Helen of Coi is Chelsea, Alabama-native Lindsay Shante’s electro-psych-pop project currently out of Birmingham. Shante, classically trained yet utterly eclectic, composes a dreamy, synthy witch’s brew of sounds and beats that are infectious, soothing, and even anthemic. It’s also somehow a bit unsettling, which, to me, is a good thing. Tomorrow, Helen of Coi launches their Southeast summer tour, and Shante graciously agreed to answer a few questions about her music, life, badass Southern women, and the big, bright future in front of her. Also, I’ve included below some good ways to acquaint yourselves with a bit of the beauty this artist has to offer, and ultimately find your way to the closest venue where you can witness Helen of Coi with your own eyes.
On her music:
Well, it’s ever-evolving and eclectic. As a classical music alumni I only read music off of a page from age 5 til about 2009. I began writing minimal, modern electronic music on a few synths and began looping, influenced by the works of Terry Riley, Wendy Carlos & Laurie Anderson. At the time I also began playing in a psychedelic indie band, Sea Cycles, and a candy pop project, Personal Boy. Then I morphed into downtempo witch house/experimental electronic and started a chill/dancey ladylectronica two-piece called Ritual Union with Alex E of Tomboi in Jacksonville, FL. After a few successful albums and tours I got pregnant and needed my parents help being a single mother so I moved back to Bham and began the early workings of Helen of Coi. I was without a car at the time and basically when I wasn’t breastfeeding or playing with my infant daughter, Juni, I was in the basement writing, practicing and slowly getting a live solo set together. Helen of Coi began as an experimental, paranormal, ambient, soundtrack project but now has held onto those elements and transformed into psych-pop with moments of ethereal, drone, trance, vocal and kaossilator loops with old school beats and buzzy, warm bass.
On the South:
Your environment has a huge effect on your art and life. The South can be a wonderful place to create with so much cultural and natural inspiration but religious oppression is often a discouraging factor. I am totally inspired by nature and Appalachia is a prime location for foraging and hiking which is apart of my weekly routine. Growing up in rural Alabama and being in the forest everyday gave me a love for the outdoors; It grounded me and continues to give me a source of comfort.
My parents are extremely conservative and are not supportive of my career choices or my aspirations in music or art in general. Yes, they put me in lessons and were even okay with me majoring in classical music but have expressed their distaste for my original music. I write and play music for life, health, clarity and now for little Juni. Maybe my parent’s disapproval pushes me harder and makes me want to pursue my goals even more? Ha. Fortunately I have a wonderfully magical, creative brother who is an amazing artist that totally gets it. We are collaborating on a few nature-based live art/music shows this upcoming year. Check out his art on Facebook at Little Forest and on Instagram at @littleforest_. Stay tuned for fantastical art magic.
On the future:
My hope is to sustain myself and Juni by writing, recording, tracking, performing, and teaching original music. I also hope my music transcends boundaries and is relatable and can console or even heal others. I think music is a powerful medicine if used and received properly. Something that in today’s society is underrated. I hope I can tap into that channel that connects others offering them light and hope.
I have been on this path for several years and it has been a winding one but I now see that all my life was preparing me for this moment in my career. The convergence of my sound healing studies, classical background, and love for minimalism and the natural world is forming a unique career that I am beginning to get really excited about. I have recently begun leading a series of vocal toning/drone/chakra cleansing workshops throughout the southeast and have had a tremendously positive response. After all the universe is a beautiful and strange symphony of frequencies.
On her inspirations and influences:
I try to be inspired by everyone I come in contact with. Everyone has a lesson to teach. Even if we have negative encounters, there is a positive message to take away. We are influenced highly by our surroundings and can take inspiration in the small moments & interactions in everyday life.
Merrilee Challis, founder of Bottletree and artist @merilka
Raven Dewitt, Birmingham vegan chef & magical being @flower_beast
Virginia Newcomb, Actress & Film production queen @virginianewcomb
Christina Daniels, artist, graphic designer @christinadaniel.design @daggerfingers
Lindsay Whiteaker, farmer, herbalist, fermenter, brewer, midwife @harvestrootsfarm
Jeannine Freed, herbalist, designer, artist, farmer @sanctuaryfarms @jeanninefreed
On Southern women or non-binary or trans Southerners making music that we should all be listening to:
Tomboi, Heavy Flow, Four Families, Insel, Zenosyne, Tristen, Ruby the Rabbitfoot, Christian Folmar, Breely Flower, Rachael Roberts, Erin Demastes, Yvonne Lambert and all the gals at Girls Rock Bham, Girls Rock Jacksonville, Girls Rock New Orleans, Girls Rock Atlanta
On her turntable:
Blue Hawaii, Hundred Waters, FKA twigs, Little Dragon, Prince Rama, Purity Ring & 18+ are wonderful and chill femme electronic project that I’m super into. Eno, Abba, Air, always and forever. Caribou, Royksopp & Robyn, Kavinsky, Tame Impala, Gold Panda, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Beach House, James Blake, Phantogram, duh. Baths, Holy Other, XXYYXX, Nosaj Thing, oOoOO, Jon Hopkins are my more out there electronic favs. Local and regional musical bbs are Ether Chambles, Meridian, Holly Waxwing, CHAOTE, Navigateur, Jovani Occomy, Mothers, Dot.s, Wray, Holy Youth & GT.
July 8: Firehouse/Birmingham
July 12: The Sanctuary/Montgomery
July 13: Circle Bar/New Orleans (my bday show!)
July 14: The Merry Widow/Mobile
July 15: Mudlark Public Theatre/New Orleans
July 16: Odaiba/Pensacola
July 17: 1904/Jacksonville
July 18: Hostel in the Forest/Brunswick
July 19: 40 Watt/Athens
July 20: Fresh Produce Records/Macon
July 21: Alley Cat Music Club/Atlanta
July 22: Desert Island Supply Co./Birmingham
July 23: Spice Radio/Huntsville
July 23: Hops Wild/Huntsville
July 24: Basement East/Nashville
August 2: The Nick/Birmingham