The Real Ding
GET TO KNOW: HELI
Photo: Ben Raybone
After spending much of the last few months focusing on how to introduce his sound to the wider world, Estonian singer-songwriter HELI has now taken that first vital step by releasing his riveting debut single 'A Relationship Of Bedrooms'.
Blending a heady mix of alt-pop and indie-rock aesthetics throughout his initial offering, 'A Relationship Of Bedrooms' makes for a fascinating listen. Brimming with tender textures, a sweeping atmosphere, and his own impactful voice at the helm, he is certainly looking to cement himself on the scene with this one.
So with the new single available to stream now, we sat down with him to find out more about his background and influences over the years.
What was the first band or artist you fell in love with?
As a kid I really enjoyed Raça Negra, a very specific kind of Brazilian music called pagode. As a teenager, Oasis meant everything to me, even though the brothers themselves were a horrible inspiration. Then there is the band that changed everything for me and made me understand how deep of a connection you can have with music: R.E.M.
Did you ever form a band when you were younger and if so, what did they sound like?
I had an Oasis cover band as the frontman. We desperately tried to sound like Oasis and I wanted to behave like Liam. Then I had another band where we wrote (terrible) original songs but I dropped out of it: everybody behaved like drunk rockstars before they could even be called musicians.
What has been your primary inspiration in writing music?
For over a decade I battled a very very strong depression, to stay in simple terms. Throughout that darkness, in nights of despair, I started writing a lot. Poems, short stories, small notes of thoughts. This is a habit I carried over my entire life and I have at least a thousand pages of things written by me. One day my ex-wife asked me: You like music and writing so much, why don't you try writing a song?
That kicked off a multi-year journey. It's not like it "just happened". Lots of fears, insecurities, long breaks and lack of motivation. But eventually I got here.
What is a song you wish you had written yourself?
Nightswimming by R.E.M. There's something about its melancholy that will haunt me forever. It's the song I want to play on my wake. The lyrics just get me every time, I didn't know you could do such a thing with music.
Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago
Turned around backwards so the windshield shows
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse
Still, it's so much clearer
I forgot my shirt at the water's edge
The moon is low tonight
If there was any moment in your career you could relive, what would it be?
I just started. This, that I am writing to you, is my first interview ever. That said, I performed once a couple original songs at a large open mic event on a real stage.
I was an unabashed child, given a microphone and told to go wild. I want to relive the experience of getting my soul lost on the stage a thousand times if I could ever be so lucky.
Which artist would you most love to share a stage with?
Not that it would ever happen but that would probably be Jeff Tweedy from Wilco.
And is there an artist you would love to collaborate with as well?
Bleachers was the last piece of the puzzle for me. He has so much fun in his songs, it's so clear! It would be absolutely wild to collaborate with Antonoff but well, one can dream. I've been loving My Brightest Diamond lately.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Perhaps performing on stage with Jeff Tweedy? Honestly, I just hope to be making music and from doing so, having enough to pay my bills. I don't think I'd ever need anything else.
HELI's debut single 'A Relationship Of Bedrooms' is out now. Check it out below.