Helena Deland in the eyes of those who look at her

We would like to believe that Someone New, the debut album by singer-songwriter Helena Deland, is a continuation of the tasty EPs she has offered since 2016, and this is partly the case when you only look at the richness of his texts and the bewitching timbre of his voice. But now, something has changed in her. You can hear it. The more austere folk rock orchestrations, the serious tone, she explains with an awareness, the driving force behind this album which she says is very intimate. “I’m afraid to throw this out in the world,” anticipates Helena Deland. She reassured herself: it was a successful record.

It was, she said, the first time she had taken a solo vacation, and the timing seems curious, two weeks before the release, next Friday, of his very first album, expected here as in the United States and in Europe, where his name already resonates thanks to word of mouth. “Holidays are allowed by this kind of coexistence with COVID, when everything can be done remotely”, like this telephone conversation. “And also, because it’s the best time of the year …”

I realized that what I found difficult in my life had more to do with my gender than my personality. Writing to bond with other women has helped me understand my own experience, which has long been related to the male gaze.

Born in Vancouver but identifying with Quebec, where she grew up, Deland has built her image by relentlessly launching in recent years a few small nuggets of cuddly and intelligent folk – and, all in all, quite light, which is not not a fault, but the comparison between his old songs and those of Someone New deserves to be highlighted in broad outline. Even without dwelling on the text, the interpretation, the retained game of his collaborators, the precise touch of the director and sound engineer Gabe Wax (Fleet Foxes, Soccer Mommy, Palehound), everything suggests that this disc has not been released. not done without pain.

Validate

Voluntarily confined to the Upper Laurentian forest, the musician is also looking for inspiration again, she admits: “In Montreal, I live with two roommates – they are wonderful, but we are a little tight… Here, it allows me to play music more freely ”, only letting himself be distracted by the wildlife that surrounds him. “You have to get used to the sounds at night,” Helena said. Of course there are animals nearby – I think there are raccoons, and maybe also a family of mice in the chalet … When it wakes me up at night, I have to talk to myself to do not go into a kind of paranoia! “

Evoking the themes of Someone New, Helena says she has moved on “to other things” today: “I had a lot to work out with myself” when writing the thirteen songs for her debut album, which she calls “feminist.” “Before starting to write the album, I already wanted to write for a listener, for a woman, rather than thinking of the eternal male to conquer or to seduce, the one in front of whom to show fit, valid. […] “

When composing the album, “I was going to look a lot for validation in my relationships [avec les hommes]. I had a hard time accepting what I wanted to do because that validation came from a form of performance like me, who I was. That’s why I say the album has feminist claims. ” This quest for validation in the male gaze is particularly expressed in the words of the title song opening the album and summing up the spirit: ” If things go my way / I’ll stay in this room / Where again I want to lay / Kissing someone new / Who tells me / Something pretty / So that I, too / Can feel like someone new “. Words she thinks are desperate: “Why do I feel like I have an expiration date? Am I wasting my youth? “

Reflect

“I realized that what I found difficult in my life had more to do with my gender than my personality,” she says. Writing to bond with other women has helped me understand my own experience, which has long been related to the male gaze. Helena searched for herself like one searches a lot at her age, finding her answers in the words of her songs that she scribbles in what seems to her to be a “diary” more than a notebook.

“It’s a great personal writing experience, downright therapeutic. It allowed me to think about certain issues in a liberating way, and assumed, because creative “, adds the musician who, over the long reflection, found some answers in the famous documentary Ways of Seeing (1972) by Briton John Berger, who at the time offered a refreshing interpretation of “the image of women in art, with [la voix de Berger] saying that the man observes and the woman observes herself being observed … It is the pressure to appear “which directly inspired the words of Blade, yet one of the most pop and rhythmic of this album with parsimonious but skilful orchestrations.

“I have gained awareness and confidence” since its inception in 2016, which, Helena says, explains this climate, these grooves in perfect harmony with its purpose. “Also, I realize that making music and bringing it into the world is not just anything. I try to compose songs that are worth listening to. This is also one of the themes of the record: the great fear of having such a subjective point of view on the world that, in fact, a large part of this world escapes us. I would like every moment of writing leading up to a recording to result in something worth discussing. “

Someone New

Helena Deland, Chivi Chivi. To be released Friday, October 16.



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