Scott Helman talks Hôtel De Ville with the newspaper
Image Courtesy of Scott Helman's Website
Once upon a time, what feels like a million years ago, a friend of mine turned to me in my dorm room and told me that his best friend was the drummer in a band. “Everyone has a friend in a band”, I thought as he pulled up some YouTube videos. The artist whom his friend played for was Scott Helman and at that time he was an up and coming Toronto singer, just on the brink of releasing his first EP Augusta (2014). Fast forward a few months and his single “Bungalow” would be sung by all of my friends as we drove our parents’ cars around Muskoka all summer. I soon fell in love with the entire album, playing it over and over again, each song painting pictures of a city I was just learning to call home.
Three years later, I decided it was time I met the individual on the other side of the recording. This came to me as an invite to an open practice with Scott and his band. Tucked away in a little abandoned chapel in Scarborough, I found myself and a few dozen high schoolers enjoying an intimate practice and performance with Scott Helman in preparation for his latest release Hôtel De Ville (2017). Scott performed four songs off the album including his first single “Kinda Complicated” and the stand out “PDA”. Following the performance, Scott took the time to answer the high schoolers’ questions.
I caught up with Scott after his performance to chat about the inspiration for his upcoming album. Oh, and we also entered the dangerous territory of Toronto vs. Montreal. Find out what he has to say below and check out Hotel de Ville which is out now!
the newspaper: So you were in Montreal when you wrote this album, is that right?
Scott Helman:I moved to Montreal after my last tour for Augusta (2014). I basically went there to get back together with my girlfriend who I dated in high school because I was still super in love with her. That is what transpired and made this album work in a really weird way.
tn: What is Hôtel De Ville?
SH: It is this street in Montreal. So my first record was Augusta and then my second record is Hôtel De Ville Ave in Montreal which is the street of the apartment. I thought it was nice to continue the trend.
tn: Are you going to continue it beyond this album?
SH: I don't know, people keep asking me that. I don’t even know what I am doing tomorrow. Like, hopefully I guess.
tn: That means you have to go someplace else then.
SH: Yeah who knows. Maybe I don’t want to pigeonhole myself.
tn: What's the biggest difference between Augusta and Hôtel De Ville?
SH: There is just more shit on it, there is more me, I feel like there was a deeper level of connection to songs involved. Just more me. I felt like I was really able to branch out and really create the things I wanted to create that I maybe didn’t get the chance to on Augusta. I was able to showcase all aspects of my musical tastes. All the flavours that I like I was able to put on there.
tn: Well, because Augusta was quite short, this length would allow for a wider array.
SH: More time as well. I already had the foundation of my craft. Augusta really was written as I was figuring out who the fuck I was. I felt like I built a house and it was the perfect house to write this next record in.
tn:Toronto or Montreal, which do you prefer?
SH: Oh I can’t pick. I like Montreal and I like Toronto for reasons.
tn: That’s a great answer…
SH: The thing I love about Montreal is its culture. The thing I love about Toronto is that the culture is a mosaic. For example, you can go to Kensington Market and experience one thing and then you go to Chinatown and experience that thing, then you can go to Little Italy and experience that. You can’t really do that in Montreal. But, the really great thing about Montreal is that there is an overlying beauty of it found in the French Canadian culture. There is also this slow delicacy. There is a delicacy to the way people live and I think that people have a lot more patience for art and creation. In Toronto, I feel like things have to be manufactured more and it is more fast-paced. I like both of those things. I have a personal connection with both cities. I was raised in Toronto and I fell in love with my girlfriend in Montreal. How can you choose between those two?