If you were to ask me how my life has been over the last decade, I would describe it as turbulent. Not much has turned out as I expected it to, some of these events have been good but many have also been painful and shocking. Back in 2012, I signed up to do another EP with Resound Media, I had lots of plans for the type of music that I wanted to produce; it was going to be another large scale pop album with lots of great catchy hooks. I set out to write some songs but every time I sat at the piano, nothing would appear. This is unlike me, there’s always a song or an idea on the horizon; I sing all the time to the extent that people usually tell me to shut up! It was becoming clear that this project was not going to be an easy write.
Between 2007 and 2013 my family went through a time of loss: my husband was made redundant four times in five years, I suffered from post natal depression after a traumatic birth experience, we had a miscarriage, the bank who provided our mortgage went bust and then ten of our friends and family died, most suddenly through illness, accident and one of them was murdered. It seemed to never end. Looking back it was no wonder that I couldn’t write – there was too much pressure let alone time to heal. And what was I going to write about?
For days on end I would sit at the piano staring at the keys but nothing would materialise. The producer Andy Baker asked me to send through my material, I panicked as I knew there was nothing to send. It became a joke in my house: “have you written anything today?”, “NOPE!”. I thought that my songwriting career was over. After several months, I went for walk and decided to tackle the problem head on: as I mulled over the situation, I realised that I had to let go of the ideas I had for the EP and go with what was on my heart and accept where my I was at. It was revolutionary… From that moment I was able to write about the experiences that I had been through and be honest about the unexpected path that my life had taken. A very different EP emerged, it was raw, honest and also acoustic.
So why Sirens and Other Mysteries? I thought the last few years were a wilderness but looking back I realised that actually these experiences were designed to make me the person I’m supposed to be. The “Sirens” are things that lure us from our path and hold our attention for no good reason and the “Mysteries” are things that happen in life that seem to make no sense at the time but in reality God uses them to draw us closer to Him.
All I can say if you’re in the same situation of loss and change: hold on, things will eventually make sense…
Helen will be performing at OXJAM as part of the “Sirens and Other Mysteries” tour.
Date: Saturday 18th October 2014 at 6pm
Venue: Turl Street Kitchen, 16 Turl St, Oxford OX1 3DH