Unarguably the biggest artist to come out of the unearthed depths of Australia this year is the ever talented Tash Sultana, delivering her dynamic powerhouse style to the shores of Port Macquarie for FOTSUN. Tash caught up with Focus for an exclusive interview, whilst relaxing in a bath pre-gig in Tasmania …
Most of us are familiar with your artistry so far, from your street performances to your bedroom recordings and the like. Tell us about life before all the hype…
I was pretty much doing the exact same things as I’m doing now. I always knew that this was the path I would follow – there was no question; it’s just what my life was. I’ve been playing music for my whole life, playing shows since I was 14. I used to sneak into venues with a fake ID, play shows, and then leave and go to school the next day.
When I finished school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I started busking. I started to pick up some traction and then thought, I’m just going to film my live jams in my room and put them online – and they just went nuts!
There are a lot of elements to your music; obviously you’re talented across a wide range of instruments. When did the pieces start falling together for your compositions and layering?
It’s been a really long transition of performances and different rigs; I never had my mind set on a specific sound or specific way that I wanted to play – it was just how it happened. It kind of unfolded with my journey; I’d be inspired by different things and go and search for that sound and apply it to my music. I listen to lots of different genres. I wouldn’t class my music as a specific genre, it is whatever it is. I started off playing just acoustically and then started looping and playing around with effects. My pedal board is now 29 kg, and I carry a lot of baggage!
When it comes to your lyrics, what inspires you?
Oh, everything! More internal stuff, more of my internal perception, projection, feeling, a little bit of heartbreak in there – only recently though, ‘cause I didn’t think I was empathetic until recently. But it’s good; I can write an album about that.
When it comes to music, who is your muse?
I love Pink Floyd and I love Fleetwood Mac, I love Jimi Hendrix and I love Jeff Buckley, Matt Corby, and Erykah Badu.
I heard a podcast the other day where you stated that initially you didn’t actually like your voice …
I still can’t listen to it. I like the way I feel when I sing, but I can’t actually listen to my voice back – I can’t listen to my songs back really. I find the audio hard, because I have to listen to them a lot. I find doing vocal takes really hard, because I don’t like singing the same thing over and over and then having to listen to it back. I don’t like to listen to the sound of my speaking voice – I don’t enjoy listening to that; I cringe actually.
Watching you grow over the last 12 months or so, how have you kept your earthly, humble and grounded nature throughout the whole time?
My dad would give me a good clip over the head if I started getting cocky. He’d say, “Pull your sh*t together!”
Another high for you this year is being nominated as triple j Unearthed Artist Of The Year; how have you taken that?
I am a little bit stoked about that – I won’t lie! I don’t really think of stuff in a competitive manner, or I don’t strive to be nominated for anything; it just kind of happened.
You’re about to head off overseas with a load of shows already sold out, but before that you’re playing our very own Festival of the Sun. What are you looking forward to about that?
Jut to play my music in the bloody sun! It’s a festival I’ve always wanted to play, so I’m stoked. A lot the guys on the bill are friends of mine, so it’s going to be a great time.
You’ve just released an EP; is there any talk of a studio album in the works?
Not for a while. I’m just going to drop feed things slowly and do it when I’m ready. This EP I’m touring ‘til June 2017; it’s massive. I will be dropping a single next year and tour that with my EP, and I’m about to drop a live album, Live at The Corner, so that’ll be sick.
Don’t miss Tash Sultana at FOTSUN.
For set times, head to fotsun.com
Live Performance Photos from Ben Houdijk