Interview with Scott Helland, Conclusion

Airship Ambassador: What do you find most rewarding about what you do?

Scott Helland: Sharing music and art with people is what life is all about for me. That connection. Creativity is my religion and I worship daily.

 

AA: Composing and writing can be a challenge some days. What are some of your methods to stay motivated and creative?

SH: I actually just try and let it flow. I try not to push it. You’ve just got to be real and know that the universe will take care of it, and it always does.

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AA: Most of the people I’ve talked with have some type of day job and that being creative is their other job. What has that situation been for you and how has it helped/hindered begin an artist?

SH: I’m a full time musician/artist, I have no other job or means to make a living besides music and drawing. When I moved to NYC in the late `80’s it was very tough to live from playing in bands, so I got temp jobs. I ended up at one for about 7 years. Getting a job was probably one of the worst things I could have done. I worked on music the whole time I was doing it of course, I put out several records during this time but I just feel like it was soul sucking and was a complete fucking waste of time and energy and spirit.

So now Samantha and I feel blessed to be able to do this, it can be tough but we’re grateful we get to do what we love. We’ve worked very hard over the last 15 years.

 

AA: Do people outside the steampunk, and music communities recognize you for your work? What kind of reactions have you received?

SH: Frenchy and the Punk is very lucky in that we are able to play in a lot of different situations and different venues. We didn’t start in the steampunk community, the steampunks found us. We just do what we do. We’ve gone over at folk festivals, indie rock shows and played with many different styles of bands. I think people pick up on the energy and passion of what we do.

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AA: Looking beyond steampunk, music, and working, what other interests fill your time?

SH: Samantha and I follow a lot of the current environmental issues, and basically live our lives with that in mind. As far as what we put in our bodies and in the ground and how we treat other living things. I guess we just try and be good to the earth and all of it’s creatures.

 

AA: How do those interests influence your work?

SH: It’s symbiotic.

 

AA: Are there people you consider an inspiration, role model, or other motivating influence?

SH: People who are doing great things to try and help the world be a more kind and compassionate place… everyday folks that just try and bring some love and light into the world.

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AA: What event or situation has had the most positive impact in your life? What has been your greatest challenge? 

SH: I think one ‘event’ that happened that was the most challenging was when my dad passed away when I was a 15 year old in high school. It blew my whole world apart. I dove head first into playing punk rock and never looked back. I remember at that age feeling like -whoa, this life can get hard and kick you in the face, you better try and enjoy the little things. Do what it is in your heart to do.- It probably cemented the idea of being a musician for me. Just do what you love, cause life is short.

 

AA: Three quick fire, random questions – what is your favorite  music of the 1800s, pastry, and flower?

SH: The musical sound that the owls made in Mark Twain’s backyard, blueberry muffins and marigolds.

 

AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers

SH: Thanks for the opportunity to answer some questions we always appreciate the exposure and being able to share more with people. I thank each and every person who reads this and supports the creative community at large. Music and art are good for you. Do what you love, love what you do, be good to others and listen to Frenchy and the Punk. ; )

 

Thanks, Scott, for joining us for this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts.  We look forward to hearing about your next projects!

 

Until then, keep up to date with news on their website.

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Published in: on March 23, 2016 at 8:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Scott Helland, Part 3

Welcome back for part three in our talk with Scott Helland, the Punk in the music duo, Frenchy and the Punk.

Part one can be read here.

Part two can be read here.

 

Airship Ambassador: What are some memorable fan reactions to your work which you’ve heard about?

Scott Helland: One thing I hear a lot is, your music lifted me out of a deep depression. We also get, ‘when I wanna do something and get it done, I listen to Frenchy and the Punk. We get a lot of people who clean their house to us! We have an amazing community of fans that are very supportive. I might be in a gutter without them.

 

AA: Clearly, I know what I need to listen to now when cleaning! What kind of attention have your songs and live performances generated?

SH: One interesting bit of attention we’ve gotten from the recorded music is that it has been used on several TV shows. Like the Oprah show, the History channel, the Discovery channel, HGTV, Dance Moms, NY Ink, Vice News and a few others I can’t think of right now. We tend to get other show offers while playing events and conventions which is just awesome too.

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AA: That’s definitely some nice usage and recognition. Can you share anything about what is coming up next?

SH: Well, as we do this interview now it’s Dec 2015, so coming up next year we already have 30 or so dates booked. We’re doing the Steampunk World’s Fair again in NJ, Festival of Legends in NC, Spoutwood and Maryland Faerie festivals, and an East coast tour with The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing in the spring that my very own Frenchy booked. I’ll probably do some more Deep Wound reunion stuff with guys from Dinosaur jr at some point too. Also, I’ll be doing some more solo shows and hopefully my second art book will be out. I just released my first art book called Feast. It’s a collection of over 50 pen and ink drawings that are very nature based. The work is all about connection. Guitars, trees and the human form blended in a mythical way. I want to finish a new solo record and of course fans await a new Frenchy and the Punk CD!

 

AA: Never a dull moment. How do people find you and your work – conventions, website, word of mouth, etc?

SH: We have played almost every steampunk convention in the United States and a bunch in Europe. We’ve done close to a 1000 shows together, so people can definitely find us at conventions and different alternative music venues. There’s always frenchyandthepunk.com and the usual social media outlets. We’re on most of `em.

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AA: Every creative person I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their works come to fruition. What was your experience like?

SH: I have a very old school punk DIY ethic, almost to a fault. If I want to do something I just work on it until it’s done. I do it myself I don’t wait for help. It’s always worked. My dad used to say just do the work and make it happen for yourself don’t wait for someone to do it for you. But sometimes we need help… so DIY isn’t always the best thing.

 

AA: If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing now?

SH: Drawing and drinking

 

AA: What do you do to keep a balance between music and the rest of your life?

SH: Huh?, Music is life!

 

AA: HA! Who needs balance?! Do you get to talk much with other musicians to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?

SH: We do a lot of events, so we see a lot of bands but there really isn’t a lot of time to really sit down and talk except for at musician panels at conventions, those are fun for the bands AND the audience! So we kinda compare notes there.

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AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?

SH: I’ve become more relaxed, more open to new things. But even that is a day by day thing. You can definitely hear a progression with the dozen or so records I’ve done over the FnP and solo years. My guitar playing is better, more fluid. Our songwriting and arrangements are better. It’s awesome to see and feel the change personally as a musician. We tour smarter not harder now too. We used to burn ourselves to the bone on the road. We’d come home after 5 months straight and be beaten physically and emotionally. It can be grueling out there being a DIY band. We’re better at it now.

 

We’ll pause here in talking with Scott.

Join us next time when he talks about interests, inspiration, and integration.

Until then, keep up to date with news on their website.

Published in: on March 22, 2016 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Scott Helland, Part 2

Welcome back for part two in our talk with Scott Helland, the Punk in the music duo, Frenchy and the Punk.

Part one can be read here.

 

Airship Ambassador: There’s never enough space for everything. What elements were originally part of Bonjour Batfrog which didn’t make it into the final compilation?

Scott Helland: I think if I remember correctly, we wrote 11 songs and knew we had the album. It was very pure and organic. We just knew we had it. Samantha may have a different take on this in her interview though.

 

AA: What is the song creation process? Is there a chicken and egg process with the music and the lyrics?

SH: I play guitar all the time. Walking around backstage, in hotel rooms, highway rest stops, at home etc… so I’m constantly coming up with riffs and melodies. Sometimes Samantha will just hear it and say keep playing and lyrics come to her like they are attached to it. Sometimes a song will just start with her humming a melody and a few hours later it’s a new song.

So there’s no specific process. We basically let the universe, the muse, whatever you want to call it, guide us. It’s kind of a mystical thing. Sometimes we think, ‘how did we write this?’ There are songs on some of my solo CDs from 15 years ago that I don’t even know how I wrote them or even how to play them anymore.

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AA: That’s an interesting example of how we live, create and do, and move on. We keep changing in our lives, and so does what we make. What instruments do you use regularly?

SH: I primarily play and write on guitar, and after that I play the drums most. Which is odd because I started out as a bass player and I loved the bass but I rarely play it these days except for recording and the occasional sit-in with another band. As far as brands?

These days I only use Godin Guitars. They’re a Canadian guitar maker that specializes in acoustic/electric hybrid guitars. Perfect for what we do. They have a bright clean acoustic sound, yet they have bite and power.

 

AA: Any that you’d like to use more? Or never again?

SH: I’d love to get a Taylor T5, I’d love to get a few more Godins. Newer ones, mine are all from the 90’s. I also play Fender Precision basses… Hmmm, we need new drums too.

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AA: Time for some patrons! How would you describe your style? What were your influences early on to create it?

SH: Frenchy and the Punk is folk punk cabaret. With the acoustic guitar sound it brings in the folk feel, and we have punk-ish energy, especially live, and there is a big European cabaret vibe to what we do, no doubt from Samantha’s background, the fact that we’re a duo and I’ve always loved that Eastern European gypsy style guitar, Spanish guitar.

I grew up listening to punk rock, metal, post punk gothic stuff, singer songwriters etc and my parents took me to numerous Jazz concerts. They cranked Django Reinhardt and Count Basie at home and I cranked the Ramones, Motorhead, The Cure and everything in-between. I saw Michael Hedges in college and he blew me away with what he could do with an acoustic guitar.

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AA: I still love listening to the Ramones. You definitely have great energy on stage, when I’ve seen you play. It’s infectious and the crowd certainly gets swept up in it. What can you tell us about the title song from Hey Hey Cabaret?

SH: We wrote it in our kitchen in 2012. We DID actually set out to write something upbeat that day and I think we hit the mark. So I guess there was a theme with this one… and it was about letting loose and letting it all out, gleeful abandon at a masquerade ball. It’s rhythmic, driving and was a huge audience fav as soon as we played it live.

 

AA: It’s very catchy, and I find it popping into mind on occasion. Thanks, earworm! What can you tell us about Forever and Ever MC Escher from Bonjour Batfrog?

SH: I wrote the music and was jamming on some of the chord sequences and when Samantha heard it, MC Escher came to her mind right away. She looked at my book of his drawings and did a stream of consciousness description. The lyrics are so beautiful describing all his amazing artwork.

After Samantha wrote all the lyrics and vocal melody I came up with the title. It’s one of our best songs, we’re very proud of it. It’s a bit a of a different sound for us with a bit more of an indie pop feel. We filmed a video for it in France last year that will be released in 2016.

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AA: Escher really is great, and a bit mind bending. What is one of the most memorable songs for you and why?

SH: Most memorable Frenchy and the Punk song? Well, these days, and especially live, it’s Fe Fi Fo Fum off the Bonjour Batfrog CD.

Lyrically, it’s about a big evil giant and a call to action to protect the environment. Musically, I feel like it pretty much encompasses what I set out to do after I stopped playing bass guitar in loud punk rock and metal bands and that was to capture that energy with an acoustic guitar in a duo setting.

The song is powerful live and it’s just so much fun to perform. Samantha’s vocals soar and it’s got this simple punky tri-tone riff in it with a melodic minor lead melody in the middle. Audiences really love it too, I love seeing people chant Fe Fi Fo Fum. Though Dark Carnivale off the Happy Madness CD is probably our most requested song so that’s probably one of the most memorable for the fans.

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AA: When people listen to and enjoy your songs, what would you like for them to take away from it?

SH: My first answer is always, whatever people want. I’ve heard people say that Its very soul nurturing music and there’s a blissful happy quality to it, it makes people feel good and there’s nothing wrong with that. There is a lot of doom and gloom in the world. We like to take people away from that for an hour or so. Uplift… and feel it viscerally. Certain music does that for me as well. It uplifts so I can get out there and deal with this crazy life.

 

AA: What kind of writing, practicing, and editing went into creating each CD compilation to convey the desired message and feelings?

SH: We worked very intensely on Bonjour Batfrog. We had a few tunes that were written from the previous year but most of the tunes were finished and written and arranged when we did 12 to 15 hour days in March of 2014. We recorded it in April and May that same year.

I can’t really describe the process. It’s a complete mind warp, of mostly highs, some lows… it’s a creative emotional roller coaster kind of thing. We also had meetings with and worked with a new producer, Jason Rubal over at Seventh Wave in PA. He’s worked with Amanda Palmer and a bunch of other cool bands. We previously worked with Gary Levitt at Young Love Studio in Brooklyn.

 

We’ll pause here in talking with Scott.

Join us next time when he talks about upcoming projects and fan reactions.

Until then, keep up to date with news on their website.

Published in: on March 21, 2016 at 7:32 pm  Comments (1)  
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