Interview with Tanzer

Melbourne composer and chanteuse Tanzer has unveiled her latest single Johnny from the upcoming EP Four Love Songs By Tanzer, due for release May 16th. To celebrate the EP release, Tanzer and her flawless band will take over the Toff in Town on May 28th, headlining a glittering multi-arts line up that is sure to amaze! In this interview Tanzer discusses the making of her EP, a few colourful flashbacks from the past, fashion collaborations and her love of vinyl.

Congratulations on the release of your single Johnny from your soon to be released debut EP Four Love Songs By Tanzer. Can you tell us a bit more about the four songs? Where did you draw inspiration from when composing these pieces? Do the songs form part of a larger narrative or stand-alone?

I’ve been writing songs for this project on and off for years, and when the time came to execute the arrangements properly I realised I had a suite of songs, all dramatically addressing different doomed lovers. When my heart breaks, I hear strings and choirs – what a drama queen!

What was it like working with Angus Leslie on your debut EP?

Wonderful. I’ve never met someone with such an intersecting music taste to my own. His instincts and creativity are inspiring and I left these sessions a better musician for what we did together.

When did you first develop an interest for music, stage performance and storytelling?

My mother tells me that as a toddler, when I was scolded and sent to my room, I’d slink out minutes later and stand at my parents’ door, improvising a song about how sad I was and how nobody loves me. I never stopped!

How did you establish your stage name, Tanzer?

Tanzer is my mother’s family name, and the women in this bloodline had a great part to play in the coolest things about me today. This is my first solo project so I thought it was a nice tribute. It also translates to ‘Dancer’ in German, so I might have to add a disclaimer to my future German tour posters!

Where do you source your elaborate stage clothing from and is your day wardrobe similar in style?

I managed to befriend Melbourne’s most magical costumiers Alice EdgeleyGUN SHY and Anastasia La Fey. I’ve been dreaming up crazy outfits with Alice in particular for some years now and our friendship always leaves me inspired and sparkly. My ‘day look’ isn’t much different, just more lycra than sequins.

Last year you and Kira Puru released a split cassette through Healthy Tapes (Australian experimental cassette tape label). How did that all come about?

Kira and I have shared bills for some years now and had both recently released sprawling heartbreak epics. She introduced me to Healthy Tapes’ main man Lee and we concocted a little pink nugget of ex-love together. She’s a special one.

What was it like performing at this year’s Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney?

Wild! I sang an operatic number dressed as a glittering golden Queen atop a throne on the back of a truck, flanked by my Melbourne honeys Dandrogyny and Storven. The float belonged to Snatch And Grab – the Sydney crew behindGirlthing, who I’ve been DJing with for years and years now. It was an honour.

Five fast questions for five fast responses:

  • When was the last time you received a handwritten letter/card? 2013.
  • Have you ever been stung by a bee? Never.
  • What was the first concert/gig you attended and where was it held? Young Talent Time at an arena in Sydney – I don’t remember it but my mother assured me I cried through the whole thing.
  • What is your all-time favourite film? Little Shop Of Horrors – the original 1960 version, not the 80s musical.
  • Do you visit art galleries often? Definitely not enough.

Fans of your music currently have the opportunity to purchase a limited edition red heart-shaped vinyl of your soon to be released EP. Do you have your own record collection and if so, which genre or artist is most represented? Also, do you own any other obscure shaped records?

I do have my own collection, and the most recurring artist would probably be Split Enz. They’re also responsible for my most exotic-looking record – the laser-etched True Colours is a real beauty. No crazy shapes beyond my own just yet.

Costumier and couturier, Anastasia La Fey, created a one-off photographic tent dress (incorporating your own EP cover art) for your forthcoming “Johnny” music video. How did this collaboration come to fruition and where is the dress now?

Anastasia is a dear friend who surprised me with the dress after conflicting schedules meant we couldn’t do my own costume for the video. The dress is currently in her studio and ready to upstage everyone at my vinyl launch party this month.

If you had an unlimited budget, what would your dream stage performance look like and where would it be held?

I’d immediately allocate a zillion dollars to each of my performer posse in Melbourne, make it a beautiful collab, and tour it around the world.

Finally, what’s one piece of advice you’d tell your fifteen-year-old self?

Don’t be scared to say ‘I love you’ x

This interview was first published on for Amnplify.

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