Posted On 11 Jan 2019
Meet one of Warner Bros. Records newest signed artist- Canadian singer-songwriter Scott Helman! He’s about to hit the road on a US headline tour, fresh off his European tour with Vance Joy.
As a four-time JUNO Award nominee, Scott has dominated the Canadian music scene since the release of his platinum-certified debut single “Bungalow,” winning Spotify Canada’s Emerge program, and performing around the world with the likes of Tegan and Sara, Shawn Mendes and Walk Off The Earth.
Now breaking into the US, Scott recently dropped the video for “Hang Ups” off his new EP, Hang Ups, following his latest full-length album, Hôtel De Ville, and its hit singles “Ripple Effect” and the gold-certified “PDA.”
Watch the “Hang Ups” video here: https://youtu.be/gS_Kb6J6IT0
Learn more about Scott Helman in the following All Access interview:
– Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you now? Is there music playing in the background?
I’m on my way through northeastern United States. We’re playing some shows out here, which has been exciting. Currently listening to JP Saxe – “The Few Things.”
– Now that 2018 is over, how do you think the year treated you and your career? What was one goal that you had and did you reach it?
I had a lot of goals in 2018. One was to release new music, and really gun for a song that could move the needle again. I think I accomplished that with “Hang Ups,” which has had great success at Canadian radio, as well as on streaming services. Another goal was to keep pushing internationally, which I feel accomplished in as well, having toured Europe with Vance Joy and now with this US run. I also played on Good Morning America with Walk Off The Earth at the end of the year. So I’m feeling pretty good!!!
– Growing up, how important was music to you? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
Music has always connected with me more than other art forms, but it wasn’t until I was 10 and started to play the guitar that I discovered it could be something I could use to express myself. Even then, I kept it pretty private until some friends encouraged me to peruse it in public. I remember my first show when I was fifteen. It was at a little spot in Kensington Market, Toronto. It was only my friends, which was a little depressing, and the venue ended up being a tiny coffee shop. But I felt so excited to have found a place to share my music. We all went back to my friend’s house, and I stood on her kitchen table and screamed “IM GONNA BE A MUSICIAN” at the top of my lungs (which was, in hindsight, pretty obnoxious), and that was that. I felt I had taken the biggest risk possible, which is to make yourself vulnerable in front of your friends, and it could only get better from there. And it did.
– What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
Hauling luggage. I never thought being a touring artist would require so much back strength. 🤣
– How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown and where you live today?
I think music is more of a personal journey then one that can be explained by a place. People often look for “scenes” as a way of pinpointing the music from a particular city. For me, a 1st generation Canadian born to Jewish-British immigrants, being from Toronto created a conflict of identity that led me to seek a voice I could call my own. Luckily, Toronto, with its booming multiculturalism, mass of opportunity and saturation of art was a perfect playing field to battle out this conundrum. For that I am extremely grateful. I found so much music I could call my own, and in turn add to a repertoire I could identify with on a deeply personal level.
– Let’s talk about your latest singles and video for “Hang Ups” and “Ripple Effect.” What was the inspiration for these tracks? How do you think they compare to the rest of your full-length album, “Hotel De Ville”?
I wrote Hotel De Ville after years of touring and being constantly on the move. It was the first time in years that I had a couple months to myself, and I packed up all my things and moved into a tiny apartment in Montreal, Canada. I used a lot of this time to reflect and attempted to solve a lot of the problems I had knocking around in my head. To me, “Ripple Effect” very much encapsulates that process. That song, to me, is the real nugget of Hotel De Ville.
Hang Ups had a different intention. That EP for me was an attempt at creating with the gut, and then releasing music with the same gut. I sat on Hotel De Ville for quite a while without it being released. I really wanted to perfect that body of work before releasing it because I wanted to pay respect to the processes of healing that it implied. For Hang Ups, the gap between creation and release was much shorter. I’d like to think it’s because the process I went through of making Hotel De Ville worked in many aspects, and made me a much more confident artist.
– Did anything surprise you about putting together this EP? Any unexpected challenges to it all?
Yes. It was hard. In some respects it was harder than the previous records I’ve written because I feel the pressure more now. I’ve established myself in Canada, and I feel it’s time to start making some real waves globally, and I knew that meant the music has to reflect that. That’s a big reason why I wanted to release this EP as soon as I could. I think artists that do that have a better chance of sounding fresh and relevant in music. Still, I feel more ready that I ever have, and I’m glad it was hard, because so far, it’s paid off.
– What does it mean to you be singed to Warner Bros. Records now? Why do you think they are the perfect for you and your music now?
I’ve been part of the Warner Music team since I was 15. They’ve given me the space to grow, and the freedom to assert myself how I see fit. To have traction in the states is extremely excited, and I’m glad it’s turning into a family matter. I only want to work with people who see my vision, and so far Warner Music has put in all the effort they can to do just that.
– Since the beginning of music, people have turned to it for support and as an escape from their realities. How do you want your music received and appreciated?
I’m a strong believer in leaving the interpretation of art up to the audience. I think when it is, its gives space for people to feel they own something in the world, and to feel that about art, or any form of beauty, is the most powerful feeling there is. So: however it is chosen to be received and appreciated.
– What do you think of social media? What has been your experience so far using it to promote your music and interact with fans?
Like all things it has good and bad traits. What I do love about it is how it connects people. I mean, I’ve played tiny shows with thirty people in the audience, but everyone knows all the words and are so stoked because of Spotify, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram etc. It’s cool to feel like you really know an artist, and social media can make that bond stronger than it’d ever been.
What I struggle with is the comparisons. Instagram especially forces us to constantly compare ourselves to others and that scares me. When you’re sitting in a bus for 6 hours in a day with nothing but your phone, it’s easy to fall into a hole and focus on other people’s lives that seem more exciting that your own. Which is fucking stupid because my life right now is pretty damn exciting. So I’m currently trying to navigate that, and I want to do it publicly to show people they’re not crazy, and that there really is something inherent about some of these platforms that’s bad.
– Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
I’m constantly inspired by my friends. Deanna Petcoff, who is an amazing artist from Toronto whose also one of my besties. She’s incredible, and hearing an up-and coming indie artist give a female perspective has been very eye opening for me. Women have to jump a lot more hurdles in this industry.
Would love to collab with Carly Rae Jepson. And Lorde. And Alessia Cara. 🙂
– If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island forever, what musical item would you take with you and why?
My laptop. You can do anything on a laptop. (There’s plugs on this island right 😂)
– If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
I love the show Shameless although I’ve had to stop watching it since I’ve been so busy. I’ve always thought the syncing on that show was incredible, and the characters are so dynamic. Would love to see how they would use one of my songs.
– How was your recent tour with Vance Joy through Europe? What were some of your favorite crowds and venues?
The tour was absolutely amazing. It’s really a blessing to be on and bill with an artist like that, especially one that I’ve covered before. I think the audience really understood my music and to me it was a great fit. My favourite show was probably Dublin. The last show of any tour is always really exciting and bittersweet. The audience was incredible and really made the night magical.
– Do you have any tour dates you would like to tell our readers about? How will you be spending your winter?
I’m really excited to be announcing my next Canadian tour. I haven’t been back to Canada since my Hang Ups EP was released, and I’m thrilled to come back home and play these new songs, along with some old ones. See Canada tour dates here
– At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? I’d like to know more about how you want your music to be timeless?
I’m not interested so much in attempting to be timeless, or how my fans interpret my music. I think those kinds of intentions end up working against you as an artist because they box you in and skew your motives. I just want to show people they can be whoever they wish to be, and I want to do that by being myself. I think working through conflict in public is a beautiful thing because it displays ownership over one’s strife. I want my fans, or anyone in this world, to feel like they too have this ownership. Each song is a different lesson I’ve learned, whether before, during, or after making it, and whatever lesson is inferred by the listener is up to them.
– Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I have an initiative called Solve the Solvable. It is a space for anyone in the world to talk about positive local change they are involved with, and a platform for people to connect over shared interests. If you’re interested, go to www.solvethesolvable.com, or go to the Facebook group here.