Photos and Words by Audrey Lew
By audreylew |
February 28, 2019 at 1:00 PM
As fans, we often think artists move slowly. It sometimes takes them a year or more to put out an album, months to announce a tour, and weeks to put out a music video. However, an artist is always working to create and market the art they produce. Although Scott Helman would usually be catching some Zs and preparing for a show, on the day we met the Canadian singer-songwriter was up early—running around New York City to do press before heading back to Toronto. I got to spend that day talking with him about: his plans when he finally has time to relax, what keeps him grounded, and why he is so keen to help others through his platform Solve The Solvable.
My time with Scott started right after his performance on Good Morning America with Walk Off The Earth. I met up with him and his team at their first press stop near Times Square, which we both somehow got lost trying to find. I was greeted by Scott who said, “We’re hanging out today!” I smiled and said, “Yes we are!” We headed up to the office where Scott would be doing the interview. While we waited, he explained how he was excited to celebrate the end to his whirlwind month of touring and traveling, “I’m going to party tonight!”
After wrapping up his first promo stop we decided to walk to the next interview, since it was weirdly warm for a December afternoon. As we made our way Scott stopped, in the middle of writing an email, to share a fun fact about NYC street food. While pointing to a cart that sold roasted chestnuts he said, “Those are really good but they give you gas.” I couldn’t help but giggle. It’s clear Scott’s light-hearted energy makes everyone around him smile especially when he cracks jokes.
While walking, I asked Scott what would be the first thing he’d do once he got home. “I’m going to play video games for like a day,” he said. Despite a plethora of new and exciting games out Scott said he would rather revisit Bioshock. After he explained the concept behind the game we chatted about the new version of Smash Bros. for the Nintendo Switch. In a split second of mentioning the game he pulled out his neon green and pink console. He said he had unlocked a ton of characters already and really enjoyed how similar it was to the original but with added twists and features.
Once we reached Scott’s next interview stop, he went to freshen up as we waited for the journalist to meet us. We were escorted in rather quickly and, since everyone else’s hands were full, I picked up Scott’s guitar for him. Everyone joked that I was their roadie for the day. Coffee and drinks were being served in the kitchen but there was also a cereal bar. Scott ran to it and was enamored by the selection—however he made sure we knew his favorite was Cinnamon Toast crunch (best served with almond milk by the way).
As Scott worked, I took a few minutes to reflect on the day so far. This was a one-off type of schedule but it was already insanely busy even without having to play a show. The life of a touring musician always seems so simple from the outside but it’s clearly not the case. This one day alone was filled with interviews, commuting, answering emails between promo stops, and coordinating collaborations. It’s amazing you can even fit this much in a day but Scott Helman somehow managed to.
Within the hour we wrapped up his last promo stop and headed to Brooklyn to get some much needed pizza at Roberta’s. Despite the day technically being over, there was still work to be done. On our Uber ride Scott discussed future plans with his manager—including a promo video—took a call, and continued planning an upcoming cover with Alessia Cara. After he took care of business we got to talking about pop punk. “Pop punk is coming back! I’m going to start a pop punk band when I get back,” he said. To which I answered, “I’m surprised you don’t already have a pop punk side project.” Most of the time when I talk about the world of pop punk people look at me like I have ten heads, so I was excited to hear a pop artist I enjoy share that he’s a fan of Neck Deep and The Story So Far. When he asked me what my favorite pop punk band was I replied with Seaway (I must really enjoy Canadian artists huh?).
As we finished talking pop punk we arrived at Roberta’s where they were playing nothing but hits the second we walked in—starting with Alanis Morissette. We ordered a few different pizzas to share and, after eating the first slice, Scott said, “This is the best pizza I’ve ever had.” We indulged in our lunch and talked about how Toronto actually has an incredible Italian community (and great pizza, apparently). We were down to the last slice and Scott offered it to me but I couldn’t take it. Although he insisted, I said, “You don’t live here and won’t get to eat this as often. It’s the best pizza you’ve ever had. It’s yours!” He couldn’t argue with me so he ate the last slice.
Offering up that slice was such a minute gesture but it speaks volumes about Scott. He is always trying to help others and put more kindness out into the world. Not only through small actions like sharing food but also with the platform he created: Solve The Solvable, which aims to tackle issues in his community. “I find nowadays, because of the internet, we have such a massive pool of information and a lot of it doesn’t do a good job at connecting the dots from awareness to action. I wanted to change that and create a platform where my fans (and anyone else) can share positive local initiatives and tackle activism one local step at a time,” he explained. Although this may be a small step in helping to solve the issues of the world, it has already made a huge impact. On the platform’s Facebook group there are lots of people helping out in their community—from donating blood to volunteering their time as mentors.
It’s rare to find a talent like Scott who is not only good at his craft but has used his voice to do good. With all that he does, Scott still manages to be lighthearted and humorous despite having to be up at 4am on days like this one. It made me wonder how he stays level-headed through it all. As we wandered through some thrift stores in Brooklyn I asked what keeps him grounded, especially with a busy schedule that includes sometimes nonstop and tiresome travel. He said that simply being busy is the answer. “I have ADHD so I like to be constantly doing stuff,” he added.
It was almost time for Scott to head to the airport when we hit Urban Jungle, one of the places on his list of where to go. I can understand why this was a must on his trip to New York because it had vintage letterman jackets, flannels, and denim jackets. It was pretty overwhelming to be presented with so many great thrifts but with limited time. Scott came across a sweet track jacket that he tried on and modeled for us. “Does this make me look like a munchkin?” he jokingly asked. I also came across a red flannel I couldn’t pass up, it was only $6 and practically brand new.
Once we made our purchases we headed outside. Scott got into his Uber to go to the airport and I made my way to the L train back to Manhattan, feeling fulfilled in so many ways. It is without a doubt a cool opportunity to get to work with an artist you admire and listen to. What makes it an even greater experience is learning they are an incredible human being inside and out. Scott Helman may seem like he’s living the life of a rockstar but at the end of the day he’s another young adult navigating the world and trying to do right by it.