Twenty-three-year-old Australian native Tash Sultana has recently become the artist on the rise. Although, she is not new to the world of music and its elements. Music for Sultana has been much less of a hobby and rather more a way of life. When she was just three years old, she was gifted a guitar by her grandfather for Christmas and the spiral into her passion for music shot off from that moment. Since that time Sultana has taught herself over ten instruments. Including the piano, trumpet, mandolin, Arabic oud, and the drums to name a few. Projecting her talent was a must for her and not merely for fame but out of love for the art and because it was a necessity. She felt performing and playing music were her calling and that it was what she was meant to do in life. Busking on the streets of Melbourne, her hometown, with her equipment at hand was where it all began for the Australian one-person-band. Tash opens up about this in an interview with The Feed, “I was broke, just finished school and had no income at all, that’s why I started busking.”. Rain or shine, the show must go on in Sultana’s eyes. Not going to college, denied chances of applying to jobs because of looks, and living on the street are obstacles that appear as strong tides for many, but Tash proves that no matter the circumstance if you’re doing what you love you can overcome any hardships. But before busking even came into the picture, a tragic incident happened in the performers’ life. When she was just seventeen years old, Sultana had developed drug induced psychosis, a mental disorder characterized by a disconnection from reality.
This was caused by associating with the wrong people that only showered her with bad influences and behavior. In the same interview she expands by stating, “I was a complete drug addict. I took every drug apart from heroin”. The fact that Sultana was able to climb halfway out of the hole of drug addiction and has not only accepted but is able to speak of the past without shame, says a lot about the kind of person she is. The drug induced psychosis stuck with her for seven months and resulted in dropping out of school and not doing anything music related. She stopped playing music altogether for that length of time and couldn’t fully concentrate on anything. “I couldn’t go to school because I couldn’t make sense of anything in front of me” she states in a Ted Talk back in 2016.
Not making sense of reality nor knowing what was real or what wasn’t, was what consisted of the singer’s life for those few but dragging months. To take away these discomforts she turned to music therapy for clarity through her own doing. “I played and played the pain away with my passion”, adding on with ““I’m completely zoned into what I’m doing and have no focus of what’s happening around me” on how music helps her heal. This went on until she felt a complete peace of mind which then led to her posting videos on YouTube playing original songs in her living space. The song and video that escalated the Australian’s popularity was an original song called “Jungle”. A reggae filled tune with rock undertones. Two completely different genres yet Sultana is able to combine them to create a magic track. What is the secret to originality and creating one’s own sound? Simple. A loop pedal, at least for this one-gal-band. A loop pedal, or station, gives a single player the ability to record an exact replica of their instrument within a given space of time to be played back with the tap of a foot. It is a must for any unraveling musician. The loop lets one build up the sounds that are desired with any instrument or vocals along with it. “I don’t wear shoes when I perform or make a track, my feet let me have control of the pedal and I’m just used to it that way”. You can catch her at any concert covering ground with bare feet and a single large colorful rug on the stage platform in addition to high energy which never leaves you feeling empty but instead complete and satisfied wishing the show never ended.
Tash’s shows create a fun filled environment that is credited by her laid-back style and rhythmic grooves. “When I’m playing, I go within myself” she speaks in the same interview. Losing herself in the music is what fills her most with happiness and hiding the crazy faces and motions of that element is something that she never fails to show. There’s no single box to put a check on as to what specific genre Tash Sultana is considered, but her musical style is distinctive and as a whole contains segments of psychedelic rock, indie, reggae, and even a flavor of jazz. Almost every note in her songs bounces and reverberates across a room. Her influences range from classical to R&B and some artists that have influenced her musical fusion are, to name a few, legendary guitarist and singer Jimmy Hendrix and our soulful R&B sister Erykah Badu. You can hear these styles throughout her discography and more specifically on her newly released album Flow State. Flow in this context accurately describes the overall vibe of the album with each song transitioning into the next like water traveling down a river.
But what does “Flow State” really signify? In an interview filmed earlier this year back in August, Tash delivered the explanation behind the idea for the album and what the title signifies. “It was brought onto me by my natural parents and it’s a state of mind that you become when you’re fully immersed into something,you’re really passionate about and lose all sense of time and space and anything around you”. With her backstory of how she came up and that explanation, it is more then appropriate to have named her first debut album as such. Constant growth and mental strength are traits that should be developed through the example that is Tash Sultana, the epitome of resilience. A story as inspiring as hers reflects many of the struggles that we, as humans at times go through in our own lives when things get out of hand. However, it is not the end of the road for us if we merely pursue our passions and follow our calling. We too can rise above the downfalls of life.