Adelaide, South Australia. They are soon to be heard in the country of their birth with a series of date/s in the UK – including at time of publishing: 12th August 2019 at The Social London presented by ICYMI
IMAGE CREDIT: Joshua Braybrook capture of BATTS performing at Hamer Hall when supporting Sharon Van Etten.
SHOW NOTES: BATTS episode
Where to find the show to subscribe/follow:
- PlayPodcast – this link directs you, to the Podcast app on your device (subscribe to not miss an episode)
….or you may prefer to Search “radionotes Podcast” in your favourite podcatcher.
In The Box:
- Space Oddity – David Bowie (2019 – Tony Visconti) [Website/APP] NB: Re-directs to an App that will request your location to find the Moon to play tune
- Piece of Me – Megan Sidwell (Single) off Right Side of Wrong (LP – out July 19th, 2019) Remember playing this on the wireless in 2016, but have it this week as a ‘new release’ ahead of LP release.
- Welcome to My Heart – Angus Gill (Official Music Clip)
- Somnium – CLEAR (Single – LinkTo)
- King Of Kings – Hillsong (Lyric Video)
FEATURE GUEST: BATTS
- Official Site
- Facebook – Instagram – Twitter
- The Grand Tour (Album) [LinkTo – Spotify, Vinyl, Apple Music etc…]
- Cosmos: Possible Worlds [Fox]
- The Golden Record [NASA/JPL]
- Alex O’Gorman (Official Site)
- Kiki – BATTS w Ficci [Spotify]
- Sharon Van Etten (Official Site)
- Hamer Hall – Arts Centre Melbourne (Official Site)
- Lee Evans – Comedian [IMBd]
- Jeff Tweedy (Wilco – Official Site)
- U.F.O.F. – Big Thief (Album) [Bandcamp]
- Strange Negotiation – David Bazan (Album) [Bandcamp]
- The Party – Andy Shauf (Official Site)
- Saturn Bathtub T-Shirt [Bandcamp]
- Outer Space Treaty (UN OOSA)
- Chris Hadfield’s Space Oddity [Youtube] and for his duet with Barenaked Ladies here (CBC Music)
- Masterclass with Chris Hadfield (not sponsor, do own research if worth doing)
- Space interview with Dr Peggy Whitson (Guinness World Records) [YouTube] Peggy Whitson on The Drink with Kate Snow [YouTube]
- For Now – Batts (Punt Sessions) original on 62 Moons
- Overstayed Your Welcome – BATTS (Official Music Video)
- Runcast Volume 17 with John Richards – KEXP
- Every Time the Sun Comes Up – Sharon Van Etten (Official Music Video)
- Frank – Just Mustard (Official Music Video) Frank/October 7″ – [Bandcamp]
- II – GODTET (Album) [Bandcamp]
- Ashes to Ashes – Jenny Hval (Single), off The Practice of Love (Album out September 13, 2019) Pre-Order available here
Next Episode: Tetsuians
More details on playpodcast here, thanks to Matt from them.
[Radio Production – notes: Batts chat alone is about 40 minutes and heaps of great cuts off The Grand Tour to spin]
Theme/Music: Martin Kennedy and All India Radio
Web-design/tech: Steve Davis
Voice: Tammy Weller
You can make direct contact with the podcast – on the Contact Page
For direct quotes check to audio, first version of transcript by Ryan S at REV
John Murch: Tanya Batt, welcome to radionotes.
BATTS: Thank you for having me.
John Murch: Topic of choice du jour is going to be Space.
John Murch: Starting point is the album itself. Because it is a concept record, the question I want to open that with, is you were at a point in your life where music had very much taken a back seat, but there was something about Space that inspired whole album, a concept album. What was happening? What was inspirational?
BATTS: More so than music taking a back seat, it was the… I guess I was just feeling quite disheartened by all. I’d been doing it for quite a long time and the industry itself was just making me feel quite sad. I just wasn’t very happy doing it. I really wanted to make an album, though, and I love music, so it wasn’t really the music that was making me unhappy. It was just the industry side of things.
BATTS: Space makes me so happy, and I spent a lot of my time reading things and watching things on it. I don’t know why. I just have this weird obsession with it. I was listening to a podcast and I got this idea to… I heard the sound of Voyager I crossing into interstellar space, and it just gave me this idea to contact NASA and ask them for all the samples from that mission. Then that just like, yeah, it sparked the idea for the concept.
BATTS: As I got older, it became something I really fell in love with. I started watching Cosmos, Carl Sagan, and then Neil Degrasse Tyson, the remake. That’s just when I really latched onto it. I mean, something that happened in my life, which I won’t go into detail with, but I had to re-learn a lot of things. That kind of just really helped throughout that whole process and that’s why I just latched onto it, I think.
BATTS: From them on, it’s always just been this really comforting thing for me. I just find a lot of comfort in it. It’s just so beautiful, as well.
John Murch: Seems to have been a starting point that you don’t wish to mention-
John Murch: Which is fine. But that seemed to have been the catalyst for the investigation or the desire for Space?
BATTS: Yeah. That was finally enough in 2012, which was when Voyager crossed into interstellar space, so quite funny, in a sense. I like the idea of how it all came together, as well, because I think making it a concept album was how I actually managed to finish the album in general. I’m not sure if I would have just been able to write the 11 songs and record them as individual things and just put it out. I needed something else to focus on, as well.
John Murch: Let’s talk about the detail for which Space plays a part in the grand tour. How much of a time code does Space play into the record? I understand it effects the track listing, for example.
BATTS: Yeah. Heaps. The track listing was the biggest thing. The breakdown, the amount of research that went into it was immense. I mean, I spent a year researching the Voyager mission and reading a lot of books on it, watching a lot of videos, and things like that, just really trying to get my head around the mission, and just the path that it’s been going on. Then reading about planets, of course, and understanding what they were like when it went past, then what the people were feeling like who were part of the mission. It just sounds like the most exciting mission to have been a part of, I think, within JPL at that time, and NASA. Everyone just was so excited because it was just huge. It was just monumental and there was just so much excitement in it all. I just think it’s so beautiful.
BATTS: It’s timed down to the point of… Obviously there’s hidden samples throughout the whole entire album, from the moment Voyager left earth until the moment it crossed into interstellar space. You’re literally going on Voyager’s journey through space. The track listing then falls into place because I wanted to match the songs to the planet it was going by, or like the feeling of where Voyager was in the solar system at the time, and then beyond. Then I wrote a couple of songs. The end song in particular was really important to really feel like that moment of crossing into interstellar space.
John Murch: What do you imagine interstellar space actually looks like?
BATTS: A whole lot of nothing. Yeah, it’s just emptiness, I guess. I don’t know. It’s so much space in between each star and whatnot. I think that there’s just so much space.
John Murch: Because now Voyager goes on a journey that is billions of years-
BATTS: Yeah, like a crazy thing to even think about, because it’s just going to keep going for so long. It carries this beautiful capsule of humanity on it, which is just what I find so beautiful about this mission in particular. It has the Golden Records on it and it’s a little time capsule of humanity.
John Murch: Break that down for me. Firstly, a brief explanation of what the Golden Record is for those that aren’t initiated.
BATTS: Yeah, so the Golden Record was created by Carl Sagan and his team. It has Hello in 60 languages on it, and like music from different countries and eras, and like photos from Earth and just like, the best parts of humanity, I guess. Then that’s where I then came in and created the contrast within the music and told the other side of that, of what we as humans feel, which is we go through a lot of pain and heartbreak, and all that stuff. I just wrote about that, as well, and different things, and some of the simpler things that we go through, as well.
John Murch: The mechanics of the record has always intrigued me. Do our interstellar friends have record players?
BATTS: There’s record players on the Voyager space craft-
John Murch: With instructions?
BATTS: With instructions on how to play them. They say if someone is smart enough to intercept the space craft themselves, they are intelligent enough to work out how to play them.
John Murch: Your record or the music itself is the extension of the Golden Record itself, the emotionals and feelings of humanity.
BATTS: Yeah. What feelings I felt as a human on this planet. I mean, there’s a lot of fictional stories on there, as well, so like me writing as other humans or things like that.
John Murch: Feels like the Golden Record was missing a few tunes, if not an entire album.
BATTS: There’s such a large contrast of music on there, though, which is great. There’s a backbeat rumor about the Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun. I think it’s Here Comes the Sun, that they really wanted to have on there, but their publisher refused for it to on there. Apparently it’s a lie, but I’ve heard it’s along the traps. I think Paul McCartney said it was true, but you never know whether to believe him or not. Apparently their publisher didn’t allow it, so they got Chuck Berry instead, which you know, I’m happy with.
John Murch: What’s the most fascinating of the planets? You are allowed to include Pluto in this.
BATTS: I like Saturn the most. Saturn is my favorite. I just find it really beautiful. I don’t know, like its rings are stunning. I mean, it’s not the only planet in the solar system with rings, but its got the most prominent ones. It’s got 62 moons.
John Murch: What’s your favorite moon on Saturn?
BATTS: I’d probably say Titan because it’s like the one that’s most likely to harbor life. That’s pretty cool.
John Murch: I mentioned Pluto. Why was Pluto disowned from the planets?
BATTS: Basically they kept Pluto as a planet, they would have had to include over like 150 other planets into our solar system.
John Murch: We’re talking about the Grand Tour record. Did you ever think during the conceptualizing of this record that you’d have to get in contact with an octogenarian, someone in their 80’s?
BATTS: Yeah. Well, I know that obviously Voyager is quite an old mission now. Surely the people I’d be contacting that were a part of it, would be in that age group. I never knew whether they would be open to listening about the album because I was like, “Oh, I don’t know if this is a thing they would want to-”
John Murch: Because this is the amazing story, to backtrack, to get the recordings from NASA.
BATTS: I sent NASA an email and asked them if I could have all of the samples collected from the Voyager I space craft in particular. They then were like, “Well, we can’t give them to you, but we can give you the email of Don Gurnett, who built the instruments on Voyager I.” He turns the radio and plasma frequency waves into sound on a… I emailed him and he’s still electra these days, like he’s still just crushing it at the University of Iowa. I sent him an email. He got back to me and he was like, “Absolutely. Here is everything you need.” He just sent me everything over, so that was really nice.
John Murch: So you received these files, what are the sounds that were there?
BATTS: Oh, my God. So much white noise. It takes a lot to find the little gold in them. Don’t forget the technology on those space crafts is so low, just because of how old it is.
John Murch: So how was it captured? Was it 24 hour reel to reel tapes, or…
BATTS: Yeah, they’re like… They’ve got 8-tracks in there. The waves that they pick up, he has this machine down here that he uses to… It’s quite complex. I was asking him about it, and yeah, when they sent everything over, it’s so much. Oh my God, I had so many to go through. I ended up just choosing the ones… I can’t even explain how many hours of stuff I went through.
BATTS: You’d find perfect little like, treasures, of like lightning storms on Jupiter. I didn’t need much. I just needed like a five or 10 second, or 20 second thing that I could just pop in there, which I did in nearly every track. There’s a couple that don’t, like Folding Chairs on the album doesn’t have anything in because that’s at a point in the journey where they lost contact with Voyager I. That is a choice where there’s no sample in there because they lost contact with it.
John Murch: I understand that you live-tracked the album.
John Murch: How do you get what essentially are recordings from quite a while ago into the live track?
BATTS: Just in the mix process, after. I worked the Alex O’Gorman on that. I just would go in with these, you know, I had a hard drive full of the ones that I’d already filtered out and gone through. I’d be like, “Here’s some gold on these ones. Let’s go through that and see what works best.” Then we would place them through and see what would work in it, and be like, “That’s a perfect bit.” Then we would just have to make them sound nice so we would filter out all of the frequencies that were really harsh on the ears and stuff, because some of them were pretty un-listenable as they were. You just have to filter out certain ones. Some were completely untouched.
John Murch: Let’s find out a bit more about Tanya Batt, or BATTS, who joins us here on radionotes. Originally from the UK-
John Murch: Migrated-
BATTS: When I was 13.
John Murch: Good teenage hood?
BATTS: Yeah. Good. I mean, I try moving a teenage girl to Australia at 13. THat’s not a good time. Very brutal. I did not want to move to Australia at 13 years old.
John Murch: How easy was it to find friends in Australia –
BATTS: Oh, it wasn’t hard to find friends. I was the English girl everyone wanted to… You know, in a country town. But, I’d moved from like the big town of like sort of a lot of people, to a small town with like, small population. I did not like it at all. I just wanted to go home. Now I love it, and it’s home, and I’m glad my parents brought me here.
John Murch: What was the first positive moment you had in that small town that made you feel like this could be home?
BATTS: I honestly cannot say. I don’t remember. I don’t remember thinking of Australia as home until like nine years in.
John Murch: We’re heading towards 22
BATTS: When I moved to Melbourne. When I moved to Melbourne, I really felt like that was home, like the city in general. I love Melbourne so much as a city. That’s when it really started to… I moved to Melbourne when I was 18. Then once I finally started to find… I was acting at that stage. I wasn’t really doing music much. Acting was what I did throughout my childhood and my early teens and stuff, and into my early 20’s. Then music kind of took over a lot heavier.
John Murch: Let’s talk about acting. Oliver, the lead role.
BATTS: Oh, God. How do you know these things? Oh my God, that’s amazing. I played Nancy. I was tone deaf as a kid, so when I got the role of Nancy, my mom cried because she thought it was a sick joke that they were playing on me, so she told my family not to come. But then, my dad made me sing the part in the other room and he was like, “Oh my God. She’s actually good. What’s happened?” Yeah, I don’t know what happened. Something just changed.
John Murch: Well, I was going to ask, what did happen?
BATTS: I don’t know. Same with my dad. He was tone deaf until he was 20, and then something just changed. Yeah, I think it must just be something in our genes. I don’t know what it is.
John Murch: The old man is a musician, of sorts?
BATTS: He’s a singer, yeah.
John Murch: So, voice is the only instrument?
BATTS: Yeah, absolutely. He’s an amazing singer. He can entertain better than most people I know.
John Murch: Did that influence-
BATTS: Oh, absolutely. Oh my God, absolutely. I grew up matching him on stage lik every weekend of my life. I think so. I mean, I always wanted to be on stage. I’ve got my two brothers. I was the youngest, so you’re always fighting for attention. I’m quite like an introverted extrovert, I guess. I like being on stage but I’m quite an awkward human.
John Murch: Do you sort of live an itching-to-be performer?
BATTS: Oh yeah, I do miss acting. Absolutely.
John Murch: Hypothetically speaking, let’s put it out into the universe, what kind of acting would you be doing now?
BATTS: I’d probably do screen over. I did screen probably more than I did theater. I did study theater, though. I would probably do screen more. I still occasionally do a couple of things. My friend recently filmed a movie last year, a short film, and I was I that. If friends call on me, I’ll always go and help. I always love doing that. I think one of my mates is writing something at the moment that I’m going to be in, which is nice. I do like getting to do things like that.
John Murch: In your latest music clip-
BATTS: I’m not in it. I am, actually, as a cheeky cameo. I didn’t want to be in this one, yeah. I had a clear image of what I wanted for this clip.
John Murch: Overstayed Your Welcome is the latest.
BATTS: I really wanted it to be about the character in the song, and what happened after the song, if that makes sense. The song is a fictional song about that person that kind of everyone has in their life, that just kind of takes and takes and takes, and just how taxing that can be on a friendship. These two guys that had been friends forever and one of them had gone down a really successful path in life and he’s got kids now and a family, and the other one had just continuously sponged off him forever, and always had him there. It just kind of had had enough now and just that was it, couldn’t take it any more, so he kicks him out and-
John Murch: Sort of like the side kick you had as a teenager-
John Murch: And then you hit your 20’s-
BATTS: Yeah. You get a bit over them, you know? They just keep taking and they never actually… They always tell you that they’ll sort things out and get on their feet, but they never do because they’ve always got you to help them. We’ve all got one of those, I think. The clip begins the moment he gets kicked out, and it’s him walking away being really angry because it’s woe him, nothing is ever his fault. He’s walking around and he’s angry and by the end of the clip, he realizes that he’s totally alone and he’s got no one. He just has a bit of a breakdown moment and I think it’s really important to show male emotion and that little breakthrough for him.
John Murch: What you did within the electronic field was absolutely outstanding-
BATTS: Oh, thanks.
John Murch: But you needed to leave that. Was it not working for you?
BATTS: It’s just not me. I really love what I did with Fiji, who I was making music with back then. He’s such an incredible producer, like amazing. I love what we created. I love what I learnt from that. I learnt so much about dynamics within my own vocals and I really enjoyed doing it, but it’s just very much not who I am. I really like to just pick up my guitar and write, and I really like to play in my band, and really like to live track the music. To me, I really like that side of music. I like to be able to work out songs in a room with my band and just play.
John Murch: It’s been an amazing learning curve for you.
BATTS: Yeah, huge. I feel like I’ve bettered myself so much as a musician and a writer, as well, from it. The music that we made together, it’s helped a lot of people, like still get a lot of messages from people that keep finding it. That’s why I haven’t taken it down. I’m really glad that people can still have that and as much as it’s so different to what I have now, I just keep it up because it’s important for humans to be able to see a process, as well, of change, and learning and growth, and things like that.
BATTS: I mean, I started music quite late, so it was just working out what the hell I wanted to do. You just don’t know. I think you try so many different things, and Australia is such a weird industry in the sense you… it’s quite hard here. There’s so many people doing it. You try all these different things and… You don’t know what’s going to work. Then you kind of realize that you don’t really want it to work for anyone else but yourself because you’ve got to make what you want to make because you’ve got to play it. That’s essentially the point I got to, because I was going to quit.
BATTS: I wasn’t enjoying playing that live and my partner was just like, “You sit at home, and you write all of these songs on your guitar, and you do nothing with them. If all of your favorite artists came to Australia, they would never ask you to support them because of the music you’re making isn’t anything like that, but if you were releasing what you write at home, you are in so in alignment with those people.” I started releasing that, and then that led to me getting Sharon Van Etten support.
John Murch: You mentioned the partner, and I know for a fact that they are a musician, as well.
John Murch: Answer as much as wish – because I did ask Rachel Eckroth this question because she also has recently married a musician, so it’s a musician family, and they’re both touring musicians as well. What is that dynamic like in terms of getting that mix right, finding those touchpoints as musicians, as people?
BATTS: Yeah, I think the most important thing is communication. You know, when you’re away, you’ve just got to set rules in the sense of we talk every day when either one of us are on the road, which is really nice. Especially like time differences, like if you’re overseas, that’s a big one. Just making sure you know where you’re going to be and just things like that. But also, being understanding of how hard touring is as well. Just because they’re on the other side of the world touring doesn’t mean they’re having the best time ever, as well. It’s hard. Touring is hard. It’s exhausting, too. I think it’s good that we both understand what the other is going through.
BATTS: The highs and lows, as well. The comedowns from shows are so intense. Just making sure that you’re there. Also, I think it’s great to miss a person. I think it makes a relationship really strong to miss a person.
John Murch: That’s something that today’s social media, always engaged thing, has taken away.
BATTS: Yeah, I mean, when people can spend every single day together and you don’t really get to miss them, whereas I get that chance. It’s hard, but it’s nice at the same time. When they get home, there’s no better feeling.
John Murch: You’re so missing them now-
BATTS: Of course.
John Murch: You saw them… Because I’ve been away for over a month recently-
BATTS: Yeah, absolutely. He was away for a month, got home for one day, and then I came to Adelaide, so… That day he got home, I had a show in Melbourne.
John Murch: One of the biggest shows-
BATTS: One of the biggest shows-
John Murch: You’ve done.
BATTS: Well, the biggest show I’ve ever done, at Hamer Hall. He was the most supportive, amazing human. He made sure he was back for that show. Yeah, it was amazing. Like, what a night.
John Murch: I want to ask how it came about… I want to ask about the vibes and feelings of performing with, what was the experience like?
BATTS: Oh, very surreal. Very beautiful, so much love. So much love. They were just the nicest group of humans. Brisbane was first. I hadn’t played a show, really, since February because I’d been hit by a car.
John Murch: Which meant re-learning how to play the guitar?
BATTS: Kind of. I mean, you don’t really forget, but it definitely, being on stage again, like playing in front of over 1,000 people, and with one of my all-time favorites artists, the nerves were high. I’m on medication for my migraines that doesn’t make me regulate them very well, so I get overwhelmed super easy, and I hadn’t played a show since that. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to handle that, so I was quite nervous. I did like, I could cry at the drop of a hat when I get overwhelmed because you just can’t handle the emotions because of it. It’s a brain thing that things don’t connect right. It’s very odd. It’s very odd. I can’t explain the feeling.
John Murch: It’s a tethering, isn’t it?
BATTS: It’s very strange because I’m not normally like that, so it’s strange to be like this isn’t my body reacting. What is happening? Why am I crying? But crying in a really nice, overwhelmed way, but also had a slight, minor panic attack before the Brisbane show upstairs. Then I danced it out with my friend who came along with me, and then Chaz knocked on the door, and she was super excited to meet me. I was like, “What is happening? You are the best!” She’s just so lovely and full of love and so kind.
John Murch: Will you or will she be asking for a co-write?
BATTS: Oh, I don’t know. I mean, that would be a dream, wouldn’t it? I mean, I would love to write anything with her. Yeah, maybe one day. Yeah, just really grateful to have been able to do those shows. Her audience is just so beautiful, like oh my gosh. It’s so lovely.
John Murch: We’ll share a picture on the episode page from Joshua, who took an outstanding image of that evening-
BATTS: Oh, yeah.
John Murch: How important is concert live photography?
BATTS: Oh, so important just to capture it, because you don’t remember. I rarely ever remember performing. I remember Brisbane pretty well, but I don’t remember Hamer Hall. I remember standing on that stage and saying, “Take it in. Remember it.” But because I was so in my own head on stage, because I was, I think Hamer Hall Home Show, very nervous, biggest show I’ve ever played, like 2,500 people-
John Murch: Yeah, hometown audience-
BATTS: Hometown audience. The most beautiful venue I’ve ever stepped foot in. That room is just out of control stunning, three levels, as well.
John Murch: Because you’ve got to think you’re on the wrong side of the room, because you’re on the stage, not in the audience.
BATTS: Yeah, and I’ve actually been to that room so many times to watch orchestras play, and these symphonies, and comedians, as well, on that stage. It was very odd. It was just this really surreal experience. I was just like what is… And it was just me, you know? So just like one human playing to all of those people, it’s quite strange. Yeah, so loving. The whole experience was just something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I just feel very grateful to have a crew that nice and people who are at that level, never know what to expect, I guess, and they were just all bloody lovely.
John Murch: You mentioned comedy. Let’s cut this up a little and ask what are some of your favorite comedians and Why?
BATTS: My favorite comedian in the whole entire world is a guy called Lee Evans. He’s a British comedian. He actually holds the record for most tickets ever sold in England for… He’s sold like, ridiculous. He is like, the best comedian ever, in my opinion. Highly recommend checking him out if you haven’t. He’s the best. He’s an observational comedian, just brilliant. He’s just the funniest man. He just speaks so quickly and he runs around, and he’s got little a rubber face. He just moves… Oh, my God. He’s just the funniest human. He just sweats so much. You’ve never seen a human sweat like that.
John Murch: I can’t remember the band at the moment, but there used to be a band, and they used to have comedians as they’re opening.
BATTS: See, I’ve spoke about this a lot with a few people because I would love to do that.
John Murch: How do we make that work? How do we make comedians the opening act for a band? It just seems so organically correct.
BATTS: Yeah, I mean, it’s a hard one because firstly, you want to support other musicians, as well, you know? It’s like having the platform of combining the arts is really great, good to do both, maybe you have one music group, and one comedian. I’ve thought about doing that, but, or even if you have like a little in the middle of sets, like a five minute or 10 minute slot, but then that becomes increasingly more expensive. I think it depends what level you’re at. Would you give them a half an hour? I don’t know. I don’t really know how to make it work.
BATTS: I would like to see someone do it, or I would like to try and do it, and then… Or speak to, I’ve got a few comedian friends, and see what they would like to do. I mean, I’ve thought about it heaps because I really love, I love comedy so much. So much.
John Murch: That brings us to Jeff Tweedy.
BATTS: What a human. What a human. Did you enjoy his show the other week?
John Murch: On your recommendation, I stayed.
BATTS: I’m so glad you stayed. Oh, he’s so good.
John Murch: As terms of, I don’t know if he thinks he’s a funny man. He definitely wasn’t trying to be a funny man, but he is hilarious.
BATTS: Oh, he’s so funny. He’s just like one of the all-time best songwriters we’ve ever had. To watch him live was just so good. I just wept.
John Murch: We’re currently in conversation with Tanya Batts, that is BATTS the artist, and The Grand Tour is the latest album from them. What are you listening to at the moment apart from your own work?
BATTS: Oh, that’s a nice question. Big Thief. I’m a very big Big Thief fan. They’ve just released their new album, UFOF. I love David Bazan. I’m still listening to his album, Strange Negotiations. It’s from 2011, but I only discovered it last year. I’m obsessed with it. I’m a big Andy Shauf fan.
John Murch: Yeah, I noticed. Who is Andy Shauf?
BATTS: Andy Shauf-
John Murch: I had never heard of him.
BATTS: Is from Canada. You’ve got to listen to him. Like, I cannot even begin to express to you how good this man is. He released an album called The Party and he produced and recorded every single instrument on it other than the strings. He taught himself clarinet-
John Murch: Was that a concept album, I heard you say?
BATTS: He doesn’t like to call it a concept album, but it 100% is a concept album.
John Murch: Sorry, Andy.
BATTS: It is a concept album, I’m sorry, Andy. It is a party from all different characters’ points of view. It is so good. Like, oh my God. It blew my mind. They’re all fictional characters.
John Murch: So when you say it’s a party album, it isn’t like dush dush-
BATTS: No, no, no, no, no. It’s set at a party. Each song is from a different character’s point of view.
John Murch: That’s so would play into your theater mind.
BATTS: Oh my God. It’s so good. It’s so good, like ridiculously amazing. You have to listen to it.
John Murch: So it’s got more than one listen on it?
BATTS: Oh, I can’t express how many times I’ve listened to that album.
John Murch: Once you do a concept record, what do you do next?
BATTS: Oh, yeah. I’ve been thinking about this. What do I do next? Do I just be a concept person or yeah, I don’t know, actually. I haven’t really thought about the next one yet. I guess I’ve randomly been writing every now and then, but I really don’t know what I’m going to do next. A tour of the UK in August… But I’ll just keep writing and then I’ll decide.
John Murch: There’s so much education that can pivot from this record on Space.
BATTS: Ah, there’s something happened there. I just can’t… Oh, yeah. There’s definitely something happening there. They may be someone, something, somewhere building a whole entire experience for it at a very special venue. Then I may get to tour it around the world at very special venues.
John Murch: Does it involve a doctor?
BATTS: Ah, yeah, I guess so.
John Murch: Good.
John Murch: What fact do you want to share with us today?
BATTS: I’ll share two.
John Murch: Okay.
BATTS: This is one of my favorites because it’s mind blowing for me, anyway. I remember the first time I heard it, I was like, “What?” This is one… Because we were talking about Pluto, I feel like I should share it. This is that Russia is bigger than Pluto. Maybe that’s why it’s not a planet.
BATTS: Second fact. Saturn is less dense than water, so if there was a bathtub big enough, Saturn would float.
John Murch: Wouldn’t that look great on a t-shirt?
BATTS: Oh, it would. It would look great in a t-shirt, and you can get those one my Bandcamp.
John Murch: When Tanya looks out to the stars, of an evening, it’s a clear night. What do you see when you see look at the stars?
BATTS: I don’t know. I just get really calm. I get really grateful. I don’t know why. That’s just always… I’ve always done this little thing. It’s so lame. I live in the city, so I don’t see that many stars, obviously, unless I go out to the countryside where my parents live. I always say like a little thanks to the seven stars I might see in the sky in the city. Each one, that’s something about that’s nice in life. Yeah, I don’t know. I just really like it. It just calms me. The vastness of how large it is, like you know, that just makes me get all calm.
John Murch: The insignificance of self doesn’t concern you?
BATTS: No. I think that is the reason why it makes me calm, maybe, because everything is so in your head sometimes. Isn’t it nice to just make you realize that we’re just a part of this bigger thing?
John Murch: Who owns the skies?
BATTS: No one. Absolutely no one. I hate that. Makes me so mad. Makes me so mad that anyone here on Earth thinks-
John Murch: I don’t want to get you mad, but I want-
BATTS: Oh, God.
John Murch: You view on it because-
BATTS: God. It’s so stupid.
John Murch: We’re heading down that way.
BATTS: Ugh. That’s when I hope that aliens exist and they just come and blow them all up. Do you know what I mean? Like, how greedy.
John Murch: Like you’ve had your go.
BATTS: How greedy. Makes me so mad. There’s a space treaty that was created way back, so there is a space treaty. You can’t own… You can’t make war over a planet or anything. No one can own it.
John Murch: Just down the other end of this road is where the Australian Space Agency would be.
BATTS: Oh, really? Oh, that’s so cool.
John Murch: Who’s your space traveling hero?
BATTS: Oh, Chris Hadfield. Or no, Peggy Whitson-
John Murch: Chris is all right.
BATTS: Yeah, he’s good. Peggy Whitson is really amazing. She’s clocked up the most amount of hours for any woman in space. It’s amazing.
John Murch: With all your knowledge-
BATTS: Oh, God. I’m just going to put a disclaimer out that my brain is very much so not working very well this morning.
John Murch: Well this is more a matter of the heart than the brain, but the brain will tick it over.
John Murch: How much do you believe Elon Musk?
BATTS: Oh yeah, I think he’s a brilliant man. I think he’s very, very, very intelligent, stupidly intelligent. I think he cares about the world a lot. Also, he has reached pretty much all of is deadlines, like a lot of his deadlines, a lot of, eventually, anyway. He is-
John Murch: So all of his ventures, that of space seems to be most consistent-
John Murch: And the most on-target.
BATTS: Yeah. He has really, really come through with a lot of his creations and like, ideals that he’s come up with.
John Murch: So the brain part is do you think Elon will get there in the next three, four years, to Mars?
BATTS: To Mars, I don’t know. I mean, not three four years. I definitely think someone will be there in the next five to ten.
John Murch: Who should we be sending up to space next and why?
BATTS: I just think whoever’s best fit for the job to go up. I think whoever is safest, whoever can actually… Because you know, obviously, we’ve got to go to the moon and redevelop there so we can then use that to get to Mars. I just think whoever is best to go there and create what we need to create there to use it as a base to get to Mars. I think whoever is best for that job and whoever is safest to go there so they don’t get in any trouble and their lives are safe. I think it’s just… All this stuff about sending up rich celebrities and rich humans just so they can see, I just don’t think we’re ready for that yet.
John Murch: Then Branson wants-
BATTS: Like Branson wants to do it, yeah. He wants to do it, and he’s like, pretty keen on that. I just think like, keep it in the science community for now. Keep it in the people that have trained their whole lives to know what they’re doing before we start sending civilians into a place where they could lose their lives so easily. Do you know what I mean? People who have trained forever are still losing their lives up there, so I just think that we should just keep it safe.
John Murch: You mentioned Chris Hadfield.
BATTS: He’s so good. I sent him mail, but I’ve had no response yet.
John Murch: Because I was going to ask, from that, what Chris is somewhat known for is that of his, space obviously, being to space, that is a David Bowie tune. What sort of inspiration has Bowie been for you?
BATTS: Huge. I love Bowie so much. I grew up on quite a bit of Bowie. My mom’s a big Bowie fan. I just love how… Oh, everything about him. Like musically, he was just so I don’t know. I feel like he just tried so many things. He had no cares of what people thought. He just really broke down so many barriers and norms and was really innovative with what he was creating and tried so many different things. I think that that’s important Like all these personas and things that he took on and things like that, like I just… And the different music that came from that, as well. Becoming a different character and then seeing what that creates, like I really love that. I have endless respect for that man. I think he’s brilliant in every way. I’m such a big fan of all of his music, even up to his last album. His last album is incredible.
John Murch: Do you, at this point, currently 28, have a sense of a lifetime’s work now in music, of where you want to take your musical journey?
BATTS: I just want to keep writing, really. I just want to keep getting better, and trying to learn and create new things, and work with people that I admire and like, and… I love making music with my band. I learned so much from them. Yeah, I just want to get to travel and work with other humans as well, and just play music around the world.
John Murch: When you look at the record itself, The Grand Tour, which is available now, if it was a brand new, spanking BATTS planet, what kind of planet is it? Because you say throughout our conversation that it is the humanity side of the Golden Record that’s portrayed through your music on The Grand Tour. So what kind of planet would we be landing on if The Grand Tour was a planet?
BATTS: Oh God, no. It would be awful. It would just like this, wouldn’t it? It would be a sad one if it was anything like my bloody songs. I guess the record in itself is just meant to be like it’s not this solar system in particular, but I guess the songs… the songs are sad, but they’ve got hope in there. There’s hope in there, so hopefully a hopeful planet.
John Murch: What feelings have you got out of making this record? What’s the emotional machinations made?
BATTS: I’m very proud of it. There’s a lot of… I’m very proud of everyone involved. I guess that’s the biggest one. Very proud of myself for completing it and making the record. I had a lot of fun. There was just like, so much fun in creating it. I learnt so much and I love to learn. I absolutely love learning. That was the funnest thing throughout it. And yeah, the biggest one is definitely just feeling proud of everyone involved and what they added to it and just like, it was so much fun. We live tracked it in three days and-
John Murch: You cannot underestimate that. The live tracking is what has made it such a stellar record.
BATTS: Totally. The energy you can feel in the songs, we just knew when it was the right one. Like, my band is so good. They’re just so amazing. I’ve got Adam Dean on lead guitar. He’s amazing. I’ve got Ross Beaton on modular synth. He’s the one that makes all of the incredible sounds throughout, and that’s why you never really know what’s a space sound and what’s Ross. That’s one of my favorite things about the record in itself. Then like Lachlan O’Kane on drums. He’s my favorite drummer in the world. So lucky to have him play. Brendan Tsui on bass, just an absolute bass lord, like so good. The whole team of people I worked with, so good. I was just… It was such a seamless, easy experience.
BATTS: I’ve had such terrible experience previously, at times, especially when I first started out doing music. Sometimes you just get in these terrible experiences, and this was just easy. It was just to nice and relaxed and fun, and just lovely and enjoyable. I got to engineer with Isaac Barter and he’s just so easy and lovely, and cares. He mastered it, as well. Alex O’Gorman to mix with was just the best. I just got to sit in this room with him and mix this album and he just like, was so enthusiastic about it, and gave a… and listened to me and that in itself is just so rewarding and… Nice people. Just working with nice people is just bloody great. Finding those people to work with is just the best feeling.
BATTS: Yeah, that was something I got out of it. This can be easy. You can get stuck in these awful ruts of just like working with sh** people and… or getting caught in these sh** situations, and then feeling really disheartened about music and not wanting to do it, or whatever.
John Murch: So one of the best decisions you made was to get out of the music industry for a while?
BATTS: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, and just take a step back and chill and then find the right team to work with. Now it’s incredible. I’m so stoked. I mean, I’m talking like years and year and years ago. I’ve had good people around me for a long time now-
John Murch: Yeah, sure.
BATTS: This was just great. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to make my album.
John Murch: Tanya Batt, BATTS, thanks for joining radionotes.
BATTS: Thank you so much for having me.