Hooked Like Helen
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, 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!’).
Popularity of “Liar” spread like wildfire in the dance community; talented influencers began to perform their own choreographed dances to the song, inspiring a viral effect among young dancers across the globe. Notably, Instagram superstar Autumn Miller shared an emotional performance to “Liar” on the platform, and acrobatic TikTok queens, The Rybka Twins, posted their lyrical interpretation of the song on social media as well. Renowned choreographer Mark Meismer created a lyrical piece to "Liar" for the dance tutorial platform, The Space TV and the song became an instant inspiration for lyrical dancers the world over.
Hooked Like Helen is the recent recipient of several prestigious accolades in the independent music scene: Nikki and Jon were honored with the Duo Of The Year award at the 6th annual Josie Music Awards held in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee this past September, and they are nominated in four categories for the 2021 event. "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 docu-series, Golden: The Journey of USA's Elite Gymnasts features 7 pieces of music composed by Nikki. 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 a very successful live residency at world-renowned Cedar Point this past August, performing for a diverse and international audience who immediately adored Hooked Like Helen’s universal musical appeal and dynamic, energetic stage show. The residency follows a performance at the beautiful 1700 seat Lerner Theatre in Elkhart Indiana on July 14th 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 beautifully painted 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 is currently working in their home studio, preparing new music for release in winter 2021. The forthcoming EP will be HLH's first entirely self-produced release; Nikki's role as sole producer is underway in what she describes as the natural, logical progression of the project. The duo’s sound embodies a unique vein of pop music; haunting, layered harmonies and lush vocal arrangements create a surreal atmosphere of simultaneous melancholy and hope, dissonance and resolve. Dark lyrical themes of existential pondering provide an eerie contrast to HLH’s sonic sensibilities in a timeless, ageless context in which melody reigns supreme. Piano hooks, intricate, rhythmic bass lines, and driving drums carry the songs of Hooked Like Helen through a slightly sad world view, always with a groove and a constant sense of Pop.