As we settle into chill, new music can be a fireplace to gather around. Basia Bulat is a chanteuse from Canada with a haunting voice, adept at telling tales to warm the winter night. Like our story on Chelsea Wolfe last fall, Basia Bulat presents folk music with a sexy twist.
Love that a petite person wrote a song about a tall shadow! What is Tall Tall Shadow about?
Thank you! I fell in love with the idea that a shadow to many people implies darkness and sorrow, but actually it can’t exist without light, and I loved that the imagery seemed to work on different levels for different people. People take the song to mean so many different things, which I love.
You have an incredible voice. What singers inspired you growing up?
Growing up I loved Odetta, Stevie Nicks, Leonard Cohen, Sam Cooke, Buffy Sainte Marie, Elvis, Joni Mitchell, Harry Nilsson, The Supremes, and I still love all those singers. When I got to high school I discovered artists like Elliott Smith, Beck, Fiona Apple, Bjork…and I’m still inspired by all those singers, too. I’m definitely inspired by people who can spin a good story around me.
You play a number of stringed instruments, which are your favorites? How do you decide whether to play a tune on piano or autoharp?
I don’t really have a favorite – although lately I have been writing more on the piano, which is the first instrument I learned to play. The fun part about being a touring musician is that I can try out different arrangements of songs every night! On stage on this tour I’ll be playing piano, guitar, autoharp, charango, and keyboard/synthesizer.
If you weren’t making music what would your job be?
I couldn’t even in a hypothetical world imagine not making music.
Who are some other Canadian musicians NYC should pay attention to now?
I really love Austra (from Toronto) and Little Scream (from Montreal) – both are bands with incredible women fronting them, beautiful singing and really inspired playing.
What’s your favorite winter activity?
It’s a toss up between snowboarding (I used to be a snowboarding instructor, in high school) or ice skating. Ice skating is so much more romantic though, so I’ll say ice skating.
Your background is Polish, are you big in Krakow (or Greenpoint, Brooklyn)?
I guess we’ll find out! I like to visit Jubilat Provisions when I’m in Brooklyn, maybe they’re fans of mine too!