BATTS shares lush cover of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’

Tanya Batt tells NME about the ‘pay what you feel’ covers project she took on to earn income during the pandemic

Tanya Batt – also known as BATTS – has shared a lush cover of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, one of the numerous paid covers she has recorded for fans during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Melbourne artist’s rendition of the Bowie classic is an acoustic cover, embellished with space samples that she had collected for her 2019 debut album ‘The Grand Tour’, which is a concept album charting the journey of NASA’s Voyager 1 probe.

Watch the video for BATTS’ ‘Space Oddity’ cover below:

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‘Space Oddity’ is one of nearly 50 covers Batt has recorded for fans on a ‘pay what you feel’ basis, with a $20 minimum price. Batt embarked on the project at the suggestion of her partner to earn some income during the pandemic, which resulted in the cancellation of her slot at South By Southwest in the US, the loss of wider touring income and also the closing of a theatre she was a casual employee of.

Batt decided on a $20 starting price for the covers, a price floor she “quickly regretted” due to the amount of time that goes into each one. “Luckily nearly everyone has paid more than that and they have definitely helped me significantly during this period with covering all the basic necessities in life. I am very grateful to everyone that has put in a request,” she told NME.

That said, Batt has stopped taking cover commissions, and is unlikely to begin again. “I go through an extreme love/hate rollercoaster with the cover project,” she said, “Probably because it is very time consuming and I haven’t had time to work on my own music and even though I’m finding a way to make the covers my own, they aren’t my choice of covers and they don’t all suit me until I’ve worked out how to change them.

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“So some days it can have a bad impact on my mental health and also make me feel like I’m absolutely rubbish at what I do, which seems dramatic and definitely has benefits too because overcoming those challenges has 100 per cent improved my skill set.”

Some of the songs Batt has covered include ‘Drive’ by The Cars and ‘Seventeen’ by onetime tourmate Sharon Van Etten. Though she was dreading to take on ‘Dig’ by Incubus, she “bloody fell in love with it” once she “‘dug in’”, she quipped.

One unexpected thing she’s learned from this covers project? “People have no concept of what is an easy or hard song [to learn and cover],” Batt remarked to NME.

“I would get emails from people being like, ‘Here is an easy song for you to cover, shouldn’t take long’ – and it would have like three time changes, a key change and ridiculous chords and melodies. I think it’s just if people know a song in and out they assume it’s simple.” Though her partner, who’s also a musician, has helped her with the covers, “I’ve definitely shed a few tears.”

In March, Batt released ‘City View’, the first song following ‘The Grand Tour’. She will soon be releasing a new song in collaboration with a US tape label, This & That Tapes.

“They emailed me because they had written a space song about an astronaut who goes to the moon and loved my debut album,” she explained, “and wondered if I would also write a space song for the other side of the tape. I ended up writing a song as the wife of the astronaut within an hour of getting the email and that’s the version on the tape.”

Batt has also made headway on her sophomore record. “I’m not inspired at all during this lock-in, but before it all occurred I’d written the best part of my second album,” she told NME. “I’m just sitting with the songs at the moment to see how they feel and hopefully I can get back in a room with my band soon.”

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