Scott Helman never concentrated on or liked any extracurricular activity other than singing, playing guitar and writing songs. He tried karate and quit; did soccer and packed it in. But the guitar, he would play non-stop after school until bedtime.
“I think my parents knew from the start I wasn’t a normal kid,” says Helman, 19. “I didn’t go to math class. I was a little troublemaker. I liked art. I liked drawing and I liked singing and playing music. And my parents knew that.
“I think my parents knew from the start I wasn’t a normal kid.”
“They still said ‘You’ve got to be a reasonable human being and go to math class,’” he laughs. “They were just happy for me that I found something I loved doing.”
Helman, signed to Warner Music Canada, released his seven-song melodic pop debut EP, Augusta, produced by Thomas “Tawgs” Salter, in October of 2014, and at press time had just returned from a 14-date U.S. tour with Walk Off The Earth. Days later, he was in Ridgeway, Ontario, near Fort Erie, to write songs with Warner’s Vice President of A&R, Ron Lopata, who once made the teen write a song a day for 10 days, with Salter and Simon Wilcox..
Lopata, a musician and producer formerly of Jacksoul, first heard Helman’s music from League of Rock founder Terry Moshenberg, who managed him until after his signing. He’s now represented by Alison Taylor at Irving Azoff Music.
Helman, then a 15-year-old visual arts student at Earl Haig Secondary School, had started writing songs around age 12. He says they weren’t very good, crammed with multiple ideas in one song. After he performed for Lopata at his downtown studio – a session Lopata recorded – Helman then showcased for “the Warner peeps” at their north Toronto headquarters.
“I brought in my notebook of songs and pages were falling out,” Helman recalls. “I just opened it up and played a tune and then I played the next one. And it went from there.” One of those tunes was “That Sweater,” which now appears on Augusta in an updated and refined version, and is the EP’s second single after “Bungalow.”
Warner initially gave Helman a development deal and hooked him up with numerous writers, first with Warner artist Kai, then with Wilcox, whom he calls “a pivotal figure in getting me signed” based on the demos they did together for “That Sweater,” “Somewhere Sweet,” “Memories” and another song.
Once signed, he went to Vancouver for two weeks to write with 54.40’s Dave Genn, Ryan Stewart (Carly Rae Jepsen), Jeff Dawson (Daniel Powter) and Howard Redekopp (Mother Mother). “It was this big exploration time,” says Helman. “I was just taking all these people’s tricks, to be honest with you. I wasn’t stealing anything, but they have their process, and it was inspiring to see how they worked.”
Learning to focus on one idea and not get too complicated, he’s now working on songs for a full album.
“At the end of the day, it’s a confidence thing,” Helman says. “You have to have confidence in yourself that how you sound naturally is real and good and cool. You don’t have to try so hard to be interesting. And I think there’s a fine line between sounding smart and being smart.”
- Helman has toured with Walk off the Earth in the U.S. and performed at the 2015 MuchMusic Video Awards.
- “I’m a really bad driver. I’m way too A.D.D. When I’m in the car, it’s my chance to listen to the radio and I don’t focus on what’s around me, so I try not to drive as much as possible. It’s not my thing.”
- “I like painting. They are big abstract, crazy weird paintings.”
Discography: Augusta (EP, 2014)
Member since 2013