Montreal singer Helena Deland doesn’t subscribe to any “say yes” movements, but she did go through a phase two years ago of pouncing on every creative project that came her way, no matter how odd or embarrassing. “When music entered my life, it was like I’d been waiting for it all along,” says the velvet-voiced singer, whose latest ethereal release “Altogether Unaccompanied” comes in four numbered, EP-length volumes (“I,” “II,” III” and “IV”). “So I decided not to say no to anything music related, to say yes instead, because I wanted to do as much as possible.” She hasn’t doubted herself since.
What were some of the weirdest things you said yes to?
Well, I sang backing vocals and some of the lead vocals on this arena-rock project, and a hip-hop project, as well. Some I can’t talk about because I don’t want to offend anyone else involved. But I did some strange things. I had to write a hook for an ad for some secondary makeup company — I can’t remember what it was called. But I was sent the PowerPoint presentation with what kind of vibe they were looking for with the song. But the PowerPoint was riddled with mistakes, so obviously they didn’t really care, and they didn’t even end up using the thing that I wrote. So I basically wrote a little song specifically for internal use. That was a weird one.
What did you learn from two years of blind agreement?
I learned how to pick who I wanted to work with, basically, and to trust my instinct. And another thing I got out of it was, when I’m asked if I want to participate in something, I have three criteria: Is the music any good? Are the people any fun? And is the money “interesting,” in quotation marks? And if two of those criteria are met, I’ll do it.
You wanted to be a jet-setting international translator. How did you get into songwriting?
That’s a really good question. I just started doing it, basically. And I absolutely loved it — still do. And I’m really, really excited about my day to day life right now. There are a lot of days off spent writing and figuring out just how to put a song together. Or I’m touring, traveling and living with a few people on the road, people who you have to learn to get along with. An then comes the actual moment when I’m performing live. I feel like I’m pursuing something, running after something, because writing songs is hard for me — it’s like a quest.
IF YOU GO
Helena Deland, Buzzy Lee
Where: Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market St., S.F.
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 13
Tickets: $15 to $17
Contact: (415) 375-3370, www.eventbrite.com