Words: Matt Innes
There is something magical about singer-songwriter Tasha Zappala.
“I think there’s a sort of magic in the mundane,” Tasha laughs, “that I think is really amazing, so I’ve been really focussed on that recently. And finding magic in the everyday as well.”
Based in Tasmania, Tasha creates what she describes as ‘superstition-steeped’ folk music, blending gypsy-folk stylings with softly spun lyrics weaving tales that take listeners through a mystic whorl of lost days and distant memories.
“I travel around quite a bit and sing folk songs about the people I meet and the places that I go,” she explains. “I do a little bit with field recordings as well; I spend a lot of time in the forest and I really love those sounds as well.”
Tasha utilises field recordings in her music, creating snapshots of a particular time and place, much like a memory, and exploring the interplay between natural and urban landscapes.
“I love phone recording and voice mails, but also traffic sounds,” Tash says.
“The way that those interact and how we are becoming more industrialised and how that starts to takeover a lot of the natural sounds, how we’re producing more sound in general – I think is really quite intense.
“I think field recordings have an incredible ability to capture a time and place, and then the way that you can shift that time, and the way environmental sounds can shift your ideas of memory as well, like sonic photographs almost.”
Tasha has been working on a new album that, despite all the odds, is due for release in mid-2020. On the new album, Tasha says she has made extensive use of field recordings to manipulate the listener’s perception of time and memory.
“Travelling and that idea of memory being shifted, the way that you can look forwards but also being looking backwards,” she says of the album’s guiding themes.
“I was doing a lot of touring still as I was writing the album so I would be writing at truck stops or before shows in carparks or in the forest. I was really committed to writing these songs wherever I was, and then of course writing in those paces there were these crazy background noises as well.”
An independent artist, Tasha is taking her place among the burgeoning set of ‘bedroom producers’ working outside the bounds of mainstream recording avenues in favour of grassroots methods that allow them ultimate creative control.
“I really love the DIY approach,” Tasha says. “It gives you so much stability and being able to go down sonic rabbit holes.”
Like all musicians, Tasha’s 2020 touring plans were abruptly derailed by the COVID-19 outbreak and ensuing lockdown that has all but brought the live music industry to its knees. Despite this, Tasha maintains a refreshingly positive outlook for when touring recommences.
“I feel so grateful that I’ve been in Tasmania for the lockdown,” she says.
“I definitely had quite a big tour that was cancelled but still being able to create and connect with people through technology, still being able to sing – I’m just so grateful to have all these ways of expression. It’s a good time as well, though, to be still and slow, so I think there can be some good things.”
Normally, Tasha’s touring circuit takes her all the way around Australia as well as overseas to Europe, UK, the US and South America. In the meantime, Tasha has got her sights set closer to home as she prepares to release her new album.
“Recently I’ve been doing quite a bit in Australia, so I feel like I’ve got a few listeners here,” she says.
“Every now and then I’ll get a message from someone who is listening from afar, which is really lovely.”