Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Songwriter of the Year || Helen Shanahan

Helen Shanahan has a voice that needs to be heard. And a story that you should definitely pay attention to as well. 

Living with anxiety is something that far too many people can relate to but not enough people are willing to discuss. But Helen Shanahan is no longer one of those people. Winning the prestigious Telstra Road to Discovery and releasing a song straight from one of the most personal experiences in her life, Helen is the type of voice that is necessary just as much as it's wanted.

Her debut EP Finding Gold, follows the same trends of emotional turmoil but finding calm. And there is no one who could tell the stories as well as Helen who lives through them. The entire thing is honest, raw and incredibly important.

What does it mean to win Songwriter of the Year at Telstra Road to Discovery?
Winning meant a lot of things for me personally. Firstly it really really  opened the door to a new network of people and it enabled me to record my new EP Finding Gold. Throughout the competition Bill Page (Mushroom Music) mentored me, and it was invaluable to get feedback on my original material by an industry professional. The prize package included a trip to Nashville, and it was there where I got to co-write and record some of the songs that are now on my new recording.

How do you prepare for something like this competition?
In order to prepare for this competition, you just need to have a strong sense of who you are and have all your songs prepared and be open for feedback. I went in thinking that I would just take all the advice I could, and if I were lucky enough to win then that would be an extra bonus.

What was your reaction after finding out you'd won the category?
I was extremely surprised and honoured to win; I really didn't think I would, as the other two girls in my category (who are my good friends) were absolutely amazing! I have never really won anything before, so it felt very surreal. I was just very grateful to be given a chance and to use the opportunity to move forward with my music.

Your song Across The Sea is inspired by your day-to-day life with anxiety, is this a part of you that you usually share with others?
To be honest it isn't something I usually talk about with others, as it is still something I am getting used to sharing and being ok with. It has been a part of me for so long, but it is great that now others are speaking out about their experiences and it makes me feel like I'm not the only one who is affected by it.

What was the experience of writing about something like anxiety for you?
Writing about it is a lot easier than talking about it. In fact it is cathartic for me to write about it, and it really helps me deal with anxiety and getting through the more trying times! I didn't really consciously think I was writing about anxiety in particular, it was just how I was feeling at the time and in turn I realised most of the songs on the EP were about it.

Finding Gold [was released on] July 3, what [should] we expect to hear from the rest of the song list?
The rest of the songs on the EP deal with similar issues of getting through times of feeling stressed and anxious, however the title track Finding Gold is about realising that you can find moments of calm in every day life. One of the songs on the EP Love Lost was recorded in Nashville, and I love listening to the band as it was just incredible to watch those musicians work!