Tash Sultana Is Australia's Best-Kept Secret
Not for long
Photo by Clint Peloso
Tash Sultana was born holding a Fender Stratocaster. Well, maybe not literally, but there's not denying that the Melbourne musician is something of a prodigy. She's a multi-instrumentalist—she plays 10 to be exact—who showcases her talents by mixing and layering her tracks live on stage. "[Music] is in my blood," she says. "It's the only thing I know." She's been Australia's best-kept secret for some time, but is now, finally, headed to the U.S. for a sold-out headlining tour in conjunction with her soon-to-be-released-stateside EP, Notion. America, you're in for some real badassery.
At 21, Sultana's been through hell and back. "Music," she says, "saved me from a really dark road." Previous interviews reveal her experience with a nine-month drug-induced psychosis episode that stripped her of her drive to make and play music—or do much of anything else. Then, one day, she picked up her guitar and started playing. You could say she played the pain away.
As modern legend has it, she played as many open mics as she could and even tried her hand at busking. It wasn't until she started uploading videos to YouTube, though, that a career started to form. "One day, when I realized that I'd never used my GoPro before, I decided to film a live jam," Sultana says. She uploaded it, and the rest is viral history. Her videos have since pulled in millions of views. "It's gone from there," she says.
Notion, Sultana's debut EP, boasts six tracks, each floating across many genres, making it difficult to define, except in the way it makes the listener feel: great. "Jungle," the lead single, is remarkable; it bounces like an island jam, rocks like the blues, emotes like soul, and decorates the air with one particular spoken word verse whose tension is released in a euphoric chorus. Sultana is a powerhouse. Hands down. In a way, music has freed her, but she's the first to admit she hasn't discovered herself through it. "It’s the only thing I know," she repeats. "I have to discover myself outside of performing." Which will, inevitably, provide material for a full-blown LP. Don't expect one to come soon, though. Sultana says "not yet" to whether we can expect an album this year, which, hey, is no big deal. There's too much pressure on musicians these days to release music at a certain pace. Sultana is about feeling the moment. When the time is right, similar to when she started YouTubing, the album will drop. Just know that her guitar won't be getting put down anytime soon.
Notion EP will be available February 17.