Imagine a mix of FKA Twigs, Doja Cat, and PinkPantheress… and you have Helen. 

Hailing from Washington D.C., the rising star arrives on the music scene with her own version of alternative R&B, diving deep into her experiences as a black woman while encouraging other woman-identifying individuals to do the same. Her smooth and sultry vocals pair perfectly with her lyricism, always promoting female empowerment and unapologetic confidence at all times.

In describing herself, Helen states, “I’m a girl from Ethiopia who loves to do music, that’s the thing I love to do the most in the world. I want to share it with the world and just make people feel good.”

Most recently, Helen unveiled her newest project titled Ubiquitous, a 7-track EP that showcases her best work to date. Ubiquitous is spear-headed by lead single “Talk,” as Helen continues to use her voice to celebrate all black woman-identifying individuals.

Last year, her single “Bitter Bi**h” also landed in the Netflix hit film Do Revenge.

Sheen spoke with Helen about her roots, her sound, biggest influences, the new project, landing a song in a Netflix film, goals, and more!

How would you describe your sound?

I would say it is unlimited. Right now, I am doing more pop than R&B. That’s where I’m at. But again, unlimited. So that could change. [laughs] 

You’re originally from Ethiopia? 

I am. I was born there and I came here to the US at 7 years old. 

Where did you move to?

Silver Spring, Maryland. I’m currently there right now. 

Talking about your roots, does that play into music at all?

A bit. Coming from a homogenous country to a country where it’s very diverse, was really different. That plays into my experiences just living here as a black woman. It was really hard when I first moved here, I was really close with my distant family. My aunts and uncles, I was very close with them. They helped raise me. 

Coming here with my mom and dad, I felt very isolated. It was something really hard to adjust to. I also didn’t speak the language and that was a huge barrier to get past because kids are not the nicest stuff at that age. Getting past that was really difficult, but it made me a stronger person. Seeing the challenges that come with being a black woman, as I continued to live here, were somewhat surprising. But it made me appreciate myself more, my culture more, and the black community outside of Africa and the diaspora really.

Biggest influences coming up?

There are many. I do look up to Michael Jackson a lot in terms of sound and music. Obviously love Beyonce. I look up to artists like Lizzo. I also like to draw inspiration from a lot of smaller artists. Bree Runway is one of the artists that I love recently, she’s really great. Another strong figure in the music industry, who’s a black woman and pushes the limit to what black women could do in the music industry. A lot of them, I can’t really pick one.

Talk about releasing your new EP, Ubiquitous. How does it feel to have it out?

I feel amazing. I’ve been wanting to release an EP or an album for so long, but I couldn’t decide what I really wanted to focus on and what kind of sound I wanted it to have. I’ve been releasing singles, which is so different than having a collective project. But it was really fun, I’ve learned a lot. I’m looking forward to releasing more projects and more music, seeing what else could come out really. It’s been great, a lot of people are excited for it. I had to put myself in a vulnerable position to write this style of music and bring my stories forth, which was a challenge in itself. But again, it’s made me stronger as an artist and as a person. 

What do you want fans to take away from the project? 

For black women that are listening to this, and other women of color that’d probably be going through similar situations. I want them to know they’re worthy of anything great. That they can love themselves, and that they don’t need validation from anybody else. But at the same time, it’s okay to feel frustrated, to be angry and to feel sad. You don’t have to be that strong woman all the time and that’s okay. To people that have other black women or other POC in their lives, to appreciate us more and love us more. To be aware of societal issues that are there and really play your part and check your privilege. [laughs]

Talk about designing, styling and directing and shooting your own visuals. 

I’ve done a lot of my own photo shoots and visuals up until this project. That’s been another aspect of me that I’d like to grow and discover more. I’d definitely consider myself more of an amateur when it comes to photography and creative direction, but I see a lot of influences from TikTok and want to incorporate that into my music. Try to tie those two worlds together. 

With Ubiquitous, I found a lot of people that helped me create this on TikTok as well. The hairstylist, she’s a model who does black hairstyles. I reached out to her and said “hey, the style you do really resonates with what I’m trying to incorporate into my music. I’d love to have you work on this.” It was the same with the makeup artist I came about, they are a great person. Same with the photographer. 

Really honing down on what I wanted this project to be with the creative direction was a bit difficult. Working with other people and trying to communicate that with others was a challenge, but in the best way possible. It was really great. 

Talk about your song “Bitter Bi**h” being featured in the Netflix film Do Revenge

Honestly, the biggest blessing that I’ve had so far in my music career. I randomly got a message through my email a little over a year ago now. I was working my 9 to 5 job, kind of depressed. [laughs] I received this email like, is this a scam? Am I getting scammed? Why would you just reach out to me about this? 

But it wasn’t a scam. It was amazing. I got invited to go to the premiere, got to go to California and live out my dream really. I got to hear it in the Netflix theater, my song being played in a Netflix movie. I can’t believe this is happening, I never expected it. It’s just amazing. I’ve had so many amazing people reach out and say “the song has made me feel so amazing and so confident and ready to take on the world.” I wrote that song because I wanted myself to feel that way, and it’s so nice to see other people feeling that way. It’s been a huge blessing. 

Do you have any goals for yourself? 

I’ve always wanted to put myself first and my dreams first. I want to explore again, more sides of my music and more sides of myself. See how much I could push the box and get out of that box really.

Anything else you want to let the people know? 

Thank you for listening if you’re listening, and I hope you enjoy this EP. 

Photo Credits: Maria Herrena