Lerner on the Lawn – Hooked Like Helen
Thursday, September 28 @ 6:00 pmFree
In a house in the woods about 40 miles west of Cleveland, Hooked Like Helen began as the musical brainstorms of husband-and-wife, Jon and Nikki Stipp. Experimental home recordings quickly developed into an alt-pop vision; within a year of the project’s inception, Nikki and Jon had shaped a new sound that reflected their truth and their influences in a seamless blend of organic and electronic production. The band’s 2019 five song EP, Tragedy Of Physics, co-produced by Nikki and long-time friend and collaborator, Grammy-winning Isha Erskine (Ziggy Marley, The Black Eyed Peas), garnered international attention: The music video for the angsty-beautiful piano ballad “Liar” premiered on Radio Disney platforms and received a nomination for Best Independent Music Video from the esteemed Hollywood Music in Media Awards. The song was included in an emotional scene in the motion picture, High Strung: Free Dance and subsequently generated a flood of streams and downloads via the film’s soundtrack. Starring Thomas Doherty (Disney’s Descendants 2 and 3), and Jane Seymour, the film was released on Netflix on May 31st, 2020 and prominently features “Liar” in an emotional, groundbreaking dance sequence choreographed by Tyce Diorio (So You Think You Can Dance, Taylor Swift’s ‘ME!’)
Hooked Like Helen is the recent recipient of several prestigious accolades in the independent music scene: Nikki and Jon were honored with Duo Of The Year and EP Of The Year at the 6th and 7th annual Josie Music Awards respectively, boasting a total of 9 nominations in multiple categories of the largest independent award show in the world. “Liar” was recently named a winner in the distinguished International Songwriting Competition for the second consecutive year, following wins in two categories in ISC’s sister competition, Unsigned Only in 2020. The panel of judges included Charli XCX, Robert Smith and Grouplove among other well-respected industry legends.
Hooked Like Helen’s Tragedy Of Physics EP has been decorated with acclaim by several leading music publications. The first single, “No Turning Back”, was premiered by CLASH Magazine who praised it as “a soaring, vastly uplifting piece of bouncy, addictive alt-pop”. The EP’s 2nd single, “Tear This Place Apart”, premiered via the highly influential UK-based The Line Of Best Fit and received rave reviews from the magazine.
Nikki and Jon have managed to flourish musically during a period of instability in the world and the band is incredibly humbled and grateful to be thriving. 2020 began with a set of custom musical placements in the wildly popular, 3 time Emmy winning Netflix docu-series, CHEER. Nikki composed tracks for 9 pivotal scenes across the 6 episode series, including the final credits for episodes 2 and 3. The 2021 Sports Emmy-nominated docu-series, Golden: The Journey of USA’s Elite Gymnasts features 7 pieces of music composed by Nikki, courtesy of her working relationship with BMG. Hooked Like Helen has a bit of a history of scoring music for docu-series’; previously, the band’s tracks “Get Well”, “Surface Break”, and “Concrete Tub” were placed on MTV’s Unlocking The Truth and were included on the show’s official Spotify playlist. “Surface Break” was also featured in the emotional final segment of Davis Guggenheim’s poignant documentary, The Dream Is Now which chronicles the struggles of the children of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
The band enjoyed several very successful live residencies at world-renowned Cedar Point in 2020 and 2021, performing for a diverse and international audience who immediately adored Hooked Like Helen’s universal musical appeal and dynamic, energetic stage show. Other notable performances include a set at the beautiful 1700 seat Lerner Theatre in Elkhart Indiana this past summer in which the band wowed a local audience during a community Artwalk Festival. In May 2020, during the first chapter of the COVID pandemic, the duo had the privilege of playing a livestream from the historic 1500 seat Sandusky State Theatre. This show was broadcast to local fans via the Sandusky Register and became the last live performance to occur on the Sandusky State Theatre stage before the iconic venue was severely damaged in a storm on June 10th. Fox 8 News Cleveland aired clips from the Hooked Like Helen livestream on June 12th, 2020.
Hooked Like Helen recently signed with international booking agency, TKO (The Ataris, Soul Asylum). The band is currently collaborating with several talented and well-established producers in Music City including the multi GRAMMY award-winning, platinum-selling Skidd Mills and the brilliant Noah Henson (Pillar, Brantley Gilbert). The band’s new single, “Streamers & Balloons” was released on October 28th and their cover of “Winter” by Tori Amos premiered on Cleveland Scene Magazine on January 6th.
Hooked Like Helen’s sound embodies a unique vein of alternative music; dark lyrical themes of unresolved trauma and existential pondering provide a refreshingly authentic perspective. The rawness of Nikki’s voice pulls the listener through heavy subject matter on a vessel of commercially friendly sonic sensibilities. This stark juxtaposition of darkness and light creates a sort of musical chemical reaction that lingers on the mind long after the first listen. A lush universe of layered harmonies and intricately woven polyphony carry us through a chaotic and sad world view but leave us almost inexplicably with a sense of hope. The songs of Hooked Like Helen exist in a timeless, ageless vacuum in which melody reigns supreme.
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