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The Gloves Are Off in Our Latest ‘Behind the Rolling Stone Cover’ Chat with Tash Sultana

In the latest episode of 'Behind The Rolling Stone Cover', Tash Sultana discussed how their music has evolved from a one-person stage show and much more

‘Behind The Rolling Stone Cover’ is sponsored by Shure, affordable, durable, and exceptional-sounding microphones you can rely on. Available to watch and listen on Rolling Stone AU/NZ, and to stream on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and all major podcast platforms.

“Why do you want to fight me?!” exclaims Rolling Stone AU/NZ Editor-in-Chief Poppy Reid when Tash Sultana suggests they should don the boxing gloves in aid of Sultana’s charity I AM ME. “Corporate fighter. Let’s go,” they excitedly propose. 

For anybody not living under a rock, the last few years have had quite a bit on. But as the world navigated its way out of myriad lockdowns and everybody started to adjust to immutable changes that came with the pandemic, Sultana was doing what they do best: evolving.

Since their iconic 2021 Rolling Stone AU/NZ cover story that took readers behind the scenes of their hectic work and touring schedule, Sultana’s adapted their sound, performance, and stagecraft yet again—with new band members on stage effectively ending their long-held “one-person band” label that helped launch their unique sound in the first place.

In the latest episode of ‘Behind The Rolling Stone Cover’, sponsored by Shure, Reid sat down with Sultana to discuss their persistence to work through COVID, how their music has evolved from a one-person stage show, and how they became a minor celebrity in a retirement village (with some thanks to Sultana’s cheeky ‘Pa).

“Multi-instrumentalist” is the term Sultana uses to describe their frankly ludicrous number of skills when it comes to producing sound. And how those sounds are produced, looped, layered, recorded, and performed is something they hold very close – this is an artist in control of their output to the nth degree and more, with editing and production credits all executed under their careful hand and watchful eye.

But Sultana is quick to laugh off any suggestion that they’re special in this regard: “I’m a multi-instrumentalist, but a lot of other people also are… anyone really can be because it’s just about practice and commitment. Anyone can decide they’re going to start anything… ever. It’s just about sticking to it.”

Sultana reads as an open book, but their honest conversation with Reid revealed a layer that couldn’t be put in words on a page. They speak with a distinctly Australian insouciance but are deadly serious all at once. Their charity work, via I AM ME, is clearly a labour of love for the artist, but they don’t have time for the culture wars and armchair activists (to use their word – cowards), those who critique their perfectly inalienably right to support trans people as they transition via the important work of the charity.

If you have a problem with it, they coolly say, well, that’s your problem.

Over the course of the episode, which goes far beneath the surface and songs of this musician’s body of work and taps into the gears that are driving their brand forward, it’s clear that Sultana’s work ethic is deeply ingrained in their day-to-day. 

From being extremely disciplined in picking up a new instrument, to having to take medication to control the effects of ADHD (then eschewing said medication to embrace the chaos – “Blank slate thinking”, interjects Reid. “It’s not blank slate, it’s fuckin’ chaotic as shit,” they add), to why it doesn’t always pay to collaborate with any brand that comes along flashing its cash, it’s easy to see how fame, success, and critical acclaim haven’t blinded Sultana to what makes them tick in the first place.

Whether or not we’ll see Sultana and Reid strapping up their gloves and going for three rounds, though, only time will tell.

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