Eagles in the Spotlight

Helena M. '17

In Grade 9 Helena M. ’17 took 2nd Place in the Riverside Campus Talent Show. She played piano while fellow classmate Elodie L. ’17 sang. After this experience, Helena said to herself, “This is what I want to do” and after training from ISZL teachers like Mr Wasner, Mr Huber, Ms LeGuen and Mr Smith, she is well on her way!


IB Music Theory vs. University Methods

The IB programme gave Helena a strong classical music training which has served her well. As a junior, Helena took a summer course at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in London to learn more about writing music and lyrics. “I wanted to write my own songs to perform. Everyone can cover other songs, but I needed my own material.” Of course, being an original artist requires an original name. “My grandma was a concert pianist and her last name was Deans. I have taken that last name as my artist name. So Helena Deans is the name I go by. It’s really meant to honor her and her talent.” And like her grandma, Helena primarily performs on the piano, but she also has played saxophone in the ISZL Jazz Band and knows some electric jazz guitar too.

“The last two years of ISZL were hard,” shares Helena. “I have super fun memories of the talent shows, but the IB was tough! Even still, performing was good. In Grades 9 and 10 I did International Day and a Zuwebe charity event. My first big gig was actually Mr Currer’s, ISZL Director 2008-2017, farewell party.”

Now that she’s studying at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM) in London, Helena is thriving in the creative space it provides her. “It’s all about creativity and just pure talent. BIMM is a lot less theory based than IB Music was. It is less about the degree and more about the connections. The tutors who train you are in the business and help you get into the music industry as much as they can.” Helena shares that on the first day of class, each class member had to perform an original song. After class, she ran into one of her classmates on the Tube. Soon after, they used his home studio to record songs which led to Helena’s first EP. “Jack S. ’17 did the album art for it and now I can use it to get gigs and to sell it at gigs.” Jack will also be part of Helena’s first music video.

About the Album

The Gasoline EP was written while moving between Switzerland and the UK. For the fourth track, 10 people from Helena’s class collaborated. “We had one hour to prep and perform this song. The whole class got involved! That choir you hear, those are actually my classmates!” The last track called Kerosene is a kind of art piece with samples of other songs cut together with narration of people making a fire. “It is the narration of two people lighting something on fire and is written using samples of all the songs on the EP. It represents the end of a drama,” explains Helena.


Where to hear it

Helena is performing at venues and art galleries as a solo artist and with a band. Visit her Facebook page for the next dates. This year she plans to release a single. In the meantime, you can hear The Gasoline on iTunes, Spotify and live sessions on Sound Could.

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Share your story, accomplishments or news by completing the Alumnus/a Interview form or by emailing alumni(at)iszl.ch.

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