Basia Bulat Is Bringing Together a Community of Fans in Isolation
She is passing the time with U.S. Girls, piano scales and growing seedlings
Published Apr 20, 2020As challenging as the coronavirus lockdown has been for fans, artists and record stores, Basia Bulat's recent experiences prove that music communities are still as strong as ever. The folk-rock songwriter has been unable to tour in support of her Jim James-produced new album Are You in Love?, but her social media livestreams have been fostering connections between fans. In fact, she regrets not having done livestreams before now. We caught up with Bulat about the music, films and pastimes she's been enjoying at home in Montreal.
What's your self-isolation setup?
I'm in Montreal with my husband Andrew (whose wonderful musical project is called Legal Vertigo, by the way!), and we are doing alright so far in our little corner of the city. We are growing lots of little seedlings on the windowsills, and we try to catch the sunset every day that we can.
Are you working on any music while on lockdown?
My album Are You in Love? came out on March 27, and while I of course had to postpone my tour, I've been doing livestream shows on Instagram and Facebook and dedicating each show to a different local charity that viewers can donate to if they're able. I actually feel a bit silly that I'd never done anything like that before, because it's been such a lovely revelation to see people from all over the world tuning in and meeting each other at one of my 'shows' and it's all been very sweet. In between things like that, all sorts of little melodies are coming up all the time... Right now they're like the seedlings on my windowsill, getting lots of sunlight and care and we'll see what they grow into.
What are you watching and listening to?
Like everyone else, I binge-watched Tiger King in one sitting. I love Hip-Hop Evolution, Better Call Saul, Salt Fat Acid Heat, Jeopardy... My plan is to (re-)watch as many films by Agnes Varda as I can next week. Right now I'm reading Ocean Vuong and Wislawa Szymborska. I'm listening to U.S. Girls, Martha Wainwright, Haruomi Hosono, Brian Eno, Jean-Michel Blais, Alexandra Stréliski, and some amazing Vladimir Horowitz LPs my great uncle gave me. I'm also singing a lot of karaoke.
How do you feel about the response to coronavirus?
I think people are really doing the best they can. Healthcare workers, front-line workers, grocery store cashiers are heroes and I'm so grateful to them and for their courage. I wish it didn't have to take this crisis to show us that we can change the way our world is structured very quickly if we want to — but I hope that this will finally lead to the big changes in our relationship with the planet, each other, and in the way we take care of the most vulnerable people in our society that we really need.
Have you picked up any new hobbies or routines in isolation?
I'm trying to start each morning with coffee and practicing my piano scales, and I think it's working — slowly!
Find out what other Canadian musicians have been up to under self-quarantine with our Isolation Nation questionnaire.