The street is where the phenomenon of Tash Sultana was fostered. In a documentary about buskers in her city, waves of daydream surfer sounds wash over a busy Melbourne street as a public train rolls to a stop behind her small frame as she tweaks instruments and taps pedals. The electric charge of her wizardry is palpable. Her loop pedals are already swollen with melody when she puts her lips to the mic, finally spilling hypnotic song into its metal net. Pedestrians stop. A few sit on stone steps in front of the station, then a few more. Soon, there are dozens. The street has become her island.
Tash describes her music as "alternative-roots-reggae-folk. Ish." Her sound would easily be at home in a beach house by the sea, but judging by the numbers of her now sold-out stadium shows, it doesn't discriminate. Over the course of a few years, the emerging singer-songwriter's audience has tipped from these dozens on the street into the thousands. She is the kind of musician who's work is meant to be experienced live. When asked if she was trained, she answers "I didn't study music. [My teachers in school and I] had a bit of a rivalry. I felt like I could just learn by myself and I do. I have been playing music since I was 3," she tells the camera, "my grandfather gave me a guitar and I just started from there."
Somehow, this feels logical. The world she enters when playing is private, blooms outward from an intimate space it feels her audience has to be invited into. In her live set last October for Rolling Stone, half of what keeps you watching is how much fun she's having all on her own, "as if laughing at an inside joke no one else can hear," the Stone story notes. It's hard to imagine most high school music teachers could meaningfully affect that space.
According to Spotify, Tash's one-girl band and her fans could now fill Wembley Stadium (capacity, 90 thousand) for 118 nights straight.
She answers: "Wow."
We say, one thing is clear here: Tash Sultana knows how to enchant.