Versatile Austin balances family and career

Award-winning singer/songwriter Helen Austin is living two lives.

HELEN AUSTIN DIVIDES her time between Courtenay and Los Angeles.

HELEN AUSTIN DIVIDES her time between Courtenay and Los Angeles.

Award-winning singer/songwriter Helen Austin is living two lives. In Courtenay she’s wife and mother to two, writes music and plays gigs with her daughter, Daisy. In L.A. she heads to the recording studio at noon and and

spends nine hours sipping whiskey with young men in tight jeans while

recording her new CD.

Austin’s heading to Los Angeles in mid-April to put the finishing touches on

her album. While there, she’ll attend the first annual Indie Music Channel

Awards ceremony in the prestigious Foundation Room of House of Blues on

Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, Calif.

And she’s not going to just join the party; she’s nominated for five awards:

Best Alternative Video under $5,000, Best Female Artist, Best Soundtrack for

a Female Artist, Best Song on a Soundtrack, Best Acoustic Song and Album of the Year.

Closer to home, Austin’s also nominated for Female Songwriter of the Year

for the Vancouver Island Music Awards.

“The L.A. connection happened after I signed exclusively with the independent

music publishing company pigFACTORY,” explains Austin. “They’re really into

promoting my music, which is great.”

pigFACTORY, who has also handled recordings and songs by Def Leppard, Iggy Pop, Jordin Sparks and others, sent Austin to L.A. in February to start work on the CD with well-known songwriter-producer Bleu.

“Really, it’s a bit weird,” Austin admits. “The other musicians are all

younger than me and live a totally different lifestyle. But it’s fun and I

really enjoy working with them and leading an alternate life once in a


pigFACTORY had been asking Austin for an exclusive contract for some time.

“I resisted at first because I wanted to keep my options open,” says Austin.

“But I also knew they would push me in some good ways if I made the


So pigFACTORY is funding Austin’s next CD which includes springing for a

string quartet for a couple of songs, hiring an award-winning mixer in

Boston and creating a music video.

“It’s great to have that support and feedback,” Austin says. “I don’t have

to worry about or organize anything for the CD; they take care of it all.

But the pressure is on. I’ve worked really hard to get to this place and now

I feel like I have to work harder. And it’s odd when someone says, ‘Can you

write another hit song this week?’ As if I can just sit down and do it!”

But Austin, a prolific singer/songwriter from the UK now living in the Comox

Valley, is no slouch when it comes to being creative. Formerly an

award-winning musical comedian and headliner on the UK comedy circuit, she’s now focusing on writing, producing and performing her music.

Some examples of Austin’s dedication: a few years ago she set – and met –

her goal of writing a song a week for a year and she’s placed many of her

songs on television. Recent successes include a European commercial for

Nivea, the World of Jenks and Teen Mom on MTV, A Paribas commercial on BNP and a commercial for Dunkin’ Donuts. She also blogs, Tweets and makes entries on her Facebook page and updates her website on a regular basis.

“But even with everything that’s going on, what gives me the most joy

career-wise these days is having my daughter, Daisy, on stage with me for

local gigs. Daisy plays fiddle and does backup vocals and is a real asset

when it comes to the sound.”

Austin acknowledges that it’s hard to make it in the music industry.

“Everyone wants to be an immediate success,” she says. “But there is no

quick way in music. You have to work really hard and make your own decisions

and your own mistakes. That’s how you learn how the industry works.”

“And after you write and record something, you have to be involved in the

marketing,” she adds. “Building a fan base is up to the artist. You have to

do your best to make interesting comments on Facebook and Twitter, join

conversations on music blogs and be visible in the music community.”

Austin doesn’t do much touring these days but admits it’s hard to be away

from her family for weeks at a time while recording.

“It’s easier now that my kids are older,” she says. “And my husband is

wonderful. We just started using Skype which really helps as now I can see

everyone’s smiling face.”

To find out what Austin’s up to next, watch videos or listen to songs visit





Comox Valley Record