In amongst the hustle and bustle of every major city in the country, a special breed of artist resides shoulder to shoulder with commonfolk, seemingly invisible to those rushing frantically metres in front of them. This particular set of artists offers some of the most honest craft in the entire music industry. However, whilst the nature of busking is heartfelt and unforgiving in its substance, it’s sadly often overlooked.

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Shadow Electric. Photo by Greg Holland

Like many before her, including the likes of folk duo The Pierce Brothers and funky jazz outfit Better Than The Wizards, Melbourne’s Tash Sultana has carved her name on the streets of Australia’s music capital, humming, strumming and performing to passers-by for nothing more than a slight, albeit, awkward nod of approval from her accidental audience. Now, in 2016, the merciless slog on the CBD pavement is paying dividends for the multifaceted performer.

With years of busking experience under her belt, Tash Sultana has been deservingly propelled into the spotlight through nothing more than her astonishing ‘til-it-feels-good’ work ethic. Although the songwriter flirted with group projects earlier in her youth, Tash has evidently prospered as a solo artist, “I used to be in a band when I was younger, but I’ve always played solo and taught myself heaps of different instruments” she mentions. From laying down intrinsic guitar loops, to writing rudimentary drum patterns and vocal hooks, Sultana has coined her own style through shear determination and repetition, and champions her output thanks to her raw songwriting process -“I just jam. Jam it til it feels right and sounds right, or until the neighbours come knocking on the door telling me to shut the fuck up”. That being the case, it comes as no surprise that her influences come from a wide range of sources, “I love the sounds of Erykah Badu, Fat Freddie’s Drop, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, and Bon IverTash states.

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Newtown Social Club. Photo by Teresa Pham

The demand for the songwriter is well and truly increasing abroad, and with sold out shows across three continents, there’s no sign of slowing down. However, there are some downsides to such frantic venue hopping, namely the obvious back-to-back schedules and travel, but also, the self-inflicted and unexpected – “Lack of sleep, too many beers, and when the airline loses your equipment before a sold out European tour” are the main sucker punches, she describes. Nevertheless, eclipsing the misdemeanours are memories that will stay with the artists for a long-time– “You get to travel the world and meet really cool people and I have gotten to play at venues where we don’t even speak the same language.” She adds, “ The most memorable moments are the fact that every show has been completely diverse and sold out around the world”. No mean feat for an artist with only a single EP to her name.

It’s no surprise that one of Tash’s most memorable live music moments comes from witnessing one of the world’s most iconic buskers in Newton Faulkner at the age of 14, playing the Palais right here in Melbourne. Even though the world has provided Tash Sultana with a multitude of musical experiences, there’s nothing like home, and in paying homage to the Victorian music landscape, she declares “It’s an amazing community; You can see a sick band on any night of the week”.

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Listen Out, Brisbane 2016. Photo by Jordan Cooper

So now, after months of relentless overseas travel, Tash has her sights on an Australian festival season, and with no less than eight different festival appearances penned, on top of dozens of headline dates, the momentum is only building. On the immediate radar is the sold out Music Victoria Awards afterpartyalongside a handful of regional dates in NSW. It’s quite obvious nowhere is off limits for the soloist, who in the last 12 months has played on stages varying from dimly lit corner pub stages to full-fledged festival setups – a true testament to her work ethic. And if that wasn’t enough, the workaholic has launched her very own record label Lonely Lands Records with the aim to “Independently release my music on a worldwide platform”. 

It goes without saying, Australia is about to hear a lot more from Tash Sultana.

The Age Music Victoria Awards 2016
THE AFTER PARTY 
170 Russell
16 November 2016
Doors 8.30PM

Melbourne Ska Orchestra
Camp Cope
Tash Sultana

Plus The EG All-Stars joined by guest singers
Paul Dempsey
Gareth Liddiard (The Drones)
Kylie Auldist
Pierce Brothers
REMI
Alex Lahey
Gawurra
Freya Josephine Hollick

Voting is live on The Age website between 7 October to 4 November 2016.
More info via musicvictoria.com.au

 

*Feature image by Teresa Pham