Tanzer invites us into her wonderful world

Hayley Foster is Tanzer, the kind of performer with a sound and look so dynamic even a brief encounter will leave you dazzled. Tanzer tells us about the inspiration behind the video for her single 'Johnny' and gives us some background on her new EP Four Love Songs by Tanzer.

The video for ‘Johnny’ is incredible! The colours, the narrative - it's almost too good. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the video?

Gosh. thank you. I tend to dream up full video treatments in my head and this is the closest I’ve got to replicating the vision in real life. The song is about a musician - but casting ‘Johnny’ as a gruff biker with a sparkly secret was a less obvious and cuter choice. I always heard a little Grease soundtrack in the song behind all the deranged Spector vibes, and so the girl/boy gang motif remained through every incarnation of my treatment. It also meant I got to enlist my very own Pink Ladies-style girl gang - who also happen to be my 'girl gang' in real life [Karen From Finance, Benjamin Hancock, James Andrews and Dandrogyny]! Lucky me! Those performers astound and inspire me tremendously, and working with them on this video was the greatest. They also double as the biker gang, which not many pick up on because their drag is so wild. 

The lineup for your EP launch is HUGE. Could you tell us a little bit about each act on the bill?

Sugar Fed Leopards are the other musical attraction, I met them while touring with my previous band and was just floored by their shimmering charm and irresistible repertoire. Every queen from the Johnny video is doing their own solo number, as are my new friends The Huxleys, a glamorous and surreal performance art/dance/film/magic duo - Will Huxley was originally cast as my romantic lead in the video, so I’m so glad I can steal him and his beautiful husband for my big show, I adore them so much. And Sex On Toast DJs have impeccable taste and dance to their own set all night long - bloody ripper!

How long have you been working on the songs that feature on Four Love Songs by Tanzer for?

A little longer than I’d planned! The arrangements are so dense and my funds continually dwindled so it was quite laborious, but the resultant timing ended up so perfect, particularly with the music video coming together, that I wouldn’t change a thing.

How long have you been gigging around Melbourne as Tanzer? Any particular gigs that serve as highlights in your career so far?

I started about 18 months ago, and have been lucky to play with a wonderful band as well as solo as part of weird and wonderful variety nights with my Melbourne queer family. I can’t pick a highlight, I feel very spoiled. 

The glittery red love heart record is such a fabulous idea. Do you collect records yourself and what do you think has contributed to their revival?

I have a modest but cherished collection and intentionally went for the most ridiculous combination of variables for my own release as it’s my first that has been committed to vinyl. Our relationship to music is more romantic when we can touch it, place it on a turntable, flip the side. We chose that music, we can gaze at the art. It’s not a poorly-indexed torrent folder on your clicky hard drive. Not that I don’t have plenty of that as well!

Your onstage presence is incredibly powerful and super inspiring as a fellow lady! What are some tips you could give performers on increasing their confidence on stage?

Thank you so much! I feel so immersed in my repertoire that my main focus is communicating it to the audience rather than tapping into fear - which is a shame because there’s something electrifying about channeling fear into adrenaline on stage – which is my tip. I’ll definitely be channeling the fear at my EP launch, I’ve got a lot of new music to debut!

What do you prefer - writing/recording or playing music live? Are there aspects of both that you particularly love or loathe?

It’s all wonderful, but I feel more anxiety in the writing process and impatience in the recording process - performing live is a space where I am forced to be present and 10/10 the whole time, which is exciting for me.

What do you have planned for the rest of the year?

I have a string of shows in the works for the second half of the year, I’m shooting a sequel video to Johnny, and getting stuck into my next record. Maybe a blue sparkly heart this time!

Tanzer launches Four Love Songs by Tanzer at The Toff in Town on Saturday 28 May.

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