Scott Helman Stands Out

Published 01/01/2015 by Damn Magazine.

You can tell Scott is wiser than his years. At just 19 years old, Scott displays a mature vocal prowess and a confident stage presence. His talent, drive, and confidence are genuine, not staged — and it’s a welcome change in today’s world of manufactured teen hits. It’s this natural talent that makes his recording deal with Warner Music come as no surprise.

This maturity is also composed of an astute awareness of the human condition, one that comes out in songs such as the encouraging “Machine” and the escapist “Somewhere Sweet.” The latter was recorded at Toronto’s Supermarket, on Augusta, the street that shares a name with his debut EP. But Scott assured me, he’s not pushing a Toronto agenda:

“I just love Toronto,” he says, “I’m not like a Toronto rapping artist like Drake or anything, I just love the city and it’s where I’m from.”

Augusta has a few other connections for Scott, it’s where his band first played, he lived there for a time, and it’s the first place he ever played “That Sweater.” “So it wasn’t that I’m there all the time, but it’s like these accumulative moments of making my music have been on that street, so I don’t know, it just represented the record to me.”

Scott says he judges a song by the way it makes him feel when he’s finished it. And it’s for this reason that “Machine” is his favourite:

“That song I was like ‘holy shit, I don’t know how I just wrote that.'”

Scott wrote “Machine” after wanting to send a message of encouragement to his peers who were struggling with what we all go through: what to do with our lives.

“So that song was really important to me and I dunno it’s like a weird age being 18-19, people start going to school, and they start trying to figure out who they are, and you have a lot of friends that are like ‘I don’t know who I am’ and I just wanted to tell them it’s going to be alright, ‘cuz I’m lucky, I kinda’ know what I want to, but you know it’s weird when you have these friends who are like ‘I dunno what I wanna’ do with my life, and I dunno why I’m paying all this money to go get this education,’ and it’s like oh my god, like you’re gonna be OK, you’re not just a number. So that song was important personally for me.”

Despite its serious messages, the EP has listeners dancing to a quick beat, but things slow down a bit in “Cry Cry Cry” with an almost Caribbean calypso undertone, followed by the contemplative “Machine.”

Before you know it, you’re up and flipping the record, and for your efforts you’re rewarded with the full-bodied, all-smiles, upbeat “Tikka.”

After seeing Scott live with his band at Ottawa Winter Jazz fest, I grin at the memories of this group of talented youngsters, friends of Scott’s, that he’s bringing along for the ride of a lifetime.

Having had the privilege to see Scott live twice over the last year, I can see his fan base growing. Although those screaming for autographs and singing along are around Scott’s age, I encourage the older demographics to give him a listen. You may be surprised to find that behind this young musician is an old soul spreading a sweet wisdom with a talent that’s also beyond his years.

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