Premiere: Indie Songstress Tanatswa Estina. Discusses New Single ‘Sadder Than I Thought’, Upcoming EP

Tanatswa Estina. is a singer-songwriter and producer who excels in existentialism and poetry within her music. And today, September 29th, Estina has released her new single, “Sadder Than I Thought.” It is a stellar introduction to her solo debut EP, I will stay for myself, which comes out October 21st.

Based in Nashville, the indie rock songstress draws inspiration from her experiences with mental health as well as existentialist experiences she has faced. Digging into the human condition and conveying deep-rooted feelings is something she’s grown accustomed to.

She recently pivoted her career as a solo artist, after the successes that she had with her previous band, Estina. & The Black Sleep. She has a love for performing and has shown dynamic live performances as both a lead singer and a solo artist.

Her new single, “Sadder Than I Thought” is a song that Estina wrote while processing a mental breakdown. It resonates with the listener from the jump, and the ending repetition of, “I am losing my mind” allows the listener to get a sense of the fragility of the human condition as sung by Estina.

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She will be performing in Wom3n in The Front tonight, September 29th, to benefit the YMCA of Middle Tennessee.

We got to talk to Estina about the new single, upcoming album, and much more.

So could you tell us a bit more about yourself and how you got into songwriting and playing music? Who or what inspired you to do so?

I got into songwriting through poetry. My mom is a poet, and when I was in 2nd grade learning about literature, my mom and I would write and share our poems with each other. 

During that year, my parents bought a keyboard for my brother and I. I would use it to make melodies to go with my poems. I never really learned how to play the piano; but I picked up a guitar in middle school, and the practice of songwriting stuck.

In general, I’ve always been inspired by the way music has made me feel seen. The ability to hear a melody and be like “Wait a minute! Someone else feels this way too!?” is so valuable to me. It also feels like a release when you complete a song that captures the nuance of something you’re experiencing.

What was the transition like from working with your band Estina. & The Black Sheep. to working solo? 

It was weird. I worked solo before; so after two years with the band, performing solo again felt like getting back to basics. 

I learned a lot working with Sarah, Rebeka and Dustin. It was cool to be able to write a song, bring it to the band, collaboratively build out the instrumentation and see people respond to our hard work. This EP wouldn’t exist without that experience. 

You’ve got your new single, “Sadder Than I Thought.” out today, September 29. What’s the inspiration and influence behind it?

Therapy, lol. At the time, I had accomplished a lot professionally; but I was burnt out, let down by people I looked up to, and I couldn’t get out of bed. I didn’t realize just how much I depended on what I accomplished, and how other people treated me to validate my life. I thought I was just tired; but I was sadder than I thought (roll credits).

What made “Sadder Than I Thought.” stand out as your choice for the lead single on the EP?

I think a lot of people can relate to struggling with perfectionism and people pleasing; and it definitely sets the tone for the rest of the EP. “Sadder Than I Thought” is also a song I wrote in 2019, so it feels like the firstborn of its siblings. 

You also have your debut solo EP coming out October 21st, I will stay for myself. What more can you tell us about the album? Any overarching themes or motifs throughout?

I wrote this EP while in the midst of realizing that I was the most fickle person in my life. Whenever I experienced lows, shame, or hardship, I would expect my friends to bail on me. Instead, they would stay and become family to me; even when I wanted to abandon myself. This EP is about learning to love who I am and where I’m at.

What messages or feelings do you hope listeners take away from it?

I hope people feel more compassion for themselves after listening.

If you could co-write a song and/or tour with any living idol of yours, who would it be and why?

That’s a hard question. I would love to write with SZA. Her writing style is so vulnerable and, at times, devastating. She would be fun to write with, and I would learn a lot from her. I would’ve loved to tour with Tina Turner. She is the queen; and her stage presence and drive is inspirational.

What does success as a musician and songwriter mean to you?

Success means a lot of different things to me. I feel successful every time I get to release music or perform on stage because my younger self would be so excited. I feel successful with this release because I didn’t think I would ever produce music, and I did it. Future success looks like having the ability to write, produce and perform music full time.

Are you mostly focused on the release of the new album coming up, or are there other fall and winter plans in the works? Touring or regional gigs?

My plan is to focus on the EP release, sleep for two weeks straight, and then start tour planning. It’s been so long since I’ve performed my own music and I’m really excited to get on the road and connect with new people.

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