UK-born, Australian-raised HELENA is one of the fastest rising female DJs in the scene. After releasing “Raven” back in September, HELENA came back with another single this week called “Shake It” on Tiesto’s Musical Freedom Records (which you can now get on Beatport). With the support from some of the top DJs in the world, as well as earning a residency at Drai’s in Las Vegas, the Aussie icon has been getting a lot of attention from artists and fans alike. I caught up with HELENA to learn about how she got into the music scene, her production process, experience playing on the stages of some of the largest festivals around the world, and her upcoming projects.
How did you get your start with DJing and producing?
My love of music spans back right into my childhood. I started on the decks at around the age of 14.
Since then it was a natural progression into the music scene. I started working in the industry in the UK running club nights and was DJing on the side purely for fun.
I would say though professionally it all really started for me about 5 years ago in Australia when I decided to concentrate purely on my DJing and take it seriously as a profession. This is when it really all started in a sense. I started producing about a year after this.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I have lots of musical influences, I think you can hear this in my style of mixing. I can play very hard but then flip into a big progressive house driven track or then into a big vocal.
I love artists such as Dannic, W&W, Steve Angello, Tiesto, Alesso, Kryder, Showtek, Bassjackers, Sick Individuals.. I love to mix it up in my productions and in my sets.
You’ve gained support from some of the top DJs including Tiesto, Avicii & Hardwell. What was a moment in your career that really helped bring more traction to you and your music?
I think it was when I heard that Tiesto liked ‘Shake It’ and wanted to sign it. This was a big moment for me, even though I have already had a fair few releases previously and some great support on stuff it’s really amazing to actually get support on a track signed by one of the biggest DJs in the world and him really believing in the project. It helps so much on getting your name out there and really getting traction on your music.
You just released a new track “Shake It”. What was your process of creating that track?
“Shake It” came together in about 2 months. The process started with the break which was sounding huge. Originally it had a different drop to the current one. I went through about 4 versions of the drop trying to get it right. I just felt with the idea and theme of the track being “shake it,” the drop needed to have a big buzz about it for people to “shake it” to (if you get me!)
If I launched into a big progressive cool drop, it just would not have suited the idea behind the track. So it was more about getting that part right. I wanted to make a big festival style buzz track; that was my aim.
In the electro-house scene where a lot of tracks have a very similar sound, how do you keep your sound unique?
It’s very hard to sound unique these days. I thought I had a more unique sound on the drop of “Shake It,” but then you see comments saying, “Don’t you think it sounds like….” which I would not have picked up on.
You are always going to get this, as it’s very hard to capture something that really hasn’t been done or sounds a bit like something else as everyone has access to the same synths, plug ins and samples. Sound design comes into it a lot to try and stay unique. You just have to keep pushing forward experimenting with new sounds to try and stay fresh.
You’ve performed at some of the largest festivals such as Tomorrowland, Ultra Music Festival and Stereosonic. What’s been a memorable event from one of your sets?
Tomorrowland stands out in particular as very memorable as it was on my all time list of where I wanted to play. Even just being there in Belgium and being part of the experience of the festival was unreal. I also got to carve my name into the bridge which was cool. Even though midway through my set there was a big out pour of rain, it didn’t stop the crowd from going nuts. All my team was there with me too, so it was really special.
What are some of your upcoming projects?
In January, I am back to Australia for a big tour, and then I start on a 3 month “Shake It” tour around the States which will be crazy. Musically, I have about 3 tracks currently in the works. I am finishing up one at the moment including one with Vassy (from David Guetta’s “Bad” track) which is sounding so catchy, so I’m excited to get this one wrapped and released! There is lots of music to come in 2015 so it should be an exciting year.
As one of the few solo female DJs in a male-dominated industry, do you face any challenges? For aspiring female DJs and producers, what advice would you give them?
To be confident and persistent. Generally people love to criticize female artists; before they have even heard you, they will write you off. You will always be proving yourself in every aspect, so you need to have a thick skin, work hard and be very determined. Don’t let people knock you off track. If you want it go for it.
Photo Credit: Drai’s Nightclub