By Hans Ebert
My friend Mark in Sydney is going into the studio this week to record some of his originals, not for any other reason than just the fun of it. It’s not even taking a punt, because he has no expectations and knows that the return on his investment would be minuscule. But he’s put a makeshift band together, they’ve rehearsed, and there are no lofty ambitions. It’s purely for the love of music and returning to a recording studio after many years.
As for those who are still in the business- and it must be looked at as being a business- a very small almost niche business these days – with one being the CEO and most of the staff- the financial gains for making music remain slim pickings, which is different to Slim Pickens, the actor.
It’s been said here many times, and we’ll say it again: You make music, and then what? Other than some exposure on social media platforms to a small group of friends and family, what next, and more to the point, how more times can one afford to produce recordings that sound okay, but are not exactly gonzo anything, and with an accompanying video that doesn’t look like it was cobbled together as an after-thought? Where’s the rabbit hole, Alice, and where does it lead? And is there any magical formula for success? Not magic, but maybe filling a void?One Ed Sheeran is enough. One Harry Styles and one Katy Perry and Taylor Swift are too much. So where’s that void?
It’s probably why many are continuing to be drawn to singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist and one woman band Tash Sultana. She’s really like no one else around. She produces music that’s minimalistic, yet complicated in how she got to where she’s going.
Her’s has been a journey with steps and stops along various stations. After falling very ill when in her first band from eating a pizza spiked with magic mushrooms and needing to convalesce for months, she set out again by this time being a busker. This was in Melbourne, where she lives, and started making recordings in her bedroom using different loopers and is now touring and playing to audiences around the world. Huge audiences.Her’s has been a journey with steps and stops along various stations. After falling very ill when in her first band from eating a pizza spiked with magic mushrooms and needing to convalesce for months, she set out again by this time being a busker. This was in Melbourne, where she lives, and started making recordings in her bedroom using different loopers and is now touring and playing to audiences around the world. Huge audiences.
What makes her different and what made her journey happen? No doubt total self-belief and creating the music that she wanted to make- music that was in her head, heart and complete being. How was her music heard when so many are trying to make theirs heard amidst all the clutter and sameness out there? Being totally original is a good place to start.
Like Radiohead, like Bjork, like, Bowie, like Miles Davis, Hendrix, the Beatles and Brian Eno, she’s like Django unchained and unrestrained- free from everything that’s come before with no thought of going back to commercialise things. She’s so original one doubts she would know how to “make a hit.”
Tash Sultana simply makes music- her music, and her music has become music that has struck a chord with many of us who are looking and listening out for something and someone new. She makes videos that showcase her recording process. They’re not “music videos”. It’s about showing how she arrived from there to here. Of course, you’re not, but you feel as if you’re part of the creative process. You feel inspired and empowered to make changes and cut any fat clogging up the arteries of life.
Today, I closed down my Facebook account. “Sharing” became a chore and my real friends I can meet and talk to, face to face. It’s one less bell to answer and one less distraction on unsocial media that’s created a somewhat creepy and unhealthy addictive culture. It’s not for me.
Give me the simple pleasures of listening to Tash Sultana and painting my own pictures in my mind of where her music takes me. It’s like the Beatles or Eno or Miles or Hendrix or Dylan. There comes a time when there’s no need to spell it out. Let music be a mysterious voyage of self discovery. At least to me, this is where music has lost its soul. It’s become formulaic. And formulas are easily copied and where many lose sight of what’s truly original and which leads to more and more of the same.