Alt-Pop Duo Hooked Like Helen Share New Single 'Tear This Place Apart'
Alt-Pop duo Hooked Like Helen has shared their new single 'Tear This Place Apart' on the 26th April, lifted from their upcoming EP, Tragedy Of Physics set for release on 31st May via Stipp Manor Music. Co-produced alongside Grammy award-winning mixer, engineer and producer Isha Erskine (Ziggy Marley, Maroon 5, Black Eyed Peas) the EP also features vocals by NBC's The Voice contestant, Emily Keener. Previous single 'No Turning Back' which recently premiered via Clash Magazine and featured on the NY Top 40 Charts, was used as the soundtrack in the trailer for the film High Strung: Free Dance, set to hit international theatres this year. 'Liar', also lifted from the EP, won acclamation by winning the Indi.com songwriting contest and has been snapped up for use in a dance scene choreographed by So You Think You Can Dance's Tyce Diorio for High Strung: Free Dance. The soundtrack for the film includes 3 Hooked Like Helen songs and 2 tracks co-written by Hooked Like Helen's Nikki Stipp. Previous tracks 'Get Well', 'Concrete Tub', and 'Surface Break' were placed on MTV's Unlocking The Truth docu-series alongside its official Spotify Playlist, and their track 'Stable' was placed in a promo video for the television show Nashville.
Nikki and Jon hail from Los Angeles, California and Cleveland, respectively, and met while both playing in classic/ alternative-rock band Red Circle Underground. Crafting their sound in a house in the woods about 40 miles west of Cleveland, the husband-and-wife duo, Nikki and Jonathan Stipp, began their musical brainstorm experimenting with home recordings before developing their sound into their current an alt-pop vision. Within a year of the project's inception, Nikki and Jon had shaped a new sound reflecting their truth and their influences in a seamless blend of organic and electronic production. They toured all along the Sunset Strip and Hollywood area (The Satellite, Bootleg Theatre, Silverlake Lounge, The Roxy, Hotel Cafe) until leaving the LA area in 2013.
Jon's early musical interests lay with the raw energy of punk, and the throbbing chords of rock, frequenting Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins and Third Eye Blind concerts. He joined an Emo band as a teenager, Trees Are Tall, the drummer of which, eventually convinced Jon to move to LA and join Red Circle Underground, where he met Nikki. Nikki began tracking cassette-tape demos by the age of 11, and by her 20's was a regular on the LA circuit, playing at venues like The Viper Room, House Of Blues, and Cobalt Cafe. She experiences Chromesthesia, a type of synesthesia in which heard sounds automatically and involuntarily evoke an experience of colors, shapes and patterns. During the songwriting process, a new idea for a song already has a set color scheme and pattern in Nikki's head, and her composing, arrangements and production choices are guided by this template.
Hooked Like Helen's sound embodies a unique vein of pop music; Nikki's haunting, layered harmonies and lush vocal arrangements create a surreal atmosphere of simultaneous melancholy and hope, dissonance and resolve. Dark lyrics and themes of existential pondering provide an eerie contrast to HLH's melodic sensibilities. With influences spanning over decades, Nikki's affinity for artists such as Prince, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Carol King, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Halsey, Rihanna, and the Weeknd, blends at once while contrasting with Jon's love for rock such as Guns and Roses, The Eagles, Steely Dan, Green Day, Rage Against The Machine, 2pac, Twenty One Pilots, Chris Stapleton. A fusion of pop, rock, and R&B as well as the merging of classic and current songwriting structures, are defining attributes to Hooked Like Helen's sound. The appealing combination of Nikki's vocals paired with the balance between whimsy, sensitivity and fun, conjures images of Ellie Goulding meets Of Monsters and Men.
The duo twists their idiosyncratic brand of alt-pop into a power ballad on 'Tear This Place Apart' and allow Nikki's vocal intensity to boil over into cathartic exultation. The track offers lyrics about the agonies and ecstasies of love, impeccably underpinned by a soundscape that reaches nuclear-threat levels, thanks to Nikki's voice. Piano hooks, intricate, rhythmic bass lines, and epic, driving drums carry the track through the subject matter, but with an underlying groove and a constant sense of pop.
Speaking of the track, Hooked Like Helen said: "Being married to your musical partner is a gift that we wholeheartedly embrace, but there are times when the dynamic can get a little intense! 'Tear This Place Apart' is an artistic reflection of the moments of total chaos between us. We are completely entrenched in each other's creativity and psyches, and there is really no line between life and art for us; this track is the expression of our tension and also the thing that mends us and brings us closer."