UK born, Australian bred and now Los Angeles based, HELENA dominates with her sound as one of EDM’s most prominent DJs and electronic producers. Showcasing her depth with electro, progressive and house beats she stands her ground with finesse. Booked on Ultra Music Festival’s main stage in 2013 while musically annihilating studios around the world, the anticipation is high with the young beauty signing to Sony Music, Mutants, Big & Dirty and Basik Rkrds. HELENA’s style covers everything from upfront vocal house through to mainroom tech electro. Her charisma and energy is irresistible and rapport with every crowd instant. You can catch her this Saturday alongside the legendary, Pete Tong, at Marquee Sydney.
It’s a start of a brand new year, what does 2014 look like for you?
2014 for me is purely about focusing on my music and production. I had been working a lot in 2013, especially lining up tracks so when they came out at the start of the year, I can follow them up. It’s all about building my name as a producer this year, to take it next level and get on to these big festivals and shows. Breaking in my name properly as an international artist and getting on these main stages is key. Really just completing more goals, chasing more dreams, keep building and working really hard and enjoying myself along the way!
Can you tell us something more about your love for electronic music and especially what you are into nowadays when working on your own productions?
My sounds have always been a mix of part electro and melodic progressive. With the music I am working on right now, I am combining the two to get that crossover of good energy with great melodies. I do feel like a lot of music is sounding very alike so I am very conscious of trying to create something a bit fresher and a bit more unique. The market is so saturated; I think it’s important to try to create your own sound, which is a lot harder than it sounds. With the tracks I am working on at the moment I am actually going back to where it all started, back to the beginning of house music. I try to take inspiration from the core and root of where it all began while bringing back some of the elements to the music I am working on with a 2014 twist.
In the past you’ve spoken about how in order to earn respect in this industry, you have to play on the same level as the guys. Do you find yourself being placed in the “Female DJ” bracket or rather seen more equally as an artist?
I’d say it’s a bit of both. Generally I do feel like I am getting treated equally but the fact is it’s still a very male-dominated industry and so I am still battling the sexism card. For example, I still get these odd comments that come along: “you’re really good….for a girl”. It’s also a bit frustrating when interviews refer to me as ‘this hot DJ’. My aim is not to be the hottest DJ, I am just trying to be a good artist. I am not pushing the hot card, I just want to do my thing, make good music and play well.
There are a lot of really talented female DJs out there so hopefully people will start recognising this more. The truth is there are some female DJs that focus on the sexy card but I feel you have to really decide what kind of artist you want to be. Do you want to be seen as just the sexy DJ that most people probably won’t ever truly take seriously or as a respected artist? You have to decide how you want to be seen in the market. I want a career with longevity and a career where I can climb to the very top. In order to do this you can’t focus on putting your looks before your music; you have to focus on yourself as an artist.
When you first started gaining international attention, which DJ’s particularly stood out to you as someone you looked up to or maybe were mentored by?
Steve Angello is great, one of my big goals is to get a track released on Size. Nicky Romero is a good friend and I have always been a huge fan of his music, he’s been a bit of a mentor to me. Some other artists I look up to are Eric Prydz, Deniz Koyu and Thomas Gold, they are all very inspiring to me musically. Also Sick Individuals are fantastic; I really love their music.
Where is the house music scene heading abroad versus America? What do you think is the reason America seems to be trailing behind?
I think America caught on later purely because the market was so dominated with a lot of rap and R&B, which was their culture. Growing up in the U.K, house music was our culture and Australia has always had a very heavy presence of house music. In America, it wasn’t common to hear house music on the radio, that has now changed and America has jumped all over it. Where they were trailing behind, they caught up very quickly. America is now seen around the world as the hub of EDM music and that’s why we see more artists moving to America. Relocating to L.A has been great, I am between Europe and Australia; it’s easier to tour both sides of the world when you are based in The States. It’s like the tortoise and the hare and the tortoise is definitely winning the race!
You’re playing Marquee Sydney this Saturday, January 18….
Yes I have played Marquee Sydney a few times but this is going to be a big show with Pete Tong. It’s going to be amazing because he’s such a music guru. Especially growing up in England, it was all about Pete Tong – Radio One Essential mix, musically it was the bible for us. Playing along side him is a huge honor and it will be incredible!
You can catch HELENA at Marquee Sydney on Saturday, January 18th.
– Sophia Rayo