On translating moments into music with Helena Deans

Written on 05/29/2020
Julian Von Plato

Marie: Helena, how did you end up in London making music?

Helena: I always loved music and singing since I can remember! I started playing piano with my grandma in her living room in Denmark, she is a classical pianist and taught me to play my favourite Beethoven pieces by heart. Sadly I never learned how to read music for piano. I then started playing saxophone when I was 9 and sang in a choir. I picked up the electric guitar at the end of High School as well but the piano was always home for me. I learned how to play covers from YouTube videos and decided when I was 14 that music was the only right thing for me. I wanted to write about my own experiences and have my own voice so I applied to study songwriting as a degree in London. I released my first EP very quickly after I moved to London in 2017 and got my first band together gigging around London. Now I'm here :)

Marie: You’ve already released one EP and I know you have new music coming. Tell me about the recording process, who produced/engineered it and if they have any other successes? 

Helena: I have just filmed and recorded my 10 track live album with my trio in a warehouse in Reading! (We did it in one day!) The first video has just been released and I'm hoping to release a video every 3/4 weeks from now on! Harry Wrigley and Matt Noades who have recorded many Sofar Sounds videos recorded my album in their beautiful space. Joel Mayes and James Luxton, two of my favourite people I get to work with played the songs incredibly and I'm so proud to be working with such amazing musicians. My best friend from school came over from Amsterdam to film and I mixed the songs with one of my best friends - Jack Trouble who is also an insanely talented musician, songwriter and producer. 

Marie: What is the inspiration and the story behind the album? 

Helena: I decided to record a visual live album because I wanted to take things into my own hands; to showcase what we love and do as a trio - which is playing live! I wanted to connect with people in a different way and just make something that I truly love.

Marie: I feel like that says a lot about your writing process as well. Is it stream of consciousness type writing or more planned and thought out?

Helena: I tend to write lyrics first and then build the melody and chords at the same time. It feels like I'm creating a story rather than a structured verse/chorus layout. I prefer translating the moments of my life into music in that way! (That's why I love interludes and outros!!)

Marie: Where do you write and how does time or space influence you as a songwriter? 

Helena: I wrote the songs in my bedroom and arranged them with the trio after. I think feeling safe and being in your own space/home is the best place to write, because if you want to write something real, you need to be completely vulnerable and accept the creativity that comes from your emotions. My favourite songs I've written in 10 minutes and some other more musically technical ones take a little longer with a few drafts! 

Marie: What do you listen to or watch during the writing and recording process?

 A lot of gospel videos on YouTube and Friends. 

Marie: Where would you recommend we listen to the new album?

Wherever you like. Just enjoy it!

Marie: What would you like your music to inspire people to do?

Helena: Feel more and be okay with feeling all emotions at once.

Marie: What about your inspirations and musical influences? Are you hoping to achieve a certain sound or theme on your new release? 

Helena: The Yussef Kamaal Album, Badbadnotgood, Eliza and all the classic soul singers have definitely influenced me the most writing this album. James Luxton and Joel Mayes (the trio) have definitely helped me create the sound I always wanted.

Marie: What do you consider a success as an artist and what are yours? What are your aspirations? 

Helena: I just love to write and play music that makes me feel something. I think as an artist the only responsibility we have is to start a conversation and make connections with people. (Playing a massive stage at BST in Hyde Park last summer was pretty amazing too though!)

Marie: Anything else I should know about you?

Helena: I love bicycles, graphic design, fashion, psychology, movies, tea and the gym :)