The Secretly Canadian Newsletter

Helen Ballentine – who records as Skullcrusher – is quietly, but firmly, securing her position as one of the country’s most exciting young songwriters. Her June 2020 debut EP, a collection of four impressive and intriguing songs titled simply Skullcrusher EP, resulted in immediate international attention. Caught slightly off guard by the response to her very first offerings, but no doubt buoyed by the acclaim for the dark, dreamy and hypnotically enthralling songs, Los Angeles-based Ballentine spent the Fall back on the East Coast, in rural New York State, working on new material with her Skullcrusher collaborator Noah Weinman. October saw the release of two new tracks – “Farm” and a cover of Radiohead’s “Lift” – and today sees a brand new track, “Song For Nick Drake, out now on Secretly Canadian

Listen To “Song For Nick Drake”

Says Ballentine, “Song for Nick Drake” is about my relationship to the music of Nick Drake. It recalls moments in my life that are viscerally intertwined with his music, specifically times spent walking & taking the train. The song is really my homage to music and the times I felt most immersed in it.” 

Ballentine, whose arrival on the Los Angeles music scene was sparked by an urgent creative need to quit her art gallery 9-5 and find a more fulfilling place in the world, has an extensive background in visual arts. She has been playing music for most of her life – piano from age five, guitar since high school – but her songwriting didn’t emerge until later. After moving from her home in upstate New York to Southern California to study studio art in college, Ballentine was working full-time at a Los Angeles gallery, poised to continue onto the trajectory of visual art she had been on since she was a teenager. It didn’t feel right, and she quit. It was then that she suddenly found songwriting to be the best avenue for her artistic visions. As influenced by ambient electronica as she is by the aforementioned Nick Drake, Ballentine’s songwriting paints diaristic vignettes; delicate, woozy images that swirl around in the often intricate instrumentation. It’s a skill that has rightfully earned her widespread acclaim as one of music’s most exciting, and intriguing, new talents.


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