Finding her Heart on the road

Musician Basia Bulat may have travelled the world, but she still has a soft spot for solitude

London, Ontario singer-songwriter Basia Bulat released her major-label debut Oh My Darling in 2007 and was subsequently shortlisted for the prestigious 2008 Polaris Prize. She is currently touring her sophomore release Heart of My Own.

It’s not often you find a musician so inspired by silence.

But when London, Ontario born singer-songwriter Basia Bulat set about writing songs for her new record, the sound of silence was exactly what she needed.

Though she wrote many of her songs on the road, whether it be in Europe, Australia, or the U.S., a particularly important moment in her writing came when she took a five-day trek to the Yukon for the Dawson City Music Festival.

“I had always wanted to go there and when I finally did it, I have to say it was incredibly therapeutic,” the 26-year-old said over the phone last week.

“[The Yukon] was very necessary after all the time on the road. The silence could be very intoxicating. At the same time, I still played like five shows while I was there, so it wasn’t all quiet times.”

Bulat, who began playing music at a very young age, made her big break when Oh My Darling, her first full-length record, debuted in 2007.

The album was met with much acclaim, and Bulat was subsequently short-listed for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize in 2008.

Now back after touring the world, Bulat is ready to take it all on again with the release of her sophomore record Heart of My Own.

Her songwriting reflects a personal love of classical literature and poetry, juggling both the mirthful and the morose.

“I try to always incorporate the happy and the sad. I think most of life is like that. It’s rare that you find something that is entirely one or the other, that sort of pure emotion. Life doesn’t really seem to work that way.”

Bulat is now back on the road touring the nation on her first all-headlining tour.

Opening for her is fellow Ontario songwriter Katie Stelmanis, whom she said she can’t praise enough.

“When I first saw her perform, she totally blew me away. She’s really an amazing performer. I’m so lucky to have her,” Bulat raved.

When she makes her way to Winnipeg’s West End Cultural Centre on Feb. 25, it certainly won’t be the first time the seasoned performer has travelled through these parts.

“You guys are crazy. I remember playing the [Winnipeg] Folk Fest, and it was so cold and rainy all weekend. But everyone was still dancing in the rain and enjoying themselves. It was really hard for us as performers to complain when we saw crowds like that. They were incredible.”

Though her journey with Heart of My Own has just begun, the adventurous Bulat is already thinking about what she’d like to work on next, which she said may incorporate her strong Polish heritage.

“I would love to do an album entirely in Polish. When I was there, I really fell in love with it. But the record will have to wait until I’m confident enough in my Polish to decide to do it.”

Published in Volume 64, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 11, 2010)

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