INTERVIEW: HELENA Talks “Levity,” Working With Ultra Records and More

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“If I’m not fist-pumping and jumping around in the studio when it drops then I know it’s not going to transpose well into a festival set. “Levity” was about combining classic house with the more energetic sounds of now.”

HELENA has blessed the electro house community with multiple massive singles in recent months, but “Levity,” her brand new Ultra Records-backed collaboration with esteemed vocalist Shawnee Taylor, just might be the one that launches the Australian producer to her inevitable position as an instantly recognizable staple of electronic music.

After hearing the exciting new material, UTG had the chance to talk with HELENA about releasing “Levity” through Ultra Records along with a variety of other topics including her goal to release a Beatport chart-topper and much more, so scroll down to hear from one of electro house’s brightest rising stars.

How does it feel to be releasing music through one of electronic music’s most well known labels in the form of Ultra Records?

Amazing! A huge achievement for me to have a track on Ultra — they are one of the biggest labels in the world, so I was so stoked when they were into “Levity”! Ultra was on my hit list of labels to work with so it’s really cool to have a track with them. They are a great label [and] I’d like to continue to do some future stuff with them for sure.

How did you and Shawnee Taylor connect, and what was the process of working with her for “Levity” like?

When I finished the instrumental track for “Levity,” I was listening to the breakdown over and over. I wanted to create a euphoric house feeling in the break, something you could hear on a summer terrace party; I wanted to make a big, uplifting, feel-good track going into Miami and the summer season. My mind was thinking summer, house, female, strong, uplifting over and over, and suddenly I went, “OMG, SHAWNEE TAYLOR!” To me, her voice is everything I was thinking; I am a huge fan of her work.

My manager within 5 minutes was emailing the demo to her team. We got a reply back the next day saying Shawnee loved the track and “who was the guy behind it?” When she heard it was a female artist she said “WHAT, IT’S A GIRL?! My God, I’m so down, I have been waiting so long for this to happen!” She was all the more excited to be working with a female producer and the statement that alone puts out there, along with the fact she absolutely loved the track. She delivered a demo vocal a week later and I melted; it was just what I imagined, it was perfect! I loved it. She is one of the best house vocalists of our time; it’s a huge honour to be working with her.

“Levity” has a strong message behind the track; it’s about empowerment, it delivers a real message of positivity of rising above things in life and people that try and pull you down and never giving up, which I think everyone can relate to.

There’s no doubt in my mind “Levity” is going to become a festival staple. When writing tracks, do you consider how they’ll transfer over to a live setting?

Of course you have to consider where you are aiming this track and that is why the drop is big and energetic, as even though I love the house breakdown, a house drop would not really suit my style or fit into my sets, as those who know what I am about know I love big energy in the music I play. I needed this track to slam when it dropped, but I wanted it to still have groove. If I’m not fist-pumping and jumping around in the studio when it drops then I know it’s not going to transpose well into a festival set. “Levity” was about combining classic house with the more energetic sounds of now.

How would you compare “Levity” to your previous works?

I think all my tracks so far do vary somewhat but are also in the same vein of big, energetic electro/progressive. For me I am not trying to make the same track over — I don’t want all my tracks sounding the same. They will always have a similar vibe in some way and a few cross sounds (i.e. in “Levity” I have used the same whip sound and snares and a few other sounds from my track “Legend”), so there is a bit of continuity in there. “Levity” is the second vocal track I have done, after “Girl From The Sky” a few years ago. I want to make big, banging instrumental tracks as well as big, progressive vocal stuff, as I play both equally.

I’ve noticed you interact with fans and lesser-known producers on a consistent basis through social media. How do you think that’s attributed to your success as a rising name within the electronic community?

I think it’s very important to have a good relationship with your fans and followers, as without them no one would be at your shows, supporting your music or making you the artist that you are. I try to interact and reply to them as much as I can, though it’s just not possible to reply to everyone all the time. I have no idea how Laidback Luke does it; he replies to so many, it’s crazy — he must do it in his sleep! And with regards to lesser-known producers, well I don’t see myself above anyone; the lesser-known guys are the superstars of tomorrow, [and] I always feel you should treat everyone the same regardless of what ‘status’ they may or may not have. I am a very easygoing person; I just like interacting with cool people with no attitude, whoever they might be.

You’ve already performed across the globe at major music festivals, received support from legends such as Tiesto and Nicky Romero, and found notable success on club charts. What’s one goal you’ve yet to accomplish as a DJ and producer?

I do have a goal (like most artists I imagine) to have a Beatport number one; that would be super dope! But I’m patient; I don’t expect it straight away, I know I have to earn my place. And the same goes with some of the other major festivals and shows. I know I have to earn my spot on these main stages and I am working very hard to get there. I don’t ever expect anything to be given to me on a plate. Everything that has happened so far I have worked hard for, so I will just continue to do so until I am a stable name on every big stage in the world.

What are your plans for the rest of 2014 once “Levity” drops?

I have my own party this year in Miami which is really exciting. It’s taking place at Mokai on the 29th with a bunch of Legends including John Dahlback, Sick Individuals, The Chainsmokers, Stafford Brothers, Paris and Simo, Feenixpawl, Will Sparks, Lunde Bros Wayne and Woods, Bass Kleph and Timmy Trumpet amoung others, so I have been busy prepping for this! I can’t wait! The rest of 2014; a big new residency is to be announced soon, a few big festival announcements coming, a tour of Asia in April including an arena date with Alesso and Deniz Koyu, a few EU tours, more touring around The States, my homeground Australia, and other than that, more and more music to come. So keeping busy!

Download “Levity” on Beatport, follow HELENA on Twitter, and check out the rest of her work on SoundCloud.

Interview conducted by Michael Giegerich (follow him on Twitter)

Mike Giegerich

Mike Giegerich is a freelance journalist with an affinity for the hip-hop scene. His top-five favorite records of all time are Future's last five releases. Feel free to blow up his mentions on Twitter.
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