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INTERVIEW: Katie Antoniou talks Tall Tall Shadows with Basia Bulat

If you haven't heard of Basia Bulat before, it's her third album 'Tall Tall Shadow' co-produced with Grammy Award-winning engineer Mark Lawson and Tim Kingsbury of Arcade Fire that will get your attention. Basia has shared a stage with - among others - St Vincent, Beirut, Tune- Yards, Arcade Fire, Andrew Bird and Nick Cave. With her smooth vocals and bitter-sweet lyrics, she's been perfectly able to hold her own alongside such greats. We caught up with Basia as she prepares to head out on tour- starting with a London date on 8th August.

KA: Your use of the autoharp got lots of attention- what do you like about the instrument? Are there any other unusual instruments you'd like to learn to play?

BB: I’m not sure exactly why but I was really drawn to the instrument from the very first time I heard it – to my ears it sounds really magical as well as kind of rough or abrasive at the same time, and I found that really interesting. I never really think of any instrument as unusual! I think there are some things I’ve been more drawn to in the past, especially instruments that are more popular within the ‘folk’ tradition, and stringed/fretted instruments more specifically... but lately I’ve been more interested in learning a bit about how synthesizers work and slowly kind of figuring that stuff on my own has been really fun.

KA: Your brother Bobby also features on your new album- what was it like working with family?

BB: I’m very lucky that my brother and I have played music together since we were old enough to hold instruments in our hands - he’s the person who best understands where my songs are coming from and where I want them to go.

KA: What's on your ipod at the moment?

BB: The timing of this interview is funny because I haven't been listening to anything on my ipod since I got my record player repaired! So I’ve spent the past month just listening to LPs and it’s been the best- today I’ve been listening to John Cale’s Paris 1919 and Little Ann’s Deep Shadows. I’ve also been listening to Other Life by Sean Nicolas Savage a lot, I really love that record.

KA: You've shared the stage with the likes of St Vincent and Arcade Fire- what other acts would you like to perform with?

BB: I want to go back in time and open for Laura Nyro! And the Supremes! Where in the world would you most like to travel to and perform? It’s my dream to be able to go to Japan and play there someday. I really hope that can happen with this album!

KA: Touring can be pretty exhausting- do you get homesick or do you enjoy being on the road?

BB: Yes! Both! But the shows themselves are a cure for being homesick. And the other cure for homesickness is to make friends in all the beautiful cities one tours to, and I think luckily I'll also be covered in that respect as well!

KA: I imagine you'll be doing a lot of work promoting the new record- when do you think you'll next get a holiday? What do you do to relax when you do get some time off?

BB: If I remember correctly I think I’ll be on tour from October 1st to December 11th, and after that I’ll have some time off til the end of the year. I live in Toronto, in a part of the city that isn’t too far from Lake Ontario, so I usually end up walking along the lake (even if it’s crazy cold out, which it will be by then)! Toronto is a really great city for music, so I also try to catch as many shows as I can when I'm home, but I think more than likely by then I'll want to try and sneak into the studio for a few days too.

See Basia live in London on 8th August.