After closing out this year’s Ottawa’s CityFolk Festival with a highly energetic and impressive performance that swept away the captive audience, Scott Helman and his band are returning to the capital on Friday October 13 at The Bronson Centre. It will be the first show in a series of double-billed cross-Canada tour dates through October and November featuring fellow Canadian artist Ria Mae of Halifax with some guest performances by Quebec’s Jonathan Roy.
At age 15, Scott Helman began his road to success by impressing record executives at Warner Music Canada with his songs. Just a few years later, he blasted onto the global airwaves with his hit “Bungalow” from his debut CD Augusta, which went multi-platinum. Now 22, Helman has further cemented himself as a skilled and serious songwriter with the release of his second effort Hôtel de Ville.
There is a more diverse array of styles along with a rawer feel to this album, attributed to influences of songwriters like Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and Paul Simon, who dive deep to pen songs of life’s reflection that evoke human connection. From his heartfelt album teaser “21 Days” to the rhythmic bounce of songs “Sweet Tooth” and “Kites” to the uplifting airiness of first single “Kinda Complicated” to the infectiousness of second single “PDA” and the earnestness of my personal fave “Ripple Effect”, his latest work truly showcases his personal and professional growth as an established artist way beyond his years. And as I found out during our interview just before his CityFolk performance, he is as genuine and open-hearted in real life as he is on stage.
Apt613: Your album Hôtel de Ville was written in Montreal. What was it about Montreal that inspired you?”
Scott Helman: Montreal’s always been this haven for me. All my friends went to university there, so whenever I was down, sad or stressed out, I’d hop on the train and go visit them. It’s always been an outlet for me to explore ideas and a getaway from the bustle of Toronto. I’ve always felt like an artist there… there’s something about Montreal that makes me feel like a creator.
This record sounds much more diverse and raw this time around. Was this something you were striving for?
Yeah, I’m always striving for that – I think I’ll be striving for that more in the future as well. Because I really believe that right now that’s what people want to hear, and that’s what I want to hear. It’s real people saying what they feel.
This album seems like it was a catharsis for you. There’s a lot of emotional reflection, but also a strong sense of optimism.
Being 20 (I’m 22 now) was a weird time. I thought it was a time when I was supposed to have all my shit figured out. There were a lot of things that had happened to me in my life, that weighed me down. They were hurting me and I knew I had to get them dealt with or they were going to come back and bite me in the ass one day. I’m not saying I have it all figured out, but the decision to be in charge of my own health as a human was something I hadn’t believed in until then. Things can get messed up but I’ve given myself a break – it’s a part of who I am and something I’m going to accept rather than hate myself for it, which has given me a lot of power and strength. So yeah, I think that’s what the record really was for me.
Helman’s band of brothers, or “his boys” as he refers to them, are: Julian Psihogios (drums), Callum Maudsley (guitar), and Dylan Burrett (bass). Both Psihogios and Maudsley have been with him from day one and are also present on Hôtel de Ville. Together they have woven a tightly knit force of talent that is evident in their connection onstage, their seamless blend of musicianship, and their high energy shows which they now have become known for. Scott’s dynamic personality, his positively-charged music, and his love of performing come across in a strong give-and-take with the audience every time. Those that missed his show at CityFolk will now get a chance to experience it for themselves at the Bronson Centre.
Scott Helman performs at the Bronson Centre on Friday October 13 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $22.50 and are available online.