Tash York on Leaving Brisbane
Anjelica Rankin | On 16, Mar 2020
Task York is known for her unique brand of cabaret and comedy, but did you know she was born in Brisbane? In this interview, she discusses why she waved goodbye to Brissie and hello to Melbourne.
In my final year of university, I was writing a book about a Brisbane-based band of heroes. When my tutor read my work, he joked, “Why don’t they move to Melbourne?” Which was, you know, funny. But only because it was, you know, true. The sad fact is, although Brisbane has a growing arts scene, it cannot compare to the cultural juggernaut of Melbourne. It was the second most liveable city in 2019, so why wouldn’t heroes and creatives move there?
Tash discovered her voice in Brisbane. Literally. “To be honest, I was really supported during high school. I was lucky enough to go to a high school which specialised in music…without encouragement there, I don’t know if I would have found singing and musicals later on.”
And there is something to be said about Brisbane being a great place to learn and grow: “It was such a supportive, wonderful environment to learn in, because no-one was getting paid and we were doing it for the love of it. I made some life-long friends during that time who still come to a show with I put them on in Brisbane.”
Like Tash, talented people often outgrow Brisbane’s small independent scene. She moved to Melbourne at the end of 2013, because, “I realised that I didn’t quite fit in ‘Musical Land’ anymore. I had a friend who lived in Melbourne and was really interested in making shows that we could tour to help me find work post uni. As he lived in Melbs, I flew back and forth there quite a bit, and I realised it had this incredible scene that Brisbane didn’t have at that time,” she goes on to say, “I was ready for a change, a new place. There’s something about Melbourne that always felt like home to me, and that’s not changed ever since.”
But the city doesn’t hold all the cards. When asked what Brisbane has that Melbourne doesn’t Tash jokes, “Good weather!” But is still quick to praise her hometown, “I am really impressed with how many more independent producers are making things in Brisbane, and that there are more venues available to make a start over the past 3 or 4 years in particular.”
However, Melbourne is a double-edged sword – it’s a place for creatives to thrive, but, because of that, it’s overcrowded with talented artists. Tash has wrestled with this: “Definitely, when I first moved there I struggled to find audiences for my shows.”
Speaking of audiences, Tash offers some insights. “I’d have to say, Melbourne audiences are actually the toughest! Because we have so much on and so many things to choose from, Melbourne audiences are actually quite hard to impress. So, I guess for me, when I have a successful show in Melbs, I know it’s going to kill elsewhere.”
Is there an alternative relativity where Tash stayed in Brisbane? Well, according to her, no. “I don’t know if I could have ever stayed,” she admits, “if it wasn’t Melbourne It was going to be London.”
She imagines what alternative reality Tash would be doing anyway: ”I feel like I probably would have maybe gone down a more arts management path if I’d stayed, as I also have a business degree.”
If you haven’t seen any of Tash’s shows, firstly, you should! Secondly, a lot of them are about how her identity has transitioned through adulthood. When asked to think about this in terms of her Melbourne-self and Brisbane-self, she says, “Oh, absolutely my identity is forever transforming. As you get older you find out more about yourself. The more shows you do, the more experiences you have. Especially in Cabaret, it’s always so fluid from performance to performance – I think Brisse me would have been scared shitless of me now!”
And who better to take advice from than someone so fierce they scare their past self? When asked what her advice is to other young creatives feeling stuck in Brisbane she says, “Sell everything and leave! Kidding. If you are feeling stuck, the best thing to do is travel. Go to a fringe festival – Adelaide and Perth are just amazing places of creativity of all kinds…Or, if you don’t have much money, go and support your local independent artists doing work in your city!”
Tash York is a Melbourne-based cabaret performer, singer, and all-round funny person. If you want to hear more of her perspective, check out her podcast Friends With Benefits, where she discusses careers and mental health with other creative professionals.
She is also coming back to Brisbane (see, Mr. University Tutor, there are places for heroes and creatives to thrive). Tash will be hosting the After Hours Cabaret Club at the Miami Marketta.
Images Credit: Tash York, Alexi Desauliniers- Lea and Archery Productions