Copenhagen based artistHelena Gao is no novice to alt-pop and all its interpretations. With her latest track she’s ready to introduce herself with her own execution, one worth its replay value.
Helena Gao’s music is situated between reality and a dreamscape. She lets listeners in on her thoughts through playful songwriting set against a dreamy production of synths, as showcased in ‘Pretty Please’. In collaboration with Malthe Madsen, it is the latest track to precurse the release of her upcoming EP ‘Mirth n Matter’. Listeners can expect both pop and electronic influences on the soon-to-be-released project, whilst she insists on staying true to how it feels to be a woman making her way through the world.
Chatting about the latest track, she has a way of describing the music that captures just how it sounds. “Malthe Madsen sent me an instrumental demo, and I thought it had this sensual feel to it. Like dancing in an underwater club. So I wanted my contribution to encapsulate this.” Such a metaphorical way of speaking extends to her lyricism, and it makes for extremely relatable music for young women looking for ways to describe their own experiences.
A labour of love, the project has been in the works for some time now. “Some tracks are like three years old and some were made last year with my collaborator Malthe. But it’s definitely taken some time for me to realise how to put it all together.” But now she insists that she’s ready to share the new music, and ready to let people in on the inner workings of her world. Comfortable laying her emotions out for listeners, Helena hopes ‘Mirth and Matter’ allows her listeners to do the same. “With the EP I hope they get to laugh and cry in the short span of 15 minutes.”
Read our full interview with the artist below, and listen to the new single ‘Pretty Please’, out now.
Hi Helena! Thanks for speaking with us. So firstly can you tell me about ‘Pretty Please’ as a song. How did the lyrics for this track in particular come into fruition?
Well, my friend and collaborator Malthe Madsen sent me an instrumental demo, and I thought it had this sensual feel to it. Like dancing in an underwater club. So I wanted my contribution to encapsulate this. I basically jammed the whole melody while cooking a stew. It was my first song about sex, and I couldn’t help but be really careful with how I worded stuff, because I couldn’t shake the feeling that my parents would probably hear it. So the lyrics ended up just being a whole song of pussyfooting around.
What does the EP title ‘Mirth n Matter’ mean? How does it represent the project as a whole?
Well I’ve always felt like my life was like a dramedy, and that humour is always incorporated in my life in some way. That’s also how I like the tone in my songwriting. I’ve rarely just felt sad and suddenly lost my sense of humour. I can’t turn my self awareness off. Sometimes I even burst out laughing while crying. That’s why I wanted to call it ‘Mirth n Matter.’ It’s just how I feel my life is, and I write music based on my life.
How long have you been working on this project?
Hmmmmm, well some tracks are like three years old and some were made last year with my collaborator Malthe. But it’s definitely taken some time for me to realise how to put it all together and which people I needed to have around to make it happen like this. But now I’m super pleased with the result, and excited to set the songs free.
What artists in particular and even things have influenced you as someone who makes music?
I’m a huuuge Radiohead fan. It was the only band I listened to from the age of twelve to fourteen and the reason I wanted to write songs. I was an outsider as a kid, and when I read about Radiohead on Wikipedia, it seemed like they were outsiders too, but turned it into something great. I wanted to do that too.
What do you hope people learn about you as an artist after listening to the upcoming project?
That I really appreciate the good old craft of songwriting, but love to experiment with its presentation. And maybe they’ll hear in my music that I had a lot of fun making it.
How does your surroundings in Copenhagen influence you as an artist? How would you say it’s shaped you as an artist after studying there?
I feel like there’s a really small and close community here in Copenhagen. You very easily get to know who everyone is, and I’d say that’s pretty special. I also think my time studying made me really confident in showing my music to other people, which is so important if you want to improve. Then people can give you feedback and advice.
How would you say the EP differs from the previous ‘Extended Adolescence’ in regards to its themes and sound?
It differs a lot I think. It’s more pop-ish, more electronic and wayyy more sassy. It still has some similar themes about being a young woman in this world, but since I made ‘Extended Adolescence’, I’ve gained an Instagram account, and that totally changed something. I know the internet-lingo now, and I’m not afraid to use it!
How do you hope this new track makes listeners feel when they hear it? What do you hope they take away from the EP?
I hope they get in the mood, iykyk. With the EP I hope they get to laugh and cry in the short span of 15 minutes. That would be a huge accomplishment on my part.