Tania Doko on all things creativity, travel, fashion and passion
Tania Doko’s lyrics are some of the most sung in the country, and her blunt blonde bob was one of the 90s’ most screened on TV. It’s been two decades since her duo, Bachelor Girl, released their hit single, ‘Buses and Trains’, but it’s still on multiple ‘most played songs’ lists.
She’s written lyrics and songs for household names, and travelled the world performing with Bachelor Girl, and most recently, Tania competed to represent Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest.
She’s a hardworking, passionate and creative woman after my own heart, and she’s proud of the journey she’s been on for the last twenty years. I recently worked with Tania and designed a one-shouldered sequinned jumpsuit for her Melbourne and Sydney gigs, and she looked and sounded incredible on stage. Tania is another one of my ‘muses’ and a woman I admire, and she’s not slowing down any time soon either…
This month marks 21 years since the release of Bachelor Girls’ ‘Buses and Trains’ single, and it’s still on Australia’s ‘most played songs’ list. Congratulations! What do you feel when you hear it?
Thank you! It’s a mixed bag of lollies for me, but mostly I feel proud. We got to travel the world because of this massive debut for the band. James and I had a 12 year hiatus, reuniting in 2017, so performing it feels fresh again. Funnily enough, my spirit hasn’t really changed all that much as a person since the song’s release in the late 90s. I’m really the same girl surviving those ‘road accidents’, and the better for it. Only now, the landscape is mostly Sweden, navigating a completely new hemisphere, responsibilities and the modern day life juggle.
You’ve worked with INXS, Kate Ceberano and Darren Hayes. What was that like?
They are the cream of the crop in Oz and the world really. They’re uber professional and gifted go-getters. We did the Tim Rice Musical Spectacular with Kate Ceberano and INXS (the first gigs they did post-Michael’s passing), and sang lead with INXS – pinching myself – and the guys were incredibly down to earth and fun. Working with Kate felt like working with a sister; I learnt so much from her, and we had a hoot of a time together. My electro-rock band, She Said Yes, supported Darren in 2007, and he was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
You studied a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Psychology and went on to work in the music industry anyway. Why?
Music-making is my greatest calling, but I love creating thinking-man’s pop, so psychology and the study of human behaviour influences so much of what I create. I used to be a youth worker for the organizations Whitelion and Reach, and I’m always looking for ways music can make a difference, or how my influence, voice or words can somehow make someone feel or love a little harder.
You’ve collaborated with The Veronicas, Tina Arena, Jessica Mauboy and Delta Goodrem, among others. What’s it like writing songs for household names?
It’s very gratifying. You don’t always know where a song will land, but when it’s released by an artist, friend or peer you respect, you know your baby has found the right home.
You recently performed in Eurovision’s Australia Decides segment. What was that like?
A wild ride! The three F’s; fast (because I was last to get the call to be involved as two of my songs were in the top 20 songs chosen), furious, fun. Probably the most unforgettable take-always for me were the connections and friendships formed. George Sheppard from Sheppard is over in Stockholm right now writing songs with me and other great Swedes. Ella Hooper is now a soul sister, and catching up with Kate and Electric Fields at the APRA awards was like seeing family again. We’ll always share a bond for the ones who were in the first go at ‘Australia deciding’, and didn’t Kate do us proud in Tel Aviv?! Wow.
You’re an artist, a songwriter, one half of Bachelor Girl, a youth worker, a podcaster, a mentor and a keynote speaker. How do you find balance?
Truth is – it’s crazy at times and I don’t have it altogether! But I do love wearing different hats as I do get a little bored otherwise. I’m trying to focus on one thing at a time in any given moment/phase, but since becoming a mother my focus is to some extent compromised. I wouldn’t change it for the world of course. Leo is fuel for me now. Besides, being in my own bubble and not caring for people or the world around me – is no longer an option. I need good reasons to do what I do, and now it’s about making a living with job satisfaction and leaving behind something worthy whenever possible.
What does a week in your shoes look like?
Early mornings and from late afternoon, it’s all Leo, my four-year-old, and being a cook for my Swedish boys! Sandwiched in between that I’m either doing a song writing session for an outside artist, vocal coaching, music mentor/workshopping, gigging in Oz or Sweden, working with James on BG material, either in Melbourne or from Stockholm, or recording our podcast ‘Swede As’. My life is very much split between two hemispheres these days.
What one essential fashion piece should every woman own?
A rockin’, well-shaped black blazer jacket in a timeless fabric or leather.
What was it like working with Julie?
Julie is a gem! What an eye, what a creator, what an upbeat (as opposed to uptight) designer. So refreshing, classy, generous, classic and en point. Shall I go on?
You have to pack a bag and you don’t know where you’re going. What three essential items do you pack?
The ole’ smart phone is obvious, I don’t leave home without it. It’s the enemy I’m addicted to, but when I’m on holiday in Bali, it gets left in the hotel room each day! Paw paw cream, for lips, glow and insect bites (fashion and function achieved here). And that one must-have blazer/jacket. Living in both Melbourne and Stockholm, leaving home without a jacket is like leaving a limb behind.