INTERVIEW: Scott Helman

Hailing from Toronto, Canada, singer/songwriter Scott Helman was recently in Montreal for a live show at l’Astral downtown to promote the release of his debut record ‘Hotel de Ville’. The musician has been making waves in music ever since his first single, Bungalow, was nominated for Best Pop Video at the 2015 MMVA’s. The song was later certified Gold. Later that same year, Helman won Spotify’s first-ever Emerge program, a 13-week contest with 12 other contestants. Since then, he’s toured with Walk Off the Earth, been nominated for 2 JUNO’s in 2016, and performed at the JUNO’s ceremony in the same year. More recently in early 2017, Helman performed a rendition & tribute of ‘Bird on a Wire’ by Leonard Cohen in front of 50,000 people in Montreal.

Montreal holds a special place in Helman’s heart, who spent almost 2 months living here writing his new album ‘Hotel de Ville‘. I had the chance to catch up with Scott at l’Astral to chat about his record, his tour, and share some of the music he’s been playing as he travels across the country!

ITA: How are you liking Montreal?

SCOTT: I love it here, it’s like a second home for me. I lived here for almost 2 months when I wrote my album at ‘Hotel de Ville’ near the Mile-End. I lived in this awful Air BnB, but it was great. I’ve been coming here since I was 17-18. I live on the via rail!

ITA: And how’s your tour going?

SCOTT: Awesome! Other than our bus breaking down in Belleville, it’s been amazing. The shows have been awesome, I have the best fans.

ITA: Is there a stand-out night so far?

SCOTT: Every night is great, but playing Toronto is pretty special for me because it’s my home and I’ve dreamed of headlining that venue in some capacity, so doing that was pretty sweet. Ottawa was pretty sweet too.

ITA: I feel like Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal are always pretty solid shows with good crowds.

SCOTT: Montreal is always an amazing crowd, one of the best. I think it’s because the rent here is so cheap. People are happier. When they go to shows, they aren’t thinking about where that money could have gone the way people are in other cities where rent is twice the price!

ITA: That’s very true. Prices in Toronto and Montreal aren’t comparable at all! Let’s talk about your debut album, ‘Hotel de Ville’. Which song was the one that you wrote the quickest?

SCOTT: Not counting the introduction song, I would probably say Gaslight. I was treated really terribly by someone in my life, and the moment that I realized what was happening, I just needed to write about it, and it came pretty quickly.

ITA: Which is the song that means the most to you today?

SCOTT: This is so hard! I’d have to say Ripple Effect right in this moment, but it changes all the time.

ITA: Which is your favorite to play live, and why?

SCOTT: It’s tough to say, because I really feel like the whole set tells a story, each song really flows into the next. I absolutely love playing all of my songs right now, it’s so fun to make my way through each one. I’m really loving Ripple Effect right now though!

ITA: If you could describe your album in ONE word, what would it be?

SCOTT: Healing. That feels a bit cheesy, but that’s how it feels to me right now.

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ITA: Let’s play a fun little game with your songs. I’ll name you a song from your album, and you tell me a story, sentence, word, anything at all that the song makes you think about! The first song is ‘Chinese Restaurant’.

SCOTT: This song is literally about a beautiful girl. You know those sketchy restaurants you go to at 2am? I went into my favourite Chinese restaurant just like that one night, and I was too nervous to talk to her. So I wrote this song about her instead!

ITA: PDA.

SCOTT: This is just a super fun song about making out. I was saying goodbye to my girlfriend one day at the train station and I just wanted to kiss her. Long distance relationships are this weird balance between love and total anxiety about what the other person might be up to. This song encompasses all of that. It’s about all the fun you have in a relationship, but in the background of the song is my anxiety and me over-thinking the long distance part of my relationship! I love the balance in this song.

 


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ITA: let’s talk about some of your fun tour must-haves. What can you not live without on tour?

SCOTT: Wine *laughs, Redbull… No I have to stop drinking that, it’s so bad for you. Definitely wine though, I also like to have fruit backstage, and nicotine *laughs*. Playing cards are good too. And a good book. Okay I gave you 5, I can’t cut it down more!

ITA: What music are you currently listening to?

SCOTT: Alvvays, they’re new album is incredible. I almost hate listening to them because they’re just so fucking good. Every song on that album is amazing- especially the last track. Courtney Barnett is really great, I’m always listening to Paul Simon, a lot of Billy Joel recently actually! I like him a lot.

ITA: What musical inspiration in your career would your career not exist without?

SCOTT: Honestly, Simon Wilcox who I write with, Tawgs Salter, and Ron Lipada, I wouldn’t be anything without them. They really showed me how to take my art and make it what it is now. They gave me the tools to do that. In terms of musicians; Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Damien Rice was really important for me, a lot of pop-punk for me: Blink-182, Sum 41, I love that stuff. And the radio. I know it’s not something people say a lot, but just listening to pop music. That universal experience of just enjoying music is something that I’ve always loved. Combining the indie and the pop is something that has always been really fun for me.

Scott will be back near Montreal on November 28th, catch him at Le Club, Square DIX30 with Jonathan Roy! Tickets are available right here.

Learn more about Scott Helman: 

www.scotthelmanmusic.com

www.facebook.com/scotthelmanmusic

www.twitter.com/scotthelman

Melissa Payette

Melissa is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Into The Airwaves. She is a graduate in Business Management from Concordia and currently works full-time as an account manager at a Marketing agency, with a specialization in affiliate marketing. After being an editor for MTL Blog for a year & an editor-in-chief at Confront Magazine for 5+ years, it was time to branch out and start her own little space on the internet. When she’s not at work, Melissa loves to fill her free time with more of what she loves: reading, traveling, learning new skills, going to concerts, and of course writing! You can keep up with Melissa on her many adventures on Instagram: @mliss024. Happy reading!

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