Hooked Like Helen
In a house in the woods on the outskirts of Sandusky, Ohio, Hooked Like Helen began as the musical brainstorms of husband-and-wife, Jon and Nikki Stipp. Experimental home recordings quickly developed into an alternative 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!’).
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.
Nikki and Jon's roots in sync placement run deep. Nikki composed tracks for 9 pivotal scenes across the 6 episodes of the wildly popular, 3 time Emmy winning Netflix docu-series, CHEER, 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.
Hooked Like Helen signed with international booking agency, TKO (Filter, Buckcherry) early this year and just completed their first national tour with Icon For Hire on a 29-city run. The band opened for Jewel and Taylor Hicks in June, and performed as direct support for PVRIS at Sandusky Pride 2023. This summer and fall are shaping up to be action-packed for HLH; they are slated to open for Blood, Sweat & Tears on a string of July dates, to headline The Lerner on the Lawn series in Elkhart, IN, and will be hitting the road on another national tour in September.
Prior to joining TKO, HLH 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.
The band is presently 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 single, "Sleepwalker" was released on May 12th and its message of hope for addiction recovery immediately resonated with fans across the country. Nikki will be celebrating 11 years of sobriety in August and she is honored to use the band's platform to call attention to the ongoing epidemic of addiction.
HLH 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 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 sound embodies a unique vein of alternative music; dark lyrical themes of childhood trauma and substance abuse are crafted into relatable sing-a-long anthems of hope and resilience. In a timeless, ageless context in which melody reigns supreme, the band’s songs oscillate between moments of intimate piano/vocal arrangements and intense Rock and Roll. This juxtaposition of vulnerability and fierceness is evinced in the band’s incredibly dynamic live show, and is truly at the heart of who Hooked Like Helen is.