Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Feb 9th 2010 12:50PM by Annie Reuter
Canadian singer-songwriter Basia Bulat was practically born into music. The daughter of a piano teacher, Bulat learned every instrument she could get her hands on at an early age. While her first album, 'Oh, My Darling,' debuted to worldwide acclaim, her latest release, 'Heart of My Own' has garnered similar praise. Rolling Stone raves, "Stronger than her debut, [Bulat is] applying her gently wavering voice to stark, dramatic folk songs." Spinner recently spoke with Bulat about her upcoming appearance at SXSW and songwriting process.When did you decide you wanted to be a musician?
I started playing piano when I was three and it went from there. My mom was a piano teacher, so music was always a huge part of my life. I studied bass, flute and saxophone in grade school and high school and I was in choirs. Just before university I picked up guitar. It's been a part of my life ever since I can remember.Describe your sound in your own words.
I don't like that question at all. It's so counterproductive to try and describe a sound when you can just listen to it. It's too hard for me to answer.What are your musical influences?
I can probably say one of my biggest influences is a singer named Odetta. She's probably one of my biggest influences in terms of the music I love, why I love music and why it's important to me.What's in your festival survival kit?
I've only been [to SXSW] once and I didn't really need anything to survive. I guess just lots of water; it's going to be hot. Water and sunscreen!What's your biggest vice?
I try to do everything all the time. Not that I'm so great when it comes to SXSW because you just can't do everything.What's your musical guilty pleasure?
I don't feel guilty about anything I listen to. Whether or not other people might, it's their business. But if I like it, I like it.The Beatles or Stones?
We were in a gas station once that looked like a taxidermy studio. That was pretty crazy. Many, many deer and elk heads and bear pelts. It was actually really intense to pump gas and then go in there and pay for it. It was an oddity.Who was your first celeb crush?
Gosh. Who was it? It must have been somebody like John Lennon when I was discovering the Beatles when I was a kid.What are you thinking about while performing?
The best performances are actually when nothing is in your head. It sounds cheesy to say, but in the moment you aren't thinking ahead, you're not thinking behind, you're thinking right in that second. That's the best performance and that's what I'm always going for. It's hard to think about not thinking, but it's actually the goal.Do you prepare differently for a festival than your own concert?
Not really. When I was playing SXSW two years ago, you still had showcases in the sense that there is a full set. You just want to put on a good show regardless whether people know you or don't know you. A good show is going to be a good show and it can be a good show for different reasons. The only thing you can control in every situation is the fact that you're going to give it your best and you're going to have a good time playing onstage. So, that's what I try to do for every show.Do you feel a song comes out better when it's based on real life or fantasy?
I'm never good at writing a song that's about a particular event. Every time I've tried to write a song specifically about something or someone it comes out terribly. Generally, the best songs happen a little more subconsciously than that and maybe afterwards I can recognize different things they reference. It happens without you even realizing it. With certain songs I know the words I'm trying to play with and the ideas that I'm working around, and that opens up a bigger stage for you. An idea like the song 'Gold Rush,' you leave enough space that you can let your mind go down different paths as you're writing and as you're thinking about what needs to be in each spot.What was the inspiration behind 'Gold Rush'?
'Gold Rush' was one of those songs that I wrote long before I made it to Dawson City. I was reading about it a lot. I was reading about the history of Dawson and I was thinking about all these ideas that come to people's minds when you think of the gold rush. The feeling of obsession was something that was interesting to me. The melody was something I couldn't get out of my head so I figured that I should be putting those two together.
What's your advice to musicians who want to break into the industry and perform at SXSW?
Play the music that's going to make you happy when you're playing it. If you're doing it for love, if you really love what you're doing, it's worth more than anything else really. It's something I have always done, and you never know if you're going to make a living from doing it, but you just do it. You can't help it. At least I can't.
Annie Reuter is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.