Canadian Musician - May/June 2017 - Page 34

Scott Helman By Andrew King. Photos by Neal Burstyn, Scott Helman Is Ready to Rule with Hôtel de Ville “An audience wants to see someone cooler than them doing some- thing cooler than they’re capable of doing.” That’s a quote from Luther Mallory, a music performance coach and self-titled stage psychologist. (He’s also a lot of other things, in- cluding a longtime Canadian Musician contributor.) It’s an interesting way to think about performance and how we’re drawn to certain people, and the more you do, the more you come to realize it carries a lot of truth – especially if you’re willing to broaden your definition of “cool.” In this context, it can mean suave; it can mean skillful, smart, serious, even scary. If you subscribe to the school of Nardwuar or Na- poleon Dynamite, it can even be paradoxical. But sometimes, it’s just classic, dictionary-definition cool – the Scott Helman kind. The way this young artist propelled up the ranks of the music industry on the back of his debut EP, 2014’s Augusta, and its mega- sticky mega-single “Bungalow” proved he has that intangible some- thing that turns “talented” into “impossible to ignore.” 34 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N He’s got the look – a hybrid kind of handsome that’s part boy band innocence, part rock star rebellion; a sweet, disarming smile with James Dean’s weighty gaze. His inked sleeves and tattered den- im belie his small, slender frame, though what he lacks in stature he more than makes up for in character and charisma. Reading through some of his social media posts or catching him in conversation, it’s quickly made clear that he’s contemplative and well read. That’s also evident in his lyrics, which are surprisingly sub- stantial considering how memorable they can be, coupled with the fact that they’re typically anchored by sugary pop melodies. All together, it’s the classic the makings of a music industry suc- cess story but with a character that seems effortlessly able to navigate its new paradigm, and with his breakout coming on the back of just a single EP, that story already has a compelling opening chapter. Now, with the upcoming release of his debut full-length, Hôtel de Ville, the next one is getting underway.