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The glamorous, yet humble Via Tania, aka Tania Bowers, wasn’t so sure she wanted to be a front woman until someone suggested she take on the role of singer when she was still a teenager performing music with her sister in Australia, where they grew up.  In those days, she wasn’t yet eighteen, and she thought she’d prefer writing songs for other people.  Singing in a band was something she fell into by chance.

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Now that Tania is a touring singer/songwriter in her own right, with a recent U.S. release of her solo album Moon Sweet Moon, (her first in six years), she’s become quite comfortable with her live act, and is constantly evolving her songs to fit the mood of the moment.  Tania’s instruments of choice for writing and reworking songs is her beloved ukelele or the guitar.  Otherwise, she’ll just get a beat going in the background and start to write a melody over it.  “It’s funny.  The songs change so much and get so much tighter as we play out more.  When we’re on the road, I’m always saying, let’s change it up for the next day, not just for the audience but for ourselves.  When a song’s been sticking around for a while, you might as well do different versions.  And sometimes what we rework becomes a whole new song.”

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Since her album’s called Moon Sweet Moon, you might guess that the moon theme is a prominent one in Tania’s oeuvre, and yes, she fully admits to feeling its power, especially when it’s full.  She says, “You always know!  Someone will say, ‘it’s a full moon’ and that always explains things that are happening.  It’s really fascinating, such a serious yet romantic thing.”  Besides the moon, she’s found some other recurrent themes in her writing, from words like “universe” and “atmosphere” to ideas based on them, such as what surrounds us, and how vast it all seems.  She laughs, “Those are themes that come up for me, like ‘what is everyone doing here?’”

Tania’s other passion is her “grounding” work as a makeup artist, and naturally, she’s one that brings her flair for the theatrical to her stage performance.  “It comes from doing it enough and having the confidence to stand out more,” she says.  “When I first started playing, I’d be in my flannelette shirt thinking, ‘My music doesn’t have anything to do with looks or makeup!’  Now that’s changed a bit.  But when people ask me what I think about someone like Lady Gaga, I just think ‘That’s so much work!’  She must love all that or she wouldn’t do it.”

On her recent U.S. fall tour, Tania brought along regular percussionist/drummer Charles Rumback, and the duo played dreamy, yet paired-down sets that were just as emotionally-charged and captivating at intimate CMJ party settings as they were inside vaster venues like NYC’s Le Poisson Rouge.  For Christmas, she’ll leave Chicago, (where she’s based for part of each year), and go back to Australia for their summer, (as well as New Zealand, for a short honeymoon).  SXSW will be Via Tania’s next U.S. stop, which will be followed by a spring tour.–Madeline Virbasius-Walsh/live photo by Teresa Sampson