Pride Month 2020: A celebration of the non-binary artist Tash Sultana and their vibrant musical career
The Aussie musician Tash Sultana is a gifted multi-instrumentalist, capable of playing over 20 different musical instruments, from the sitar and oud to trumpet and guitars
As Pride Month 2020 winds to an end, we thought it was the perfect moment to celebrate the music and rising career of the Aussie music star Tash Sultana. The 25-year-old phenom has come a long way since their early days of busking on the streets of Melbourne, now garnering millions of views with music offerings that rapidly go viral. Music came early to their life, ever since a three-year-old Sultana was gifted their first guitar by their grandfather. Since then, Sultana has honed their musical gifts and enthralled music lovers the world over with their one-of-a-kind one-person show. The effusive praise and "virtuoso" sobriquets that Sultana is often showered with aren’t thrown around lightly. Sultana is a multi-instrumentalist (theycan play over 20 instruments at last count), equally proficient in the guitar, oud, sitar, bass, drums/percussion, pianos/keyboards/synthesizers, trumpet, saxophone, pan pipes, harmonica, and overall music production. Sultana's energetic and vibrant live shows are also truly a sight to behold as well.
Sultana identifies as a non-binary individual who prefers the "they/them/their" set of pronouns. It is an identity that is integral to their LGBTQIA++-friendly personality and also adds a certain mystique to the music they create. In an interview with Triple J before their career took off into the stratosphere, Sultana gave fans a peek into their inherent genius. “I developed my sound and am forever developing my sound by being inspired by different aspects of my life and compiling it together with knowledge of sound and different instruments. Creating music has no limitation,” they revealed.
Despite their prodigious talents, a 21-year-old Sultana could still be found busking on Melbourne streets as early as 2016. This was before Sultana broke out onto the global scene, when their incredible video for ‘Jungle’ took the world by storm. The viral clip now has over 75 million views on YouTube alone.
“I didn’t know what else to do with myself apart from getting creative. A lot of us go through that type of stuff and you have to learn to let it go and move in a different direction,” reveals Sultana whose turbulent past with toxic relationships and drug abuse inspired much of the material for their first few songs. Described as a product of heartbreak, 'Jungle' was described as “a division between my heart and my head. I was at my wits' end and just turned the music up, had a jam and that song came out."
This, along with their following singles, ‘Notion’ and ‘Gemini’, soon became the most played songs on the Australian radio station Triple J’s ‘Unearthed’ show and 3FM in the Netherlands. These tracks were released on Sultana's first EP titled ‘Notion’ after they signed their first record deal with the New York-based Mom + Pop Music. The EP is a testament to Sultana’s powerhouse abilities as every track oozes mastery with an inimitable style and energy that is entirely their own. They also released an instrumental-only version of the EP soon after.
Sultana then embarked on a whirlwind tour of sold-out shows the world over and brought their music to a larger, rabid audience that couldn’t get enough of the multi-talented musician. Their solo performances baffled spellbound viewers, who loved the incredible amount of energy and talent that they put on display. But the shows across the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and North America soon took a toll on their health. Sultana promptly checked into a health lodge to recuperate and rejuvenate, with wellness being their self-chosen mantra to maintain their incredible musical talents.
With music, Sultana found a more cathartic and ideal way to let go of the things that held them back and hopes that listeners who wrestle with similar demons may find similar strength in their music. This altruism was further extended after Sultana became the ambassador for BeyondBlue, an Australian mental health organization that they resonate with.
In late 2017, Sultana released the gorgeously funky and lushly psychedelic single ‘Mystik’, giving us a taste of their highly-anticipated debut full-length album. Titled ‘Flow State’, the album released in 2018 and is an incredible showcase of music that is flush with both intricacy and maturity. It was also an incredibly astounding feat for someone who was aged just 22.
2019 saw Sultana perform for a growing global audience that was drawn to their infectiously beautiful music and took some downtime to work on their second album as well. They also collaborated with singer Matt Corby and producer Dann Hume on the song ‘Talk It Out’, with Sultana finding a creative compatriot in Corby. As the year drew to a close, Sultana announced that one chapter of their musical career was drawing to a close. They revealed that their solo-only career was being wrapped up with a few last shows, hinting at a different musical trajectory - they were in the process of assembling a band of like-minded and complementary musicians.
This was also the year that Sultana and their longtime partner Jaimie got engaged, breaking the news on Instagram. The couple got to take a much-needed break from the constant hustle and bustle of life, as they escaped to the Maldives earlier this year to celebrate their engagement. They seemed to be among the lucky few who made some good memories in 2020, as they returned to Australia just a few days before coronavirus quarantine and isolation restrictions were imposed. Suffice it to say, the Covid-19 pandemic brought a grinding halt to Sultana’s excruciating tour schedule.
Sultana is currently working on their second album ‘Terra Firma’, slated to release sometime this year. The first single ‘Pretty Lady,’ is a track reworked from their busking days and sees them collaborating with Corby and Hume once again. They also recently released their second single ‘Greed’, adding to what is becoming Sultana’s next full-length release, which they plan to slowly polish until the end of July.
More recently Sultana gave their own spin to the song 'Through The Valley', that was featured in the initial reveal trailer for the PlayStation title, ‘The Last Of Us Part II.’ Sultana grew so enamored when they heard the song that they offered to record it for the developers of the game.
As travel restrictions have definitely given Sultana a much-deserved break, they have finally gotten the time to savor the things they love most in life. Sultana has now gotten back to tending to their garden plants and spending quality time with their dog and partner, Jaimie before they eventually return to the touring cycle and jet-set life of a star musician. Amidst the gloom of our virus-plagued times, each new day brings us closer to the completion of ‘Terra Firma’, as it is shaping up to be another incredible collection of Tash Sultana’s ethereal and sublime music.