Scott Helman’s life is “all good.”
The teen’s speech is peppered with the phrase, punctuated with “like, you know?” and “awesome” but beyond the teen-speak is an artist with something to say about today’s music and keeping it real.
As we chat on the phone, Helman is eating sushi at a Toronto restaurant after spending the morning rehearsing for the Much Music Video Awards. A Much blogpost reports the 19-year-old singer, who released his breakout EP Augusta with Warner Canada last November, “looked like a seasoned pro” and pronounced him “swoon-worthy.”
Although he’s young, Helman has years of practice under his belt, he started playing guitar at age 10 and was posting YouTube videos of his efforts at 13.
Execs at Warner Music Canada took note and brought him in for a face-to-face. “They put me in front of a mic and I played my songs for the guys at Warner and it kinda just went from there,” he says easily. “It was an Amos Lee cover called Arms of a Woman. It’s a super old song that I should not have been playing at that age, but I liked it.”
When he got his guitar, his dad told him he had to learn Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. “I was like what? I ended up checking out all these bands and realized how far art could go and how important art was.”
His influences include Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album, Bob Marley and The Beatles.
“When I got a bit older, like 14, 15 – angsty age – I was really into Nirvana and all that, Smashing Pumpkins, Sum 41, like, when you’re 14 and you think you’re right about everything.”
These days he absorbs all the music he can.
“I think it’s a really interesting time for pop music. You can have Ariana Grande and you can also have Ed Sheeran and Jake Bugg – there’s artists on the radio who’ve just come out of nowhere and they’re just amazing, so I like everything as long as it has value and it’s honest and I think I can relate to it. I think all music has a function. There’s no need to bash anybody.”
The function of music though, is up to the listener, he says. “My music is what I love to do and it’s my art and it’s the area of my life where I get to explore, but once you release a song it’s property of the listener. It’s no longer your song. When I’m playing a song and I see people singing along, I realize that they’re listening to Bungalow or Machine or Tikka or something and they’re like, ‘wow I see all these images from my childhood or my lover or my friends or my family,’ so the song is the property of them and it’s their ideas they put on top of your ideas.”
He cut his teeth with a live performance at a school assembly in front of about 600 of his peers.
“People didn’t know I was a singer or did music,” he says. “I liked going up there and being like, ‘hey, you know, check this out.’ It was really special – it was scary as hell but it was cool, you know, to be able to share the things you make.”
His summer will be full of sharing the songs he’s written as he performs at several music festivals across the country including Colwood’s Rock the Shores on July 18.
“I love performing at those things, they’re outdoors they’re beautiful, everybody’s having a good time. … I really like performing with my buddies, we just have a fun time.”
It’s his friends that keep Helman and his music honest, he says. “I see my friends when I’m back in Toronto. There’s no like ‘how’re you doing …’ it’s like ‘alright, let’s do it, let’s hang out.’ It’s great, they’re awesome. That stuff is the best for me, hanging out, girls also help,” he says with a laugh. “Just having a bonfire and hanging out, I’m sure three songs will come out of that.”
Rock The Shores
July 18 & 19