“I don’t think I realised the radio had more than one station til I was 11 or 12,” Basia Bulat says. At the family home in Toronto, the dial was always fixed to the local oldies station: Motown, Stax, The Beatles, Beach Boys and Sam Cooke. While her mother hunted for someone to do the dishes, Basia and her younger brother Bobby would hide with a radio or tape player, happily rattled by all that song.
Since the age of three, Basia has been sitting on piano stools and trying to hammer things out. It started with her piano-teacher mum, but along the way Basia’s picked up guitar, autoharp, banjo, ukelele, sax and flute. In high-school her instrument was the upright bass – a lone girl among “eight-foot-tall guys, goofing off with the tubas”. There’s a sense of play that still suffuses her music, jostling under the songs of regret and love, want and joy. When her brother began in his teens to play drums with punk bands, Basia would be there with her demerara voice, joining happily in the jam. When she left for university in London, Ontario, musicians began to drop by her downtown apartment. Many nights were spent with these classically-trained friends, laughing and singing, and together they made a glad, bright noise.
For the summer of 2006, Basia went to live in Montreal. Through friends she met Howard Bilerman, an engineer and co-owner of the famed Hotel 2 Tango studio. Basia cashed some student loans to record with Bilerman in one of the final sessions at the original H2T site, but by the third day she had lost her voice. It was ultimately these rough early takes, hoarse with excitement, that formed the bulk of Oh My Darling. Initially the recordings were meant only as an “audible memory” of the time Basia spent with friends in London and Montreal: ”We liked playing together so much, and I just wanted to remember that.” But Bilerman was smitten with the songs, with Basia and her band, and he began to write to friends at labels, friends with music-blogs, anyone who might pay attention. For despite the original intention, these tracks are breathless, thirsty, dislodged from dreary nostalgia. There are strings, yes, and acoustic guitar, but also a frantic drum-kit gallop; the influence of the spirits of wild Jeff Magnum, big-voiced Odetta, Emily Dickinson and all those boisterous soul-music singles. It’s this spark that sets Basia Bulat apart from the raft of typical singer-songwriters, and also what attracted the interest of Geoff Travis and Britain’s legendary Rough Trade label – who released Oh My Darling in Europe and Japan in the spring of 2007. The album was released in North America shortly thereafter, and has since gone on to worldwide acclaim. It garnered a Polaris Prize nomination in 2008, and rave reviews from everyone from NPR and Q.
Her new offering, Heart Of My Own, was born after over a year of touring that took Bulat across Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States several times over. When it came time to move ahead with the new album Basia said goodbye to the road, took the newly penned songs up in her arms and found a home for them on tape, reuniting with Howard Bilerman in Montreal.
Nearly all the songs on Heart of My Own were written while on the road: traveling between cities, crossing the Canadian prairies, searching for a place to stop in the Nevada desert, trailing through the Smoky Mountains, standing in the bright dusk of a summer night in the Yukon. Perhaps most surprising was the strong influence her short time in the Yukon had on this album. Basia spent five days and nights in Dawson City, where for the first time she experienced true silence. "I felt my mind was overwhelmed with ideas. It had been a long-time dream of mine to make it to the Yukon, so to finally accomplish that, and for it to be possible because of my music, was also a very overwhelming thing."
Basia Bulat is currently on tour supporting Bowerbirds. Click here to view all the dates!
"New Artist of the Year nominee Basia Bulat says she "always feels green, no matter what." Find out why feeling like a newbie has its benefits"
Props to Basia Bulat for being nominated for a Juno award for Best New Artist! The nomination comes on the heels of a year touring in support of 2010's Heart of My Own. Though she's been close to our hearts for some time, the Best New Artist award is open to anyone who has never been nominated before. She's won over a lot of new fans this year and continues to sell out her record wherever she plays; we think the nomination is well deserved, and we'll be cheering her on in March at the Awards taking place in Toronto.
Basia Bulat is not done sharing her Heart with Canada! She's been all over the world since the release of her sophomore album Heart of My Own in January, and her nationwide tour that followed. The US, the UK, Poland, Sweden; the list of countries that have taken her into their hearts just seems to grow and grow. But in June she returns home to kickoff a summer schedule that's heavy with love for Canada, playing both intimate shows and some of the country's biggest summer festivals.
She returns to Toronto on June 4th at the Phoenix for the first time since her sold out album launch in January, visits Quebec City for the first time this year and plays three consecutive nights at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, and will appear at Hillside in Guelph, Bluesfest in Ottawa, and the Folk on the Rocks Festival in Yellowknife. She'll also be headed down to New York in August for a show with St. Vincent at Central Park Summerstage.
"Released on Jan. 26, the record boasts lush, textured soundscapes that evoke pretty, pastoral settings (think: rolling hills, billowing clouds, perhaps a cow) with Basia's warm, golden vocals streaming in like sunshine."
"Heart of My Own is Bulat's second album, and its 12 songs convey an undeniable worldliness, taking the endless landscape as her muse and interpreting all that distance as she passes along it."
Basia Bulat's Heart of My Own is finally out! And people seem to love it as much as we do, as the album has received some rave reviews across the country already. Don't forget that Basia starts her cross-Canada tour on February 2nd, and it runs all the way until early March, so odds are she's coming to your town. As always, you can get the record directly from us, your favourite record store, , and everywhere else fine records are sold.
Basia Bulat's new album, Heart of My Own, hits the street on January 26th, but folks in Canada can pre-order the album directly from us now. It's available on CD and LP (with free digital download), and we'll be shipping the orders to arrive on or before January 26th. We'll also be giving away an exclusive bonus new track that doesn't appear on the album to everyone who orders a physical copy from us. Basia kicks off a whirlwind tour in support of the album starting this coming Saturday in Toronto, at Trinity St. Paul's. Stay tuned for lots more...
Basia Bulat will head out on a winter tour beginning in February in support of her new album, Heart of My Own, due out on January 26th. The first single from Heart of My Own, "Gold Rush" is available now on .
Basia has already announced a kick-off show in Toronto prior to the album's release, at Trinity St. Paul's on January 16th, which is on sale now. She'll also e supporting Secret City label-mate Patrick Watson at Metropolis on December 16th. Tickets to the rest of the tour go on sale this Thursday, November 19th.
The tour dates are as follows:
Basia hosts the CBC Radio3 podcast this week...