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Basia Bulat: Something old, something new

Something old, something new

Bulat: Attack of the (conversation) killer pianos!

Understated indie pop artist Basia Bulat looks backward while moving forward

"That’s as clear as it’s going to get for a while. There are a lot of pianos being played in this building," laughs Basia Bulat shortly after taking my call. There are, too. For a while all I heard was Bulat’s cheerful voice spitting random syllables that came in and out. And, of course, pianos.

"I’m in the music building at [the University of Western Ontario]. I’ve come back to visit some of my old haunts, and old friends," she explains, having found a quieter place to talk. "I’m in the piano aisle. And I’m hanging out with the cellos and basses, where they store them. I’m just kind of hiding in the corner."

A few years ago, Basia Bulat was hiding in a different corner, on the outermost fringes of the Canadian music scene. A lit student at Western with musical inclinations, a radio show and a ton of music-y friends, but without a real history of performing, she was coaxed into opening for Julie Doiron. From there, she’s never looked back. Her first full-length release, 2007′s Oh, My Darling, made the shortlist for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize and its $20,000 purse. Talk of a follow-up LP is in the air, but in the meantime, there is an interesting little 7-inch called Touch the Hem of His Garment to tide fans over.

"It was just a fun experiment, actually, to record it," she says of Garment, which nods to Sam Cooke. "I think we recorded it, mixed and mastered it in an hour, and just as an experiment to see if we could do it the same way people used to back in ‘the good old days,’ I suppose, where people would do four, five songs a day in a studio and the next week it would be out on the radio. Now things obviously take a little longer.

"It was more of a sort of ‘Try to do it the old way and see if it works,’ and I think it did."

Basia Bulat
At Il Motore (179 Jean-Talon W.), Jan. 24

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