Tash Sultana Talks Playing Every Instrument on Debut Album 'Flow State' & Largest Tour to Date
The Australian musician will play her largest headlining tour this fall in support of her new album, 'Flow State.'
Tash Sultana’s debut album Flow State is due out on Friday (Aug. 31) in which the Australian singer-songwriter is responsible for every note on the 62-minute album. Sultana plays every instrument on the genre-sprawling LP, explaining to Billboard, “Because I can.”
“My goal and my focus for that album and everything that I’ve done in the past is that I want to see how far I can go just on my own,” Sultana tells Billboard of the album that was “done, dusted and delivered in June.”
Sultana began recording the album in December of 2017 while on tour, and what was meant to be ten tracks became 13 over the course of completing it. Flow State is being released through Sultana’s own record label, Lonely Lands Records, and includes the advance tracks “Salvation,” “Harvest Love” and the most recently released “Free Mind.”
“Everything that I recorded before, I pretty much put it in the bin and did it all again towards the end, ripped everything apart, did it all again," Sultana says. "But I’m pretty fucking stoked... if I could go back, I’d do things differently, but that is what you’re going to say as an artist every single fucking time, isn’t it?”
Flow State is powered greatly by the artist's musicianship, showcasing her prowess for the twenty instruments she’s learned to play -- including the guitar, which she picked up at the age of three. From brass to bass, the debut album defies genres in an expansive and entirely individual collection of tracks.
“I like so many different instruments and so many types of styles that I just thought that, 'I’m going to have a bit of that, a little bit of that,'” Sultana says. “I didn’t go in [to the studio] and go, 'Let me write a fucking soul album.' I walked in there and then walked out with this fucking beast.”
Often referred to as a one-person band, Sultana has garnered a wealth of attention for loop pedal-heavy live sets. The now 23-year-old started out busking on the streets of Melbourne and has since sold out venues across the world with her entirely solo performances. Following a 2016 video of Sultana’s song “Jungle,” the artist racked up a million views in five days with her live bedroom recording.
“I want to see how far I can take my live show and everything just by myself,” Sultana says.
“I wanted to see how far I could get this shit. I took it from cafes and people’s backyards to busking on the street to pubs to clubs to fucking theaters and now to arenas and the biggest festivals in the world. It’s really blowing my mind,” Sultana tells Billboard.
So far in 2018, Sultana has played major an impressive array of North American festivals, including San Francisco’s Outside Lands, Montreal’s Osheaga Festival, Chicago’s Lollapalooza and Southern California’s Coachella. “There was probably half of a major city in Coachella, just at that festival,” Sultana says. “It blew my mind. It was like its own land. It was sick though.”
The massive crowds aren’t something that intimidate Sultana who spends entire sets alone on stage. Surrounded by instruments, Sultana lays down a carpet and places significant items around the intimate set up. “I create a little shrine on the stage. There’s a carpet and behind me there’s a mantle of stuff set up. I’ve got some crystals up there and some light and some things that are meaningful to me,” Sultana says. “It is keeping it a lounge room vibe, not like this stale stage environment.”
This fall, Sultana will embark on her biggest headlining tour to date, which includes dates in Germany, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy and more. In November, Sultana will return to North America with stops at Terminal 5 in New York and the Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles, to reintroduce fans to songs they may or may not have already heard from the debut album.
“You can easily go out and replicate your studio record back on the stage and play the songs for the same amount of time, exactly the same, sing it the same,” Sultana says. "But for me, that’s not the point."
“I would say that I am a live artist -- the studio is something that I have to do because that is how you market yourself. It is a different art,” Sultana continues. “When I do that crossover to live I change it up because I don’t want play it like I played it in the studio. I want it to have life. It has to have life. It needs to be born somewhere and that’s the stage.”
You can find more information on Flow State and the upcoming Flow State tour here.