Magical sounds for a magical setting
CANADIAN folk singer Basia Bulat has arrived on our shores to make her debut at the Woodford Folk Festival.
With an atmospheric new album due for release in the new year, the Toronto native will treat festival-goers to her new material as well as some old favourites.
In this exclusive Q&A, she tells the Daily about her evolving sound and what’s in store for fans at her first show in Woodfordia tomorrow night.
Q: You’re finishing off 2019 with your debut at the Woodford Folk Festival. What have you heard about the event?
A: When I was last in Australia (in March) everyone I met was telling me about Woodford – I’ve never played the festival before so I’m very excited to be a part of it and spend the new year in such a magical setting!
Q: What do you have planned for your Woodford sets? Will they focus on your upcoming new album Are You in Love?
A: Since I haven’t had a chance to play in Australia very much I will be playing a mix of older and newer songs. A lot of my Australian fans have sent me notes with requests which is very sweet and I am looking forward to exploring them in a new way over here. I’m bringing a band with me for these shows so we’re going to have some room to stretch out into the new arrangements and jam a bit too.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your songwriting process for the new album?
A: Are You in Love is an album about love and grief, and a lot of questions with no answers – but in a joyful way. I started out recording in the desert in Joshua Tree and the landscape was a big part of the process. We recorded outside a lot and played with manipulating the sounds of the wind and the sand.
I took some time away from making the album to really be present for all the changes happening in my life – I got married, loved ones were being born and passing – and when I came back I saw that the sonic landscape of those original recordings was as vital to the songs as the lyrics I wrote while going through those changes, and for those questions and those feelings to sing in harmony with the wind.
Q: You play the autoharp and charango. How did those instruments became part of your music?
A: I’m interested in many different kinds of folk instruments, two of which are the autoharp and the charango. I am drawn to them firstly because of my love for folk music of all kinds. I find the autoharp compelling because of the history of incredible women who have played it and who have inspired me – Dolly Parton, The Carter Family, PJ Harvey, etc. And I also love that it has the potential for many different sonic possibilities beyond what people expect. I fell in love with the charango after meeting some musicians from Peru who introduced me to the instrument, and the rich history behind it is very inspiring. There is a story to every instrument and I love exploring where that story and my style of playing can intertwine.
Q: Outside of your shows, what do you hope to do/see while you’re here in Australia?
A: I’m hoping to see as much local music as possible! And to drink a lot of flat whites.
Basia Bulat plays the Woodford Folk Festival tomorrow(SUBS Sunday Dec 29), Tuesday and Wednesday.