Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Basia Bulat

Basia Bulat
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Armed with a powerfully captivating voice, a knack for song writing, and an impressive breadth of instrumental talent, Toronto’s Basia Bulat is the full package.  With the recent release of her new album Tall Tall Shadow, AMBY caught up with this folk power house to find out the inspiration behind the instruments, the influence of her Polish Heritage, and the interplay between imagination and experience.

AMBY: You just got back from tour dates across Europe and Scandinavia to three dates at Polish Combatants Hall in Toronto. Welcome home! Was the Polish Combatants Hall a significant choice of venue for you?

Basia Bulat: Thank you! Yes, of course – I loved the character of the building and the fact that there would be a link to my family roots made it extra special.

AMBY: Your earlier songs have an almost fairy-tale like sense of storytelling but the songs on Tall Shadows take on a soulful tone. How would you describe the interplay between imagination and experience on your new album as compared to Oh My Darling and Heart of My Own?

Basia Bulat: This album was written more directly from personal experience, from a place of sadness but always trying to look forward and stay hopeful. There’s still an imaginative sense (I think at least), but I really wanted this album to be truthful to how I was feeling at the time.

AMBY: What helped inform the decision to include electronic instrumentation on this album?

Basia Bulat: On this record the goal was really to take the direction of the production from the lyrics, and find the best way to tell the story that was in the song.

AMBY: You seem to be proficient in a wide variety of instruments. Do you find that you write different songs for different instruments?

Basia Bulat: For Tall Tall Shadow I wrote most of the songs on the piano, but it always varies. Sometimes I’ll write on one instrument and then the arrangement will change and the lead instrument will be something else. The important thing for me at least is just to try to not get stuck in old habits or patterns.

AMBY: Which instruments are your favourite to play?

Basia Bulat: I love them all!

AMBY: Who inspires you as a vocalist and songwriter?

Basia Bulat: I’m really inspired by and in awe of Buffy Sainte Marie both as a singer and as a songwriter.

AMBY: If you could invite any three people to record an album with, who would you pick?

Basia Bulat: I’m superstitious about that stuff, it might not happen if I say it!

AMBY: What’s on your turntable right now?

Basia Bulat: I’m really into 28 Days by U.S. Girls right now.

AMBY: What’s the best release of the year?

Basia Bulat: Ah, but that’s not fair! The year’s not up yet!

AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about Basia Bulat that nobody knows yet?

Basia Bulat: Oh you know, I’m an open book, really.


Thank you Basia Bulat, for giving us your answers!

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Nadia Kaakati | @NadiaKaakati

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