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Helena May: “Be true to who you are as an artist”

It’s not easy to come across real musicianship these days; at a time when studio work can hide a good amount of flaws or shortcomings, it takes particular dedication to scout authentic, talented performers, able to flourish on the sole power of their artistry. Helena May belongs to such a category, boasting a powerful, evocative vocal tone that instantly captures anyone’s attention. 

Commonly navigating soul, jazzy and R&B territories, the London-based, Welsh songstress doesn’t shy away from the occasion pop anthem. ‘Puzzle Pieces’ is exactly that, a slice of positivity and uplifting energy delivered with the most relatable and melodious lyricism. It’s a joy to listen to, and a stark reminder of what true, committed musicianship can accomplish. 

Intrigued by May’s journey, we caught up with her to find out more about her artistry and future goals… interview below!

Hey Helena, how is it going? I am writing this interview while listening to your latest single ‘Puzzle Pieces’, and I must admit, it’s probably my favourite record from you so far! There’s a layer of luscious ‘disco-pop’ matter that infuses the track with so much energy and positivity. Is the upcoming album going in the same direction?

Hey Gabriel. Oh wow! Thank you so much, I really appreciate it. 🙂 I love creating positive flavours with my music. My hope is for honesty and relatability – that people can connect lyrically and discover their own sense of positive outcomes when listening. Oh and “yes” – there’s more to come and we’re still writing! I’m enjoying discovering the stories with this record.

You are obviously an extremely talented singer and musician; where do you find the inspiration that supports your songwriting effort? on that note, how did ‘Puzzle Pieces’ come about?

Thank you so much. When I look and listen – I find inspiration. I’ve found that songwriting can’t be forced – the ideas have to arrive when they decide to. With the song “Puzzle Pieces”, I was actually doing a jigsaw puzzle! Observing the act of turning each puzzle piece into its specific place, over time creating the full image – that’s where the idea came from.

Tell us about the REAL Helena May… what do you listen to in your free time? Do you fall back on jazz/soul classics? or do you like to experiment within contemporary settings?

I listen to a lot of Lofi chill playlists – easy listening, to calm the brain. I enjoy going to coffee shops, tuning into some ‘me time’ and writing poems which ultimately become the lyrics to my songs.

Do you feel more confident writing music alone, or within a team?

I love writing as a team! Bouncing off ideas is the best thing for me when creating new work. A new song idea usually comes from a vocal melody or poem I’ve written and then I’ll piece it together with Fabian (Producer – Sheep Hill Records) in his studio.

Your current work is the result of a long journey; What first drew you to making music?

As a young Helena – watching my Dad playing Bass in his band and listening to my Mum’s music collection – The Kinks, Santana, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin were some of my favourites. Later on (when I was twelve) – I pressed ‘play’ on Jamiroquai’s ‘A Funk Odyssey’ album and my whole world changed! Right there and then, I knew I wanted to be a Funk-Soul singer.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a fellow musician starting out in the industry, what would that be?

Be true to who you are as an artist and keep at it – it’s tough out there but it’ll be worth it!

I delved into your Spotify catalogue, and Helena May as an artistic project seems to have evolved a lot in the past few years. Is it all part of your personal growth as a creative? What’s your ultimate goal?

My work has definitely evolved over the years. I’ve worked with different producers and artists, each with their own style, creating what was fitting musically at that moment. For sure, personal-artistic growth has played a huge part in what I write now and what sound I want to create as ‘Helena May’. My heart will always be with Funk, Soul & Disco as I’m a huge fan of 90s/00s London Acid-Jazz/Funk. My hope is to create a new female, generational sound, inspired by that time.

What are the next steps for your project? Anything exciting on the horizon?

Lots of exciting live shows are lined up – I’ve just sung at Royal Albert Hall with Kokomo and Average White Band. What a night! I’m about to support Matt Johnson from Jamiroquai at Scala, London – I have always dreamed (since I was twelve) of singing my own music in front of Jamiroquai players! At the end of May, I’m performing some new ‘Helena May’ work at Ronnie’s Scott’s with W3 Funk and there are some really nice Summer Festival shows lined up. Oh, and new single releases! It’s all go and I wouldn’t change it for the world! I’m thankful for the adventure.


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