Tash Sultana talks gender fluidity and our generation accepting diveristy Tash Sultana is one of Australia’s fastest rising musicians having taught herself the guitar from the age of three and being known as a ‘one man band,’ using guitars, a harmonica and even infusing beatboxing into her live shows. The Aware Project was lucky enough to chat with Tash about some of the meanings behind her lyrics, gender fluidity and our generations role in accepting diversity.
Aware: You started playing when you were 3?
Tash: Yeah I did, I just used to gravitate towards instruments when I was a little kid, like just things in the shape of an instrument or whatever.
Aware: How old are you now?
Tash: I’m 20, so I’m still a child. So I started when I was three, my grandfather gave me a guitar and I’ve played the guitar every single day since that day.
Aware: Is your full name actually Tash Sultana?
Tash: Yeah, It’s Natasha. Natasha Sultana
Aware: What’s your background?
Tash: I’m half Australian, half Maltese.
Aware: Has that ever influenced your life at all, the fact that you’re half Australian and half Maltese?
Tash: Being from Melbourne, no, because it’s very culturally diverse. I’ve never experienced anything racist towards me, which is wonderful. I frequently go to Malta, to see my family. It’s nice to see how Maltese you actually are.
Aware: Do you go back there often?
Tash: Yeah every two years, I was there a few months ago after a 3 month stint in Europe, it was good.
Aware: That sounds awesome. Our next question is about a song of yours we really like called ‘Higher.’ Can you tell us a bit about the song and what it’s about?
Tash: I wrote that about someone making me feel like I was under what I was capable of. You stumble across people who consume the majority of your mind and your time and unless you notice, they can actually be quite manipulative of you, especially when you love that person. At the time I was in a relationship, I’ve recently got out of it, and I wrote that song about rising above and still claiming your independence within a relationship. Because you can’t be in a relationship if you’re two people dependant on one another, you need to be two people that coincide with one another.
Aware: The post you posted yesterday, about gender fluidity.
Tash: I think people took it a bit too seriously. I was being a little bit sarcastic, and I’ve just read some comments of people being like, ‘oh I can’t tell if it’s a boy or a girl’. But that doesn’t bother me because I’ve been a tomboy for the majority of my life, had a shaved head up until I was 13, wore boy’s clothes, still wear boys clothes. But yeah, who gives a shit, to be fair. Like, that is just my anatomy, that is anyone’s anatomy. Your gender is your anatomy, it’s nothing to do with who you are as a person. I think people just took it to the extreme, just like ‘be who you are as a person’, and I’m like man, I am just saying, whatever, rock on, peace and love. I got a lot of support, not that I was asking for support, but I got a lot of support.
Aware: That’s great. Our question was, has this turned into an issue that has affected you a lot? And, what do you think Australia should be doing differently around that topic?
Tash: Towards gender fluidity? Yeah, I feel like it shocks people when you go past the barriers of the norm. And I feel like it shouldn’t. But I feel like that’s been drummed into you because of the structural system that you’ve had. Like, this a boy; this is a boy’s toy. This is a girl; this is a girl’s toy. And you associate certain colours with certain gender roles and certain things with certain gender roles, and it’s kind of like ‘fuck that, what age are we in?’ And I don’t feel like it’s particularly people in our age group, it’s people that are quite a few years beyond that. I feel like our generation and the generation surrounding us, 10 years above or behind, are embracing diversity. Racial diversity, cultural diversity, sexual diversity, identity diversity, anything. And it’s just like, it’s just turning tables of evolution.
Aware: And you think that our generation is doing a good job of doing that?
Tash: Yeah, I do. I feel like in this generation if you have a problem with stuff, you are the one that is shunned instead of the person that is that way being shunned.
Aware: Which is great, how things have changed.
Tash: Yeah it’s more of a stand-up era that we’re entering into, because we’ve just seen too much shit.
Aware: Have you ever been at a point where you’ve just doubted yourself and your music, and if so, what’s helped you get past this, and what can you say to other musicians or just anyone who’s doubting their ability to do something they love or have been around for so long like you’ve been?
Tash: When you have a column of thought that you resonate with, like ‘I should be doing this, I should be doing this,’ that’s literally your conscience and your soul telling you that you need to do it, and it’s the barrier of motivation and then taking on board what you actually think, constantly telling yourself to do. There’s times when you doubt your abilities, but I feel like that’s when you need to motivate yourself and push beyond those barriers, and get feedback. Like, sitting in your room thinking about something is just a thought, it’s not an action, it’s nothing. You don’t know what you’re capable of doing or anything until you actually do it.