Manx born singer firmly in kontrol

in Local People

Given the amount of time they have played on the Isle of Man so far, it is quite difficult not to have heard of The Baltic States.

Already this year they have visited here twice, and over TT week have played six gigs.

However, the local exposure is nothing to the momentum they are gaining throughout the UK and, indeed, internationally.

The Liverpool-based three piece feature Manx singer Helen Morrison, 27, on vocals, alongside two Latvians, multi-instrumentalist and composer Jev Maligins and percussionist Vad Sidoroff.

They are in the middle of a UK-wide tour, in support of their recent EP, ’Brother’, and were recently invited to play at the huge Sound City festival in Liverpool.

A further EP is scheduled for release in the autumn.

Certainly by the strength of their live performances over here, their star is guaranteed to rise and rise.

Their music is a genuine sensorial thrill, a perfect blend of electronica indie music, synth pop and techno, and is brought spectacularly to life by Helen’s amazing singing.

She is possessed with a beautiful, haunting voice, and gives a very real, honest element to the synthetic elements in the bands music.

Defining their music is difficult, with so many eclectic influences dragging the artists in different ways.

’For us it is hard to define because we mix everything up,’ said Jev.

’Our influences are different. Vad comes from heavy metal and jazz. Mine would be Nirvana, from my younger days and Prodigy. Now it is more alternative electronica music. Helen would be different again.’

’I definitely like strong female singers and artists that have nice easy hooks to follow,’ said Helen. ’I really like Florence and the Machine, and Kate Bush. Jeff Buckley and Radiohead too. I think every single piece of music you listen to influences you subconsciously.’

Helen attended Ballakermeen high school, and played and studied piano from the age of seven, and played the cornet with the Manx Concert brass band up until the age of 18, and also played with the local group, The Heights, who were hugely popular while they were in existence.

In 2010 she left the island to study at LIPA, the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. There she met and formed a highly regarded group called The Wretched Pearls, who featured Norwegian and English musicians.

’I studied a popular music degree at LIPA, which was very hands on and practical,’ she said.

’They looked at how to construct songs. There was music theory, but it was all very practical. They put people together in bands to try and encourage creativity to flourish, and that’s where the Wretched Pearls formed.’

Jev met Helen at a Wretched Pearls gig, and asked her if she would sing on some of his new songs.

’Now I am really, really enjoying playing with this band now.

Jev is an absolute powerhouse of a man, who continually works and never sleeps.’

One of the songs that Helen sang on originally was a song called ’Kontrol’, which has gone on to achieve considerable success for the group.

A video produced for the song has been viewed on YouTube more than 65,000 times, and the band were surprised to find out that it had been used as a sound track on two US TV series’, ’Unreal TV and ’Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce’.

The Baltic States have two more dates left to play this week, one at the Mitre in Ramsey tonight (Thursday) and on the Port Erin beach stage tomorrow evening. Then they return to the UK and carry on with a relentless gigging schedule that will take them from Bristol to Edinbrough, Glasgow, London and Belfast, before returning to the island for the Dark Horse festival in July.

However, no matter how far she goes with the Baltic States, her heart still remains here at home in the island.

’I moved to Liverpool in 2010, and I stayed there since, but I really miss the Isle of Man though.

’There is not much scope for pushing the music onwards here. You have to leave the island every time you want to do something, or just to play a gig.

But I do miss it so much. Liverpool is great and it is nice that is has that connection with the rest of the UK.

I really miss the nature, and the one degree of separation between you and everybody else.

’I know that can get claustrophobic sometimes, but I really like that aspect.

’Liverpool is now where I’m based, but it’s not my home. My home is still the Isle of Man.’

Their ’Brother’ EP is dedicated to Helen’s brother Jack Morrison, who died tragically after a short illness in 2011.

by Mike Wade


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