Sheffield born artist Helen Boulding released her second album Calling All Angels last month and has so far been receiving some outstanding reviews. Fuse rang her for a chat about what it’s like splitting your life between two cities, song writing, balancing a family life and starting your own record label.
You live in London and Sheffield now, which city feels more like home to you?
I live in both 50:50 now really. London feels more like work for me, Sheffield I’ve always associated it with home but I’ve been living in London for so long now so that feels like home too but in a different way. I think I get the best of both worlds really, London it’s exciting, it’s fast but in Sheffield I will bump into people in the street, my family are here; it’s like a big village.
You’ve co-written songs with some pretty big names. Who have you enjoyed working with the most so far?
You get different things out of working with different people and different situations. Obviously working with someone like Rick Wright is an amazing experience but working with people like Alex Parks was great because it was looking like she was going to win Fame Academy and 6 weeks after writing the track she was in the charts. And she was young and fun. I’ve been lucky and I’ve worked with very nice people. I’ve worked with Joe Mcelderry and Janet Devlin recently and they are both lovely. I work with a lot of intelligent artist types rather than divas.
What comes easiest to you, performing or song writing?
I love performing my own songs because it’s telling the story of your own life really. Being an artist myself helps when song writing with people because I can relate to the experiences and I also end up learning something about myself. When focusing on someone else’s career you think, maybe I should try this myself? It does go both ways, you learn from each other.
Is it difficult balancing a family life when writing and recording?
It was a very different lifestyle change at first and I went back to work 2 months after. It was a real challenge but I decided to dive into it head on. Jack is very laid back and loves music and it’s made my working really easy, people want me to bring him in! He adapts so well to everything, he’s so chilled. We work everything around and my family helps out a lot too. I feel so blessed because I have this beautiful child and my career. You kind of go for it more because you have less time to play around with.
What Sheffield artists have impressed you recently?
It’s the athletes that have impressed me recently! I met John from reverend and the makers recently and we ended up writing together and realised we live very close to each other. He’s been playing me there new stuff and they’re sounding really good. I love Richard Hawley as well. When I was playing Hop Farm, Slow Club were playing after me and I like them a lot.
What artists have inspired your music?
This album especially, I was listening to a lot of Goldfrapp. On her last album it was mainly song based with a bit of an electronic sound as well and I thought what a beautiful way to make a record. So I decided to put a bit of an electronic feel on my album, the up tempo tracks in particular. I like each album to have its own thing.
Why the long wait between your two albums?
One of my problems is that I’m a perfectionist. I think as I go and make more records it will probably change, but it makes it quite a lengthy process. I had Jack in the middle so the album was actually finished at the beginning of 2010 but we just wanted to do some tweaks, a remix of the single and the artwork. I’d say that put a year and a half on top of everything. I think the next one will be quicker.
What made you decide to start your own label?
When I made New Red Dress Warner Brothers were about to sign it but then there was a change round of the management and they wanted to wait for me to bring it out. So then I just thought, what am I waiting for? Let’s get this record out. When you bring out an independent record everything about it feels more personal.
Do you think you’ll carry on releasing on your own label, Maid in Sheffield?
I think so because you just get so much more freedom. My friend Imogen Heap signed to a major label for her last album but she got a lot of creative controls because they already know she can do it on her own.