Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Ohio’s Hooked Like Helen. Together we discussed their influences, being on Radio Disney, their creative process, their newest single “Streamers and Balloons”, and so much more!
1. Mustard is grateful to have Hooked Like Helen join them at Music Shelf. How is everyone?
We are doing great! Thanks so much for inviting us to chat with you!
2. You are hooked like Helen. Mustard wonders which Helen is hooked.
Haha ok so Hooked Like Helen is technically Nikki and Jon. We’re together in music and in life; we just celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary on the 5th, and we’ve been in bands together for even longer. Both of us are hooked…:)
3. You get the opportunity to cast a music video featuring exclusively Helen’s. Who do you cast?
Can we cast a Helena? Cuz people often tell me (Nikki) I give Helena Bonham Carter vibes which I am absolutely here for. Also Helen Mirren for sure.
4. Who (or what) influences Hooked Like Helen?
The world. Our internal darkness. Queen, Adele, Muse, Prince, Green Day, Kate Bush (before Stranger Things haha), Twenty One Pilots, Michael Jackson, Billie Eilish, Deftones, it’s a whole spectrum of things.
5. What is Hooked Like Helen’s creative process?
We have a home studio where we track most of our stuff, then we collab with producers etc. via the Internet or occasionally in person when we take trips down to Nashville. We do a lot of self-producing as well. Nikki is the primary songwriter but Jon is her muse and their creativity peaks when they are together.
6. In 2016 you released “Surface Break.” What was the inspiration behind this single? Is this song a commentary on the climate crisis?
“Surface Break” is about forgiving yourself and learning to believe in a newer, higher version of you. As recovering addicts, this has been a really prominent theme in our lives, especially at the time that it was written. It was used in a Davis Guggenheim documentary about the struggles of immigrants’ children and we were awe-inspired with how beautifully it fit into the segment of the film. At the end of the day, it’s a song about hope.
7. Mustard loves the cover art for your single “Get Well.” Could you share the inspiration behind this single?
“Get Well” was another song from the newly-sober era in our lives. Really it’s a tribute to our son, Augie, who – when we discovered Nikki was pregnant with him – instantly became our reason to “get well” and change our lives for the better by getting clean.We knew it was going to be in the movie, it was a years-long process, but hearing it with a live orchestra behind it and seeing the actors and dancers move so beautifully to it on the silver screen was a highlight of our career for sure.
8. How did it feel to have your single “Liar” premiere on Radio Disney? Does Hooked Like Helen have a favorite Disney film?
That was a great day haha. It was surreal and we were filled with gratitude! Nikki is absolutely obsessed with Disney; Jon has strict instructions to scatter her ashes inside the Indiana Jones ride over the flaming bridge of skulls at Disneyland should she perish before he does haha. Don’t tell the mouse though, apparently they frown upon ash-scattering at the Disney Theme Parks haha.
Favorite Disney films: Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Alice in Wonderland
9. It also was featured apart of the film High Strung: Free Dance. Did you know in advance it was going to be in the film or was it a surprise?
So we had posted an iPhone vid to our Youtube channel of Nikki singing and playing “Liar” and kinda forgot about it. A few months later we received a call from Michael Damian, the director of HSFD, saying he wanted to use the song in his upcoming film. So we flew out to LA and re-tracked it with session musicians at Studio City Sound. Michael and his wife, Janeen, hadn’t even finished writing the script for Free Dance at that time, but they were so enamored with “Liar” that they ended up writing the whole scene from the film around the lyrics of the song. Which is a TRIP and so amazing. So to answer your question: yes, we definitely knew it was going to be in the movie, it was a years-long process, but hearing it with a live orchestra behind it and seeing the actors and dancers move so beautifully to it on the silver screen was a highlight of our career for sure.
10. Hooked Like Helen has also had songs featured in the Netflix docu-series “CHEERS” along with MTV’s Unlocking The Truth. How does it feel to be featured in these popular programs? Is there a specific process an artist must go through to get their music featured in television and films?
Getting into sync in film and tv is a weird thing and every situation is different. The most fun we’ve had being involved with this world was the custom composing we did for CHEER because the turnaround time was so quick, and Nikki was producing these tracks specifically to fit the different scenes. She worked closely with CHEER’s production team to make sure the music was fitting the emotion and vision. It was a musical exercise and SO rewarding.
11. You recently released the first single “Streamers and Balloons” off your upcoming EP? What can fans expect from this EP? How does “Streamers and Balloons” set the stage?
“Streamers & Balloons” is almost the closing of an older chapter, rather than the setting of a new stage. Which is weird because it’s the new single and the first single in quite some time…basically we have built a brand new team around us and we are headed in a new and exciting musical direction. “Streamers & Balloons” was actually written during the early stages of the pandemic and is basically going to close out the era of the adult contemporary piano ballad for us. Our new music is a lot heavier, more rock driven, and definitely a departure from what you’re used to hearing from us. It’s scary but it feels 100% right to evolve in this way.
12. A human gets invited to see Hooked like Helen live. What kind of show can they expect?
A fucking hurricane! We are crazy on stage haha, Jon and I just can’t contain our energy when we are out there in front of a live audience! We’ve been affectionately referred to as animals, and we’ve even been told that Nikki’s creepy pop-and-lock moves give “The Ring” vibes and make people feel like they need a valium after an HLH show to calm the nerves haha. You can expect to rock out with some monsters at a Hooked Like Helen show.
13. What’s next for Hooked like Helen?
We are in a whirlwind of all things good and all things rock- and-roll at the moment. We’ve got a whole bunch of new music ready for release, we’re just coming up with the plan of attack. Probably a tour in the Spring, lots of stuff to come!
14. Where can readers listen to your music?
All the major platforms and even some minor ones! Spotify, Amazon, Apple, Youtube, etc…here’s all the links:
New single “Streamers & Balloons”: https://onerpm.link/686015639933 Tragedy of Physics EP: https://Hooked-Like-Helen.lnk.to/tragedyofphysicsEM Settle for Earth EP: https://Hooked-Like-Helen.lnk.to/settleforearthEM
Official Site: https://www.hookedlikehelen.com