Having hit the ground running after winning Songwriter of The Year at Telstra Road to Discovery, Perth acoustic folk artist, Helen Shanahan has announced the release of her new single, Across The Sea (June 12) lifted from her third EP, Finding Gold, set for release on July 3. The story telling performer will celebrate her new releases with shows at Mojo's in Fremantle on July 9, The Newsagency in Sydney on July 14 and The Spotted Mallard in Melbourne on July 17.
First single, Across The Sea is inspired by Helen's personal struggle with anxiety and her day to day challenges of feeling overwhelmed and trying to overcome these hurdles. 'The song is calling out for someone to help guide me through the times of hardship," Helen explains. Helen's warm, lush vocal is perfectly complemented by nostalgic slide guitar that is dappled throughout the song, showcasing the delicacy of this poetic, uplifting folk country work of art.
Reflective of the song's metaphor, the clip for Across The Sea takes the viewer through different landscapes of Helen's journey, making her way through a forest and finally ending up at the sea. -Can't cross the water on my own, so who will build a ship for me, who will help me, across the sea,' Helen sings. The stunning clip was shot and directed by local Perth filmmaker Brendan Joel (Sam Perry, Jacob Diamond, Rainy Day Women) on location at the picturesque Cape Peron in WA.
Recorded across Melbourne, Nashville and Perth, Helen's new EP, Finding Gold was produced by AIR and APRA winner Pip Norman (Dan Sultan, Ash Grunwald, Daniel Merriweather), with the exception of Love Lost, which was produced by Neilson Hubbard in Nashville. Offering hope to listeners, Helen says, 'The main message throughout the EP is that you can still find moments of calm or 'gold' in everyday life."
Excited to perform her new music live around the country, Helen says, 'Although I still feel a lot of nerves and anxiety about performing and sharing my music, the love of it keeps me going, and I love the feeling of connecting with the audience and sharing my stories."
View the clip: Across The Sea
Listen to the EP: Finding Gold
Helen Shanahan Shows
Thurs 9 July| Mojo's Bar, Fremantle Wa | 18+
Tickets Available At The Door, 237 Queen Victoria Street North Fremantle
Sunday 12 July| Caves House, Yallingup Wa | 18+
Tickets Available At The Door, 18 Yallingup Beach Rd, Yallingup Wa 6282
Tues 14 July | The Newsagency, Marrickville Nsw | 18+
Tickets Available At The Door, Or Www.Thenewsagencyvenue.Com
Friday 17 July| The Spotted Mallard, Brunswick Vic | 18+
Tickets Available At The Door, Or Www.Spottedmallard.Com
Question: How does it feel to be the Telstra Road to Discovery winner for Songwriter of the Year (2014)?
Helen Shanahan: It still feels pretty unbelievable that I was the songwriter winner for the Telstra Road to Discovery in 2014. I had never really won anything before, so it came as a great surprise and I felt very honored. I formed some wonderful friendships in the competition, so it felt like I had a new network of not only great musicians, but great friends too.
Question: How would you describe your music?
Helen Shanahan: My music can be described as folk/pop with a strong acoustic feel. I try to write melodic songs that are easy on the ear, I am influenced by artists such as Joni Mitchell and Missy Higgins.
Question: What can you tell us about Across the Sea?
Helen Shanahan: 'Across The Sea' was written around the time I had won the Telstra Road to Discovery. I was feeling pressure to write well, and I was afraid that I didn't have it in me to be a singer/songwriter. I was feeling overwhelmed and anxious, and I think this song was written with these feelings in mind. I felt like I was trying to get through through a lot of self doubt, so the metaphor of trying to get 'across the sea' seemed fitting.
Question: How do you hope this song helps others with anxiety?
Helen Shanahan: I hope that this song can be a reminder that you are not alone in feeling this way, and that it's something that a lot of people go through on a day to day basis. I think that when you feel anxious, you can tend to think no one else can comprehend what you're feeling, so I hope that if anyone is suffering when they listen to the song, they can relate to it and feel like they are not alone.
Question: Did you have any pre-conceived ideas about the music industry?
Helen Shanahan: I guess I thought that people in the industry would try and change me and try and mold me into something I wasn't, however all the interactions I've had so far have been the complete opposite to that. I have found that instead of people trying to change me, I have just had so much encouragement and support.
Question: Do you write your own songs? What's your inspiration?
Helen Shanahan: I do write all my own songs. My inspiration mainly comes from my day to day interactions with other people, and certain situations that I find myself in. I find that my writing is quite therapeutic, and is also a good way for me to communicate as I am not always the best at saying how I feel in conversation.
Question: What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own?
Helen Shanahan: I love a lot of singer/songwriters such as Joni Mitchell, Missy Higgins, Patty Griffin and Kim Richey. I love any artist with a strong melody, and with lyrics that resonate with me. I love bands such as Fleetwood Mac, Crowded House and The Beatles. I like listening to a lot of different things, that's the great thing about music - there's always something new to listen to and enjoy!
Question: What's next? Tour/Album/Single?
Helen Shanahan: Coming up next, I am releasing my EP 'Finding Gold' on July 3rd which I am very excited about! It has been a long time in the making, so I can't wait to share the music with everyone. Following this release, I am heading on a small tour starting in Perth, then heading to the South West of Perth, then heading to Sydney and Melbourne.
Question: Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel?
Helen Shanahan: I must admit I have moments like that quite frequently!! I really have to keep telling myself to keep pushing on, even when times seem tough! I think that the love of music is what drives me to keep trying and to keep putting myself out there. Regardless of if I have any success, I try to remember that I love music and I'll always be lucky enough to play it and have it in my life.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Helen Shanahan: I think that I prefer performing live, as sometimes I can feel quite stressed trying to get the perfect take in the studio! There's something about interacting with a live audience as well, as you can connect with them and perform in the moment.
Question: What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Helen Shanahan: My biggest inspiration to go into the music industry, was listening to Australian artists like Missy Higgins and Clare Bowditch. They are such wonderful songwriters, and they were also so down to earth and just being true to themselves. This made me think that it could be possible for me to get out there, and see where it would take me.
Question: What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success?
Helen Shanahan: I think the biggest challenge has been a personal one, as I always battle with my own self doubt and nerves! I think that it will be something I'll always have with me, but learning to manage it has been a challenge.
Question: What's a typical day like?
Helen Shanahan: A typical day for me will most likely be teaching singing and guitar at a school I work at, then coming home and doing any e-mails I need to look at for booking gigs, and then doing some promotion (eg updating social media!). I try and write when my fiance' Matt is at work (I feel too nervous to write when he is there!!) and I try and see what I can come up with! I also usually take my dog Toby out for a walk and listen to music to try and give me some inspiration!
Question: What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist?
Helen Shanahan: My favourite part of becoming a music artist, is meeting all the amazing local acts in Perth and also over East. I think we have so many talented artists in Australia, and I feel so lucky to be hearing them and meeting them each week
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Helen Shanahan: If I could collaborate with anyone, it would probably be Missy Higgins as I am one of her biggest fans!! Although I may be too star struck to even talk to her so it may not go so well...haha!
Interview by Brooke Hunter