Basia Bulat, renowned Canadian folk singer and lyricist, is being welcomed on stage this Friday by the Isabel Bader Centre to perform her new album, The Garden.
The Journal sat down with Bulat to learn more about her journey as a musician and what influenced her choice of the autoharp as her accompanying instrument.
“My mom was a piano teacher and played guitar as well—I just wanted to do what she was doing and from there I couldn’t stop my obsession [with music].”
The folk musician attended the University of Western Ontario and moved to Montreal to record an audible memory.
Bulat said she was first drawn to an autoharp being sold at a neighbourhood yard sale, intrigued by how distinct folk instruments are from traditional musical instruments.
“I just kept meeting people who were playing all sorts of different kind of folk instruments. That’s how I found the triangle, the scissors—now I’ve gotten really into synthesizers, too.”
One of her biggest inspirations is Jeremy Dutcher, a Canadian and Indigenous musician and activist, who uses his creations to reach cross-generationally and geographically.
“I’m interested in exploring a whole range of emotions and how that can transcend time and space,” Bulat said.
“My songs emulate what state of mind I’m in. That could be when I’m feeling good or when I’m feeling like garbage—it’s usually when the extremes of emotions hit that the music reflects it in its quality.”
Bulat’s new album, The Garden, is a combination of various arrangements she’s been holding onto over the last few years.
“The whole world shut down and it seemed like the perfect time to try to take a look at which songs over the past years carry on, how I feel now versus when I wrote them.”
Bulat reflected on the being back on tour post COVID-restrictions.
“It’s interesting because it’s still with us. We didn’t know what was going to happen when this all started and if we’d be able to perform again.”
While being on the road after the pandemic has already been an adjustment, Bulat also now has her toddler accompanying her on the road.
“She’s probably better behaved than a lot of rock stars we know, so that part’s good.”
Bulat is performing on Sept. 30—interested parties can purchase a ticket here.
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