You might say that an artist never truly works alone. From those who support them and friends and family who offer feedback, to talented creatives who lend their skills to a project, there’s often a team of folks working behind the scenes to make great art come to life.
Such is the case with Ian Foster’s latest project. In November, via a livestream concert as part of ArtsNL’s “Art in the Time of COVID” series, the local singer-songwriter released his newest single “Voyager,” an inspiring song about the Voyager space probes and having faith in science and ourselves. Featuring ethereal vocals by Foster’s partner Nancy Hynes, the song is accompanied by a touching animated music video that follows a fictionalized engineer through his fascination with space as a young man through to old age (capturing the moment where Voyager is about to lose its connection with earth) – a sense of wonder and awe which lives on in subsequent generations, as depicted by the young girl at the end of the video, looking up into the stars. “Voyager,” the first single from a new album of original songs to be released this year, was written by Foster during a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts several 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,” Foster says, crediting Hynes, co-producer Mark Turner and mix/master engineer Scott Hammond of The Blue Room in Kilbride for providing perspective and helping him put his vision into focus, achieving the song’s inspiring tone.
Like the song, the animated video was created with an all-hands-on-deck approach. It was scripted and storyboarded through Celtx (a St. John’s-based company that creates music script writing software) and brought to life by filmmaker and animator Andrew Winter and designer Mira Howards. They developed 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.
The video is a result of MusicNL’s “Press On” program, which was launched last spring as a response to the pandemic’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 social distancing – making “Voyager” the perfect fit.
“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,” Foster says.
It’s programs like “Press On” that have helped keep artists afloat during an extremely trying year, something for which Foster says he’s grateful.
“Simply put, the MusicNL Press On program made the ‘Voyager’ music video possible, with the funds going to graphic artist Mira Howards and video animator and director Andrew Winter. Animation is extremely time consuming, and it’s so important to pay artists for their time and hard work,” he says.
“The end result was even seen and remarked on by NASA engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and was nominated for a 2021 Canadian Independent Music Video Award. A positive experience all around.”