At 19 most of us are completing our first year of university or college wondering if the program we are in is even right for us. For Toronto born singer-songwriter Scott Helman, this is not the case.
Helman will be embarking on his second tour, but first with a full band, this spring, opening for Colin James and will be bringing his songs from his first EP (extended playlist) Augusta with him.
Helman isn’t a stranger to Ottawa but did visit Parliament for the first time February 13 after a solid breakfast in his hotel downtown, and before his radio interview.
His EP Augusta, inspired by the streets of Kenzington Market can also be attributed to The Supermarket. It is in the heart of the marked and Helman and his band mates took over a month of open-mic nights at there.
“It’s just this awesome place. We did a residency, so we played every Sunday for a month. It’s just an awesome place that artists can go for open mics and talk, get drinks, hang out,” says Helman.
Being able to hold his EP was a highlight for him. “The coolest thing was the vinyl,” says Helman. “When I see a vinyl I think of it as a real record.”
“We’d go in, put down some drums and stuff, write and then record,” says Helman on the recording process of the EP, which only took about two months to complete.
Although he is young, he shows his maturity in the importance of the kind of people he keeps around him. It is easy to tell that Helman takes things seriously.
“Nobody can be there that’s not working. That’s the only thing for me; I have to have everybody in the room to be working hard. I don’t need like a decafe latte,” he adds laughing.
In terms of song writing Helman has gotten incredibly lucky, getting to work with one of Canada’s best, Simon Wilcox. Most recently she was one of the writers on the song Jealous, which is sung by Nick Jonas.
“I’ve been working with her since I got signed with Warner, she helped me with my first couple demos, which got me signed,” Adding “She is I think honestly the most talented writer I’ve ever met. She’s insane. I felt like a writer when I was working with her.
One of the specific instance in which Wilcox showed her talents working with Helman was with his song Tikka.
“What happened with Tikka was we had this chorus that we really liked, and we had these versus that weren’t good. So I went outside for a cigarette and Simon came and we were sitting down and I was trying to think about this girl. I was trying to imagine what was happening (in the song). SO I was like ‘I’m walking down the street, this guy almost hit me with his car, and he’s got a funny mustache’ and I just say this whole story, and she’s like ‘can you just write this down word for word’”
From that point they went back into the studio and kept working until Wilcox hands him back the piece of paper with his story written on it and tell him to sing.
“I was like, but it doesn’t rhyme.”
Wilcox’s response, “Just sing it like Paul Simon.” And so he did.
If he was in school today instead he figures he would be taking some kind philosophy or communications course. He had planned on going to Concordia for communications.
“I wouldn’t take music, I was in an arts program in high school. I wanted to create art, and be a songwriter and an artists, I didn’t feel like playing other peoples music.”
Helman spent his Valentine’s Day evening entertaining a crowd at the Dominion-Chalmers United Church as part of Ottawa’s Winter Jazz festival. Later that night he was part of a Lenard Cohen tribute. Helman will spend March and April in cities like Burlington, Brockville and Thunder Bay, but until next time listen for his single Bungalow on local Ottawa radio stations.