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Helgi has been writing and performing music for over 10 years, and the fact that he still doesn't have one-sixth of the endowment, fanbase or lovechildren of the Rolling Stones has finally convinced him that music is a far from linear business. Despite this realisation, here is a brief rundown of what he's been up to in that time.
"Surreal observational lyrics and deadpan delivery" - Six Lips Theatre Company, 2010
Helgi began writing as a sort of protest singer, armed with a vague respect for Dylan and Billy Bragg and the teenage illusion that persuading one family-owned restaurant to stop serving foie gras by shouting at the management from outside was a top political priority. The phrase 'shoving it down their throats' was used on both sides. From this controversial starting point, Helgi spent a bit more time on the guitar and crafted a number of sweeter songs, including 'Demerara' (2007) - the refrain of which still haunts him whenever he comes across old secondary school friends: Demerara, there's no rarer / like muscovado but fairer. (Recently Helgi had it on good authority that at least one person still has a version of this track on a pre-Apple-hegemony mp3 player). 2008's 'Credit Crunch EP' sold in the dozens on home-burned CDRs, at the carefully considered price of 50p. At this time in Helgi's life, it was a crucial measure of success that his Tory-leaning maths teacher willingly bought in and was known to play songs from the Credit Crunch EP to her classes on the electronic whiteboard. Perhaps this lady was mistaken as to Helgi's artistic intentions, but then we were 'all in it together'.
"Born to rock!" - York Evening Press, 2008
During the following four years, Helgi appeared onstage around 300 times, mostly at venues in Yorkshire as the bass player of Hot Fudge (funk / ska party band) and the Standbys ('If it's too loud, I suggest you turn it up'). In both these cases, it fell to Helgi to be the 'goofy' member of the band - becoming known locally as the 'Cardinal of Funk' after his appearance at the Grand Opera House, York wearing a black suit and bizarre wide-brimmed hat. If there was any vanity involved, he wore it on his sleeve (in 2010, some female school friends came to a Standbys gig complete with a ladies' t-shirt reading 'We ♥ Helgi' and he obligingly kept it on for the duration of the performance).
Hot Fudge had a decent run, playing as a hired wedding and party band around Yorkshire ('Hello Wetherby!') as well as recording an 11-track album paid for by their winnings as Best Live Band at the 2009 York Best of the Bands. Helgi was also voted Best Young Musician at that year's awards, receiving the honour in a sweat-soaked orange overall after performing with two bands. Being the only York band of its kind, Hot Fudge played support slots with Neville Staples (The Specials), The Beat and Random Hand during its heyday. From 2011 the band members began to disperse, the last hurrah being to win the Manchester round of the national 'Blastbeat' competition and perform at the 2000-cap Greenwich O2 Indigo in London. Sir Cliff Richard was next door on the main stage that night...
The Standbys also had a brief period of popularity, sandwiched cleverly into the window when their school friends were old enough to know better but not yet old enough to get into a night club. The old Fibbers, York, and its larger upstairs competitor The Duchess repeatedly played host to their raucous 'garagey' energy, with support slots for The Hot Melts, Twisted Wheel and Dinosaur Pile-Up gathering large crowds. The Standbys' headline show in June 2009 more or less sold out Fibbers, with the band selling 94 advance tickets to their 'fans'. The band's finest hour came when they were selected by Nick Grimshaw and Annie Mac to be the House Band on their 'Switch' show on BBC Radio 1. In terms of financial longevity, the £60 royalties for the one-minute song sample they used could only go so far; however Helgi still looks back with a wry smile on his bandmate James Barton's words in the interview: Helgi's a bit of a music mogul. The ladies love it.
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