The Sound Cafe
Ian Foster and Nancy Hynes Release Beautiful New Single/Video 'Voyager'
Songwriter Ian Foster who is based in St. Johns, Newfoundland, released a new single and music video for his song, “Voyager” featuring Nancy Hynes, on November 14th, via a livestream concert.
The single is the first taste of a new album of original songs to be released in 2021, the first since 2017’s critically acclaimed Sleeper Years.
The ethereal song is grounded by an acoustic guitar, Foster’s voice and Hynes’ effected vocal on the choruses and outro, with flourishes of strings, taiko drums and piano. It’s subject matter, though, is a little unconventional.
“I guess I’m looking to corner the market on space probe songs...” Foster jokes. “I wrote the song during a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts a few years ago. The stories of the Voyager probes is remarkable - they’re middle aged now by our standards, and ancient in terms of their tech, but they’ve travelled further into our universe than anything else human-made, and continue to teach us about ourselves. It’s a blast of perspective, and faith in what we can achieve as a species during a difficult time.”
The lyrics meditate on this idea: “Because we’re counting on you/the lens that we see through/we’re down here with the walls/you’re up there with it all.”
“I wanted to create a sense of wonder and set a certain tone from the moment the writing began, and turned to my delay and reverb pedals to set the initial mood, and then to Nancy as the ‘voice of the cosmos’ I suppose,” Foster says. “Those sounds stayed with this song through two years of playing it live and are now on the finished track.”
Foster credits a small but mighty production team that helped him achieve this: Co- Producer Mark Turner and Mix/Master Engineer Scott Hammond of The Blue Room in Kilbride. “I often work in a fair bit of isolation, which has been taken to another level this year,” Foster explained “But Mark and Scott have helped focus the vision and provided excellent perspective for me on this one.”
The animated music video that accompanies the release is the result of MusicNL’s Press On program, which was launched this spring as a response to Covid-19’s decimation of the music industry. The program provided funds to artists to develop projects that could be done while meeting public health guidelines for distancing.
“This project was perfect,” Foster notes. “It’s an animated music video - it’s people working in rooms alone, on computers! Let’s just say there were lots of Zoom meetings...”
Filmmaker and animator Andrew Winter and designer Mira Howards were the team behind the video, developing the idea from a story Foster read in the New York Times about the engineers behind Voyager, and their careers here on earth paralleled by the journey of the spacecraft through the cosmos. “These engineers, some of whom were travelling for the first time just a few States over to work on something that would travel further than any person alive,” Foster said, “And then to dedicate their life’s work to the painstaking taste of controlling and monitoring these probes, waiting for and then living through landmark discoveries that came over four decades. It’s inspiring.”
The music video follows a fictionalized engineer through his fascination with space as a young man through to old age, and the current moment where Voyager’s power is so low that it will soon lose its connection with earth and drift forever in space. The wonder lives on in subsequent generations, like the little girl at the end of the video looking to the stars. As the camera pans up, we see a quote from Carl Sagan, creator of the Golden Record, the first messages ever sent from Earth into space: “For all our failings, despite our limitations and fallibilities, we humans are capable of greatness.”
Immediately following the release of “Voyager,” Foster and Hynes are presenting something a little different for fans of their holiday shows. This would have been the third year for their Christmas tour in support of the MusicNL and ECMA Winning album 'A Week in December', but the pandemic has meant shifting the plans.
“We’re going online this year,” Hynes said. “It will be a special ‘tour’ of our holiday concerts, supported by some wonderful venues from previous tours. We wish we could be on the road, but we’ll bring Christmas from our home, St. John’s, NL, to our friends across the country.”
All Christmas tour details are available on ianfoster.ca now, including how to get tickets to the virtual event.
“Voyager” is available for purchase on Bandcamp, streaming on all major platforms, visit ianfoster.ca for all links.