If the name Voyager sounds familiar to a Eurofan, it might be because they participated in last year’s Australia Decides with the song “Dreamer”. They came in second there, winning the televote in the process.
However, that wasn’t their first time trying to represent Australia–they’ve submitted multiple attempts since Australia made their debut in 2015. They’ve also been around for longer than one may think, as they were founded in 1999, released seven albums, and toured all over the world.
Now, Danny Estrin, Simone Dow, Scott Kay, Ashley Doodkorte, and Alex Canion are fulfilling an ambition which caught their eye for years. EurovisionFam.com his honored to have them talk about their experiences, their hobbies, and which 1980s trends they would bring back!
–-What were your earliest memories of Eurovision? Which songs have you liked from previous contests?
Ash: “I remember heading to my friends’ house as a high school kid to watch the Contest every year – a tradition I’d keep with them and other friends year after year. We’d attempt to do pot luck trying to cook dishes from the host country each year, and we’d draw potential winners from a pool (I was rarely fortunate enough to win, but I did get to rep my ancestral Netherlands year to year!).
“Some songs that really stick in my head from previous years are SHUM by Go_A, and Hatrið Mun Sigra by Hatari… I really enjoy the tone shift you can get from some of the darker sounds and genres!”
Simone: “I’m newer to that Eurovision life, so I’m still finding new things as each day passes. However, my first brush with Eurovision was seeing Lordi back in 2006 with Voyager. We happened to be playing some shows in Europe when they were and managed to check them out. Since being sucked into this world through our involvement at Australia Decides last year, I’ve been looking back at some more acts and love SHUM by Go_A, can’t go without giving a mention to Dami Im’s “Sound of Silence” and Loreen’s “Euphoria” and for something a bit more bombastic Elnur & Samir’s “Day After Day”. ‘
Alex: “Having not grown up watching the contest, all I really knew about it was that Abba won it back in the 70s and that it seemingly turned them into global megastars. I kind of like that all my Eurovision memories are from me having participated in it! I really like Cezar’s “It’s my life” and of course Loreen’s Euphoria.”
–What previous Eurovision acts do you admire/are you inspired by?
Ash: “I always love watching Zdob și Zdub perform at Eurovision! They look like they’re having the best time on stage and always lean into the fun elements of their songs.”
Danny: My all time favorites are:
—What have you learned from your Australia Decides performance?
Ash: “I was really inspired by all the other participants’ dedication to the songwriting craft. To cram a full musical story into three minutes is no mean feat, and to see everyone approach it from completely different musical backgrounds was awesome and has really influenced my own approach to songwriting.”
Simone: “Like Ash mentioned, the greatest take away was really learning how to craft a 3 minute banger that not only encapsulates everything about your own band/act musically, but also takes you on a journey that you can then create a visual and theatrical experience for the fans and audience as well. It definitely influenced how we approached writing our upcoming album.”
Alex: “Australia Decides was a big learning curve in how to set up our stage movements for TV and not simply for the live audience which is who we’re used to performing for. “
Danny: “That TV is VERY different from live music and it’s a 3 minute cardio workout but FUN.”
–How have you grown over the past year?
Ash: “I’ve definitely grown more attuned to what my actual job is as the drummer in Voyager. I have a tendency to get trapped in my own little world behind that monster of a drum kit, but being involved in Australia Decides and now the Eurovision Song Contest has really helped me focus and dial my drumming in to what the other guys and girl are doing (sometimes miles away on those bigger stages!).”
Simone: “In every way, which has been going on for the last few years now due to my health complications and also since being involved with awesome opportunities like Australia Decides. It’s really forced me to focus on myself and listen to my body so I can continue to do all these crazy and wonderful things at a capacity I can manage. Musically, again, working on 3 minute songs does wonders for your approach to songwriting. It’s forced me to really consider whether a section needs space from guitars and when to really dial them up for max impact.”
Danny: “We’re SO much better at spreadsheets now (and costumes).”
—Knowing that Promise was made specifically for Eurovision, how was the songwriting process for a Eurovision entry different from your regular songwriting process?
Ash: “From a drumming perspective, I often just go where my limbs take me. I tend to rely on what my body wants to do when we’re jamming on a song and let that form the beats and fills. For Promise there’s a little of that, but I had to engage the brain a little more to think about where the space for the drums really was in a song that needs to be a lean, mean Eurovision machine! I don’t think there was a hit anywhere in the song that I didn’t labour over and try about three different ways.”
Simone: “Absolutely. As soon as we all heard the intro idea Danny had, we knew we wanted this to build and build to an epic ending. We had a bit of a visual idea as much as musical, so when I say we went over this repeatedly with that fine tooth comb, I’m not exaggerating. Everything that is there has a purpose for the song. If it felt forced or uninteresting, it was scrapped. “
Danny: “Eurovision needs drama, it needs build and it needs levels, so the checklist for this was:
- Banger chorus that people can sing along to
- Lyrical message that’s personal but people can relate to
- Pullback for Verse 2 – cruise along
- Left turn and CRUSH
- Emerge from the ashes glorious victorious
- Keytar solo
- Guitar solo
- Banger finale
—What inspired Promise?
Danny: “I’m generally an optimist, but the last couple of years have been difficult for many and seeing the chaos of the world, it’s about seeing what’s around you and seeking reassurance from whatever you can find. Doesn’t have to be a person, it can be nature, a person, a beautiful song, a picture that you can derive some joy and find certainty that it’s going to be alright.
“The song has a super dark moment where that hope is crushed and you’re left down and unhappy, but in a way, like life itself, you find a way out of it and emerge on the other side. “
—If you could bring back any 1980s trend, which one would it be and why?
Ash: “The electric drum kits back in the day were so visually awesome! The technology these days is absolutely incredible and getting so close replicating an acoustic kit, but they don’t have to look like real drums! Give me those hexagonal, triangular and retro-futuristic looking pads any day!”
Simone: “I do miss the overall aesthetics of the 80’s. Buildings and cars were so much edgier and cooler looking. Who could forget shoulder pads, “bigger is better” hair dos, and power suits too. We could be here all day!”
Danny: “More houndstooth.”
–What was the making of your music video like?
Ash: “A Voyager video shoot is always a bit of a crazy experience, and this was no different! The other-worldliness of setting up my drums on a pink salt lake is something I’ll never forget, and you can’t be mad about a bus call at 4am when you get to traipse up to Nature’s Window to shoot a guitar and keytar solo in the glorious Western Australian sunrise!”
Simone: “One of the most unforgettable experiences I’ll ever have. We honestly can’t thank Tourism WA enough for helping us imagine the dream of playing epic Keytar and guitar solos at Nature’s Window as the sun rises. The pink salt lake at Hutt Lagoon was like being on an isolated Alien planet. It was so beautiful and surreal. Truly never done anything like that before!”
Danny: “So much fun, we got to explore places of Western Australia we’d never seen before – absolutely magical!”
—(to Danny): How do you combine your day job as a lawyer with that of a singer-songwriter?
Danny: “Law – left brain ON. Music – Right brain ON. 24 hours in a day, that’s enough to do ALL THE THINGS!”
—How do your colleagues support you on your musical journey?
Simone: “I’m in a bit of a unique situation where my colleagues are the reason I can continue my musical journey with my health condition, so to say they are a massive support system for me while travelling and doing the music thing feels like an understatement. We are honestly more like family than colleagues, and share a very unique and strong bond with one another. I certainly wouldn’t want to be on this journey with anyone other than them. “
Danny: “They’re so into it and so incredibly supportive that it’s just a joy – they made me a Danny keytar CAKE! Plus they’re kind used to me going away on tour so this is similar!”
—(to Simone): How did you get into playing a seven-string guitar? What was the learning curve like?
Simone: “We started writing a few songs on the 6 string with the low E dropped to B, so it was essentially a 7 string with the E string missing. As we were enjoying getting a bit lower with tuning, I decided to bite the bullet and grab a 7 string guitar. It was strange at first, but after playing in it for about a week, it felt like home. Scott followed me soon after and the rest is history. Now a 6 string feels awkward and weird to me.”
—(to Ashley): If you could describe your song as a beer, what would it be and why? (what sensations, for example)?
Ash: “It’d be like a nice bottle of Gueuze – a complex blend of well-aged and freshly brewed ale, crafted naturally from local ingredients. On first sip you don’t really know what you’re drinking… it’s delicious, it’s beer, but it’s not like any beer you’ve ever had. The combination of sweet, sour, bitter, and effervescent could very easily not work together, but here it’s all balanced in a way that keeps you coming back for glass after glass. Once the bottle’s done you’re making sure you’re grabbing another because that flavour’s going to be stuck in your head for a good long while!”
—-How do your passions for music and craft beer work together? How do they differ?
Ash: “Music has taken me around the world, and when there’s time on the road I can often be found on Google Maps looking to see if there’s a couple of crafty taps or a local brewery nearby to check out. Sometimes the legends who come to the shows drop off a few of their favourite local brews to try!
“Sometimes, the two come together and a more tangible way; last year we got to team up with the fine folk at Bright Tank Brewing and Lumber Punks to release Dreamer In The Sky – a very delicious and sneakily drinkable juicy pale ale. (I am a bit of a home brewing buff, I’ve recipes for a beer to accompany every Voyager album that I’d like to get cracking on once I get back from Eurovision!)
–Since Eurovisionfam.com is a website with content made by non-European fans, what would you like to say to them?
Ash: “Thank you so much for all your support and for checking out Promise! Can’t wait to bring it to the biggest stage of all in May! And you know, this year you can vote no matter where in the world you are! :D”
Simone: “Thank you for checking us out and taking an interest in our song “Promise”. We truly cannot wait to get up on that stage and put on a killer performance for you all. And don’t forget to send some cheeky votes our way ;)”