Tasha: on Creating Serene Yet Politically Charged Music, Standing Against Antiquated Femininity, and More

The opal club x SXSW

The music industry isn't set up for women or women of color to see themselves in it. It's easy to think that what you have is not wanted or needed but that's not true at all, says the Chicago-born double Virgo singer Tasha. In October 2018, she released her debut album called Alone at Last with seven tracks on it, each of them playing a part in creating healing, gentle album worth listening to.

Even though Tasha has never dreamt about becoming a singer, she has always known that she would like to be involved in art-making and do something creative in her life. She ended up playing music with a clear political message. The dreamy melodies of her songs are accompanied by her mellow voice, delivering the message of self-care the best way possible – with kindness and empathy. The importance of self-care in her songs is underlined by the fact that we are still living in a world full of sexism and homophobia which is tiring and hard to fight. Regardless her depiction of society, she manages to create comforting music addressing many of us. And even if it might seem like Tasha is having particular audience in mind when writing her songs, she actually has not. She tries to write music for herself which allows her to be as honest as possible.

As many women, she as well feels the constant pressure to be more feminine. But for her, society’s idea of femininity doesn’t really play a big role in her life. Nor does the traditional feminism which she perceives as very white and as a mainstream idea that she can not identify herself with. Therefore, she presents her own gender and sexuality in whatever way she wants, without having to ascribe to any traditional ideas. Womanhood should be whatever each of us want it to be for itself and no one should decide for anyone else what it means. At the same time, Tasha knows what womanhood definitely is not. It is not defined by genitalia or pronouns or femininity. And it doesn’t need to be ideologically pitted against masculinity either.

As much as she enjoys playing music and shows, Tasha also reminds us of the hard work that comes with it. The music industry is subject to all the classic elements of discrimination against women – girls are being talked down to, their opinions are not being validated and they are being over-explained to. Simply put, girls have to work more and prove themselves just because of their gender. Thank gods for women like Tasha who are giving us the strength to continue our path of learning, teaching us that it is okay to feel the way we feel and letting us know that we are not alone.

On a summary of her life, so far:

Born and raised in Chicago, and I live there now. I have two brothers. I've always been creative and done creative work and creative activities. I never really planned to be a musician but I knew I wanted to be involved in art-making. I kind-of shifted into politicized work and more community organizing, and that led to me informing my artistic practice. Eventually decided I wanted to play music and spread lots of tender, queer, black, anti-police songs all over.

On her idol:

My mom is someone who I really look up to and is really inspiring to me.

On the audience in mind:

I try to avoid having an audience in mind. I think that can make my writing dishonest. I try to push this as far away from my mind as possible and just write for me. Whichever hearts it ends up inside of is not really my choice, I have no expectations.

On her latest release:

Alone At Last came out on Father/Daughter records on October of last year. It's my real debut I feel. The title comes from my song Winter Song, which I think exemplifies this feeling of powerful healing and regenerative solitude. And the things that come out of my alone time and my rest time.

On being a kid:

I was kind of a nerd. I was outgoing but really insecure. I was a musical theater kid. It was a strong part of high school. When I was a kid I would've loved to be in Cats.

On traditional femininity and the perfect woman:

That's a weird question to me, because the perfect woman is any woman. I think the big problem is the way that “mainstream” feminism talks about what womanhood means and I don't need to decide that for myself or for anybody else. It's whatever woman-identified person wants it to be. I also don't feel like womanhood needs to be ideologically pitted against masculinity. But I know what it's not. It's not defined by genitalia or pronouns or femininity. I feel constantly pressured to be more feminine. Almost every sound guy has discriminated based on gender. The music industry is subject to all the classic elements of discrimination against women. Being talked down to, my opinions not being validated, being over-explained to.