In TSHA’s world, things move fast. It has been just over two years since TSHA (real name: Teisha Matthews) wrote a list of career goals upon deciding to give electronic music a go. These ranged from mundane (‘decide artist name’) to ambitious (‘release music on a good label’). Little did she know that in two years, she would achieve every one of those goals, and then some. A rising star, TSHA has achieved a staggering amount in the short time she has been making music, including her own show on Worldwide FM and a summer spent touring British festivals. Yet do not mistake her success for serendipity: having written her list of goals to break the electronic industry, TSHA worked tirelessly, getting piano lessons to understand music theory.
‘Learning an instrument helps you get the ideas in your head out and develop new rhythms and ideas for melodies. Once you know an instrument, you are limitless in your musical explorations.’
Dawn, her 2018 debut EP, was a concise offering, boasting warm Balearic melodies, idiosyncratic samples and toothsome percussion. It was a bold enough statement to get a signing from Ninja Tune subsidiary Counter Records, less than a year after the EP’s release. She describes the pace of it all as ‘a massive surprise...it felt like everything was happening on autopilot’. The momentum continued to accumulate across 2019: she had her inquisitive single Sacred featured in a fabric presents mix by her personal hero, Bonobo, ‘the reason I started making music in the first place’. Yet TSHA should not be relegated merely to the electronic scene she has found herself in: she has cited shapeshifter Kanye West as an idol, and she got her start DJing hip hop tracks.
‘I wouldn’t say I was fully a club kid in the traditional sense, but I have always had a love affair with club culture and dance music since I was very young’.
Her most recent single, Sister, from the upcoming EP Flowers, marks a decisive new step in her journey. Where her prior work operated within tight, colourful grooves, Sister is as expansive and feathery as its cover, a festival-ready embrace of a song. Rich with Bollywood strings and mellow electric guitar, it sounds like TSHA in bloom. (Indeed, the aesthetic direction for the EP was inspired by recurring dreams of flowers). Sister’s breadth feels especially appropriate considering her move to Ninja Tune, a veritable Mecca for era-defining musicians, home to Young Fathers, Leon Vynehall and Bicep, among many others.
Whilst COVID-19 has suspended clubbing for the moment (including several festival dates pushed back to the new year), TSHA has appreciated the time off. ‘It’s actually been great for writing music. It’s given me more time and more head space to create. I’ve enjoyed being able to focus solely on music.’
Singles which keep getting better, remixes for Foals and Lianne La Havas, recognition from one of her idols, all within 3 years: it’s an exciting time to be Teisha Matthews. ‘My whole life takes me by surprise, it can be quite daunting’.