Award winning musician Helen Austin will be gracing the stage of The Soundgarden in Coombs Saturday, May 12.
The prolific singer-songwriter originally from the UK now living in Comox has been performing most of her life but her style has undergone many transformations.
For many years Austin worked as a stand up comedian bringing her quirky humor to her musical performances in England.
She said she didn’t start out with the dream of being a stand up comic, rather it was a way to pay the bills when she was in university.
“I didn’t mean to be funny. I sort of fell into it. I would sing naughty songs … it wasn’t clever comedy. The Brits love that sort of thing,” she admitted.
Austin said she performed in comedy clubs for 20 years but she always longed to do straight music.
She said she started writing songs in her teens but there was never time to perform her serious songs. The songstress said she decided to give up comedy and pursue the songs in her heart when she moved her family to the Island.
“We used to come and ski at Mount Washington and we came one summer,” she recalled and added she knew then she wanted to live here.
She said she along with her husband and two kids arrived for good in 2002.
It was that move where she was finally able to make songwriting her main focus.
A regular at the Vancouver Island MusicFest, Austin, along with Todd Butler, will once again be the MCs on the Mainstage late show at the three day Festival which goes July 6 to 8 this year.
Now a popular entertainer in the Comox Valley, Austin runs a songwriter’s circle and is part of various musical ensembles in addition to her own performances as a singer-songwriter.
Austin was the recipient of the artist of the year award in 2011 at Vancouver Island Music Awards (VIMA).
She won an innovation award for her song-writing and was one of the nominees for female songwriter of the year at the 2012 VIMAs.
Her self-produced music videos have been getting over a million viewers online and she has been earning accolades and acquiring fans from around the world. She has released two albums: Treehouse and Song of the Week 2 and just completed the tracks for a new album with renowned producer Bleu.
Austin just returned from her recording session in Los Angeles. She said she recorded 12 tracks but only 10 will be on the album which she said is totally different from anything she has done before.
“It is more polished … it’s a way bigger production. I signed exclusively with a publisher last year and it has worked well,” she stated.
She said there is quite a musical range on the album and while she won’t be able to perform it live because of all the different instruments used, it will work for licensing and perhaps she will get one of her songs on the hit TV medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.
Artists such as Feist, Metric, Snow Patrol and Tegan and Sara have had their tunes performed on the show and Austin said although she doesn’t watch it, she knows how cool it would be to have one of her titles make it to the show.
She did point out that her music can be heard on a few network TV shows including One Tree Hill, 90210 and Ghost Whisperer.
When Austin takes to the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday night she will be performing with her 14 year old daughter, Daisy Squires, a very poised and talented young lady. Austin is happy to have her daughter join her on stage singing back-up vocals and playing the fiddle.
The Soundgarden is located on the Coombs Fairgrounds. Tickets for the concert are $15 and are available at the Coombs General Store.