Voyager: “Dreamer is a metal song disguised as a pop song, and a pop song disguised as a metal song.”

Whatever you think you know about genre norms… think again! Voyager have dipped their toes in all of them. The vibrant quintet, from Perth, Western Australia succeed in choreographing an intricate dance between metal and pop; employ a keytar on stage, and bring forward a positive, uplifting feeling to their music. They made the shortlist for Australia Decides in 2020, but this year is their time to shine.

Voyager’s drummer Ash Doodkorte, a long time Eurovision fan, spoke with ESC Bubble about the band’s hook-laden, synth-fantasy ‘Dreamer’.

Ash, Voyager narrowly missed out on Australia Decides 2020, how excited are you to finally be in the line-up?

Stupendously excited – this is definitely something we’ve been dreaming about and have been working hard to try and make happen for years! We’d been pushing this before Australia even had any kind of slot in Eurovision, and every year since 2015 we’ve been submitting songs and stoking our little #voyagerforeurovision hashtag. To finally be involved in the competition at this level is absolutely wild!

What has the reaction been like from your fanbase being involved in Eurovision?

Our fans were really the ones who set this whole thing in motion – we’ve heard time and time again on tour that we really should be applying for the ESC. It’s been great that everyone’s come along for the ride too; writing a song for Eurovision is very different to writing a song just for ourselves, and so far everyone has been super digging the new tune.

Tell us about ‘Dreamer’, then.

Dreamer is an upbeat, stompy, dance-synth-metalpop banger with some funky riffs and nice heavy drops to which you can nod your head and tap your toes. It’s a metal song disguised as a pop song, and a pop song disguised as a metal song. It started off as a pure dance track that we’ve been revising and tweaking for a while now, and we really threw everything we could possibly fit into three minutes into this one. It’s an absolute joy to play; it has all the good things we drummers love – groove, big hits, syncopated time.

Any genre is fair game. Voyager’s musical style is described as: ‘Epic Electro Progressive Power Pop Metal’. Err, discuss.

What can I say – the five of us in Voyager all have very different musical tastes and backgrounds and we’re somehow able to harness that and coalesce it all into a sound that seems cohesive and a bit unique. To describe ourselves just as a metal band doesn’t quite tell the full story, though we do have a good, heavy, ch0nky edge to our sounds. We do write songs that sound like pop songs, but there’s a lot going on underneath that that keeps things interesting. I don’t know… we just write what we want to write and with each album I think that just means we need to add another adjective to our genre!

I get Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, The Galvatrons even… Who’ve been your mentors/inspirations?

I personally love the Frank Zappa comparison! And The Galvatrons are awesome, I reckon they’d be perfect for Eurovision!

Each of us would say something different here, but some common threads would be artists like Type O Negative and Devin Townsend – they’re seen as heavy artists but they know how to craft a mood, a sound, an aesthetic that anyone can appreciate regardless of your music tastes.

The visual material that accompanies your musical projects is always bright and colourful, what can we expect from your staging, outfits, lighting, etc…?

More of the same, but dialled up as many notches as the stage permits! We want lights everywhere, video elements in time to the song, synchronised guitar-spin-stomps, a keytar that shoots lasers or fire or smoke or something crazy. Can we get [lead singer] Danny to fly at some point? All bets are off, we want to go as wild as we can!

You guys might be new to some of us, but you formed well over 20 years ago… what has that ‘voyage’ been like? How has your sound evolved?

The voyage from our humble, overblown, power metal beginnings to the synth-drenched, pop-prog-metal bangers of today has been a very storied, chaotic, non-linear one. You can hear the difference in each of the seven albums we’ve made over that time (some of the band are in the studio now, tracking some parts for album number eight!).

We’ve gone from a band that wrote for ourselves, to one that writes for the song – and I think that’s a really good place to end up. You can make a song whatever you want… if you want six minutes of guitar and keytar solos, you can do that any time. But it takes time to sit back and listen to, and work with, what the song wants to be. Once you get that, the music is more focused, direct, urgent – it makes you want to nod your head and tap your feet!

How deep does your appreciation for Eurovision go?

Coming from a Dutch family, I’ve had Eurovision on my radar my entire life. But it wasn’t until high school that I really started to get into the spectacle, the production, the performers, the songs… the wardrobe!

Every year, I’m at some sort of Eurovision party, whether it be with my Voyager crew, my high school friends, my partner’s crossfit crew… we’re always there for the celebration. One year it fell right in the middle of a tour I was on, with some other musicians who’d never really watched it before. I ran out to grab a few drinks, and then came back to the little room we were holed up in and forced everyone to watch it with me.

What’s your favourite Eurovision song, artist or moment?

“So Lucky” by Zdob și Zdub from 2011. Maybe it’s those ludicrously tall hats, or the stand-up drummer, or the horn player who rode around the stage on a unicycle. If you haven’t seen it, then even just hearing all those things together should give you some indication of how absurdly awesome it was – I smile just thinking about it.

Are you looking to have a jam session with any of your Australia Decides colleagues?

Oh man, I hadn’t even gotten to thinking about that… I think Jude York is an awesome songwriter, would be really cool to get in a jam room with him and see what happens. I’ve also been listening to a bit of Sheldon Riley and could definitely hear some sweet, beefy, heavy drums on some of those tracks. 😉

What would you most look forward to if you win AD and get to go to Turin?

As much as I love being at home in WA, going from being a touring musician to staying at home for two and a half years straight has been a big shock to the system and something to which I still don’t think I’ve fully adapted. The very notion of getting out on to a big stage and performing for a crowd of people from all over the world – I daren’t even dream just yet.

Even just getting to feel those stage lights on my back, the rumble from a kick drum reverberating through the stage, the sweaty come-down after the show… it’s been too long.

Where can we binge more of Voyager? Are there plans to repost the Voyage Through Time livestream?

We have just set up a Tiktok account (@voyagerau) where you can see everything first – be it little snippets from the writing room or the studio, to little clips of random silliness (which might make up a greater percentage of our content than we should really admit).

Our YouTube channel is a great place to binge some Voyager! You can even find our full first lockdown online concert on there at the moment: Live from the Department of Synths and Riffs. There’s also all our music videos, studio and touring diaries, and more of the aforementioned silliness.

You definitely haven’t seen the last of A Voyage Through Time! In fact, I need to get back to working on something related to that project very soon…

Should Voyager set a course for Turin? You decide.

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Eurovision – Australia Decides 2022 airs live on SBS and SBS On Demand on Saturday 26 February (AEST).

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