Introducing… Helene Greenwood

Helene Greenwood

Helene Greenwood

An eccentric English singer-songwriter who successfully channels Thom Yorke and Kate Bush with a unique brand of quirky cinematic folk

Name: Helene Greenwood

Location: London, England

Style: An ethereal, female Thom Yorke, with touches of jazz and folk

Look out for: Her debut album Collectable You out now on Washaway Records

Helen GreenwoodWhether we like it or not, us English folk have cultivated a reputation for eccentricity, especially when it comes to the arts. Kate Bush used this to her advantage, creating an intriguing ethereal persona, Florence Welch picked up a similar tag in recent years, and the same trait could be said of this dreamy, folk-pop singer Helene Greenwood.

With her father working as a hovercraft pilot, Helene was brought up within a stones-throw of Dover’s white cliffs, to the sound of the shipping forecast, stormy coastal weather and classical music. This blend of nature’s elemental soundtrack with the likes of Brahms and Bach, stirred her naturally, creative spirit and, at the age of 10 years old, Helene felt drawn to the piano and composing. However, it wasn’t until her late teenage years that this skill flourished. As Helene recalls, “I had a wonderful composition teacher who was into discovering children’s creativity. She took me under her wing and exposed me to lots of different sounds, and I became a more contemporary composer.”

Helene went on to study at the Academy Of Music and was always thinking of songwriting, but by the age of 18 years old, lacking any formal singing lessons, Helene lost confidence and left the musical career path. “I remember thinking I wasn’t good enough, but I went back to it in my early 30s, and that’s when I felt this was what I wanted to do,” she explains. When asked what changed her mind, Helene gives an honest response: “In my 20s, I think I just floated around and I wasn’t strict enough with myself. I thought, ‘If you want to do this, it’s got to be your whole life.’ I’d done bits of teaching and had my children, so then I decided to make it my life.”

She then took steps to develop her voice, taking singing lessons in opera and then jazz. These flavours can be heard subtly, but the soaring falseto found on her debut album Collectable You evokes stronger comparisons to popular music singers like Thom Yorke. It’s no coincidence, as Helene says, “I started listening to [American jazz singer] Gretchen Parlato who’s influenced by bands like Radiohead and their chord progressions. Sometimes I go in a complete Radiohead bubble – Thom Yorke’s voice is so plaintive and raw, and he seems to feel so much.”

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Recorded over just one week in 2012, Collectable You was the result of Helene’s organic approach to songwriting, along with some talented session musicians, and producer Calum MacColl (son of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger) at the helm. “I used to sing ideas into my iPhone and then bang them out at the piano,” says Helene. “Then Calum interpreted and played them to the musicians, so they got the mood and vibe. They all really understood the songs and it was amazing.”

The imaginative soundscapes and lyrical imagery found in this debut suggest her creativity is only just beginning to be tapped. Does she have ambitions beyond this first release? “Now the album’s out I always think I should be doing something, but I love the opportunity to be free at this point. I’m just enjoying the journey.”

Helene Greenwood’s debut album Collectable You is out now on Washaway Records and is available to buy from iTunes. Meanwhile, watch the official video for the single In The Sunshine taken from the album, below…

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