Although many artists today struggle to live up to the flawless vocals of a pre-recorded album in their live performances, Scott Helman is an exception to the rule.
Completing his current album tour, Helman played at the Mansion last Saturday to a packed crowd of dedicated fans singing along.
Hailing from Toronto, Helman released his debut EP, Augusta, in 2014. Three years later, he is back with a full album, Hôtel de Ville. With the new album, Helman is no longer an opening act but a main stage performer.
“I feel like I don’t have to hold back as much because I’m not introducing myself to people. Once you have an audience that understands you, that’s when you can take risks and that’s when you can take an extra-mile and do something that they may not have expected,” he said.
Helman said that his fan base made him more comfortable with taking creative risks on his new record.
Like Augusta, Hôtel de Ville is named after a specific place — the apartment he lived in Montreal and where all of the stories from this album took place.
Helman wants to continue writing music about his life because he believes that in the end, his goal as an artist is to write things that are true — and usually about his neighbourhood.
However, Helman worries what is true to him may not be relatable to others his age, many of whom are pursuing a post-secondary education rather than touring around the world.
But he doesn’t seem too worried. Scott Helman produces music that is about new experiences. It’s about moving, friendships, heartbreaks, falling in love with strangers and more.
“I think everybody feels that they missed out on something and I think it’s important to know that I can’t change that; but at the same time, I don’t want to change that. Do I feel like I missed out? Yes. Do I care? No, because I’m so happy.”
Although this may be true, when asked what he would have pursued if not music, he said he would have gone to University for Art History, International Relations or Communications Theory. He may not be doing any of these, but they have influenced his music, revealing that sometimes he uses his book on artist Marcel Duchamp to help him write.
“My art keeps me grounded” Scott said. “If my life was so up and down and fake all the time, I wouldn’t have the ability to write about music because it wouldn’t be about anything.”
He added that he’s lucky: his band mates are his best friends and his mom is always just a phone call away.
“I think a lot of our idols are caught up in this idea that their lifestyle has to be crazy in order to be successful,” he said. “I’m just concerned about making great music and trying to do that first.”
It can sometimes be difficult to picture performers in a “normal” situation — whatever that may be — but Helman’s concert was reminiscent of a house party, especially with it taking place on the second floor of The Mansion.
He was simply jamming with his schoolmates in a run-down house on Princess Street — alcohol and drunk girls included. Although he skipped out on the opportuinty four years ago, travelling to Kingston provided him with a snapshot of University life.
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