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Tash Sultana on Their New Era of Music: ‘I’m Much Happier Than I Was Before’

Tash Sultana discussed friendships, being a genuine one-person band, and their upcoming EP backstage at the 2023 Shure Rolling Stone Australia Awards


Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin have a lot to answer for. After their high-profile divorce hurtled the term “conscious uncoupling” into the mainstream, therapy-speak has surreptitiously threatened to overcome our basic human relationships.

Earlier this year, a video blew up on TikTok, showing a clinical psychologist explaining how to break up with a friend. “I’ve treasured our season of friendship but we’re moving in different directions in life. I don’t have the capacity to invest in our friendship any longer,” Dr. Arianna Brandolini told viewers to say to the friend they no longer wanted around.

Imagine being on the receiving end of that sentence: years of friendship and memories extinguished with the sort of blunt statement you’d expect during a rejection for a job at a soulless corporation.

Thankfully for Tash Sultana’s friends (or former friends), they would never resort to such mollycoddling. During a discussion backstage at the 2023 Shure Rolling Stone Australia Awards, which were held in Sydney last month, the multi-instrumentalist revealed an unyielding attitude that has helped them survive and thrive in a cutthroat industry.

After Rolling Stone AU/NZ Editor-in-Chief Poppy Reid asked what Sultana’s immediate red flags were, they listed “disrespect and talking.”

“As soon as I hear that someone has uttered gossip, I’m fucking out,” they elaborated. “I literally just go full ghost and you’ll never hear from me again.

“I’m a good friend but I’m very hard to win over because I don’t need heaps of friends, I don’t have heaps of friends. I would say that I’m a friendly, nice person and I like to give everybody the benefit of the doubt.”

It’s an act of self-preservation that’s stood Sultana in good stead as they enter a new era of music. “I just stopped caring,” they explained simply. “I just have a different self-perspective and because of that I’m writing really different music.”

Sultana began 2023 with their new single “James Dean”, a suitably powerful reckoning with self-reflection and transformation that urges listeners to understand who their true friends are in life.

For Sultana, they’ve already achieved that goal. “When you live a life like I do, people come and go,” they conceded. “My friends – my true friends – have been with me since I was between the age of five and 12 years old. I still have those exact same friends. I’ve been friends with some of them for over 20 years!”

The singer-songwriter also shared their excitement about entering into this new chapter of their career. “It’s still me, I’m doing it, it’s just that I’m much happier than I was before,” they said.

You can watch Sultana’s full backstage chat above, in which they discussed being a genuine one-person band (just watch the music video for “James Dean”), why they’re deciding to release an EP instead of a full album this year, working with BJ the Chicago Kid and much more.

In other Sultana news, the musician – who won the coveted Rolling Stone Global Award after their backstage interview last month – is about to embark on an extensive 50-date international touring schedule across Europe, UK and North America. You can check out their full tour dates here.

They also released their second single of the year, “New York”, earlier this month, a track that was written about a specific experience they had in the titular city.