Premiere: Helenor’s New Single “Tattoo” Tells a Story of Spontaneous Permanence

Helenor © Kevin Spies
Helenor © Kevin Spies
Brooklyn-based visual artist and songwriter Helenor captures the unexpected warmth of permanent marks in his new synth-folk single, “Tattoo.”
Stream: “Tattoo” – Helenor

It takes an intuitively skilled songwriter to hook their listeners into a song with a set of lyrics that repeat a total of fifteen times within the span of only four minutes. Of course, Helenor’s brand new single, “Tattoo,” also contains a number of verse and bridge stanzas, elegantly straying from the lyrics of the chorus. But the chorus itself is a simple repetition of one central phrase that seems to hit harder every time you hear it.

Tattoo - Helenor
Tattoo – Helenor
I gave you a tattoo
On that floor
And you can’t take it back

These lines were inspired by a house party that David DiAngelis, the central creator behind Helenor, attended in the South Shore of Massachusetts, while living in Boston. After cramming into his ‘87 Chevy, one of DiAngelis’ friends divulged that they had brought a tattoo machine and wanted him to give them a tattoo. Once they arrived at the party, DiAngelis agreed to give tattoos to people while sitting on the kitchen floor, despite his lack of experience. He gave a celebrity portrait tattoo to his friend and a constellation tattoo to a girl who proceeded to leave the party and never be seen by DiAngelis or his friends again.

I picked you up
We packed into
The Chevy was
A rusty baby blue
Screamin’ a song
‘Til we spilled out
Your father’s not home
You got keys to his house
Helenor © RlyBlonde
Helenor © RlyBlonde

“When I listen back to it, the lyrics feel like they could just as well be about a long-term relationship and not this dumb party,” recalls DiAngelis about the song’s origins. There is an undeniable level of depth to Helenor’s words which translate themselves with a sense of relatability extending beyond his specific experience. Writers often use tattoos to symbolize some sort of permanent mark left by something or someone in their past. It is refreshing to hear an artist reflect on the experience of leaving that kind of permanent mark on someone else, whether it be a close friend, a partner, or a stranger.

It was the first time
Holding that machine
I’m sure she’ll remember me

Whether you have given someone a tattoo or not, we have all left permanent imprints on the memories of people in our lives. This kind of mark is etched far deeper than even a tattoo can pierce the skin. We are constantly being altered and changed in little ways by our relationships, which must inversely mean that we have the power to change the lives of those we love as well. Helenor reminds us of this impact and the permanent effect of the moments we share with others. He also captures the feeling of being strangers in passing, the fleeting glances and words that can either glide over us like water or sink in deep enough to be remembered for years to come.

Helenor © RlyBlonde
Helenor © RlyBlonde

The DIY video of this song includes a montage of people showing their tattoos for the camera to see. “I passed around a Google Drive link for people to submit (videos), and harassed anyone I saw for a week to let me film them,” explains DiAngelis about the video’s creation. The concept is clever and simple, resulting in a heartwarming accompaniment to a song that already feels as though it could soundtrack an assortment of emotionally intimate scenes within an indie movie.

The instrumentals of Helenor’s new song feel modern in their looping electronic feel, but also warm and cozy with a friendliness that only our favorite indie music can hope to achieve. In short, Helenor self-describes his sound as synth-folk, which is a spot-on analysis. Stream the song and video for “Tattoo” exclusively on Atwood Magazine, and stay tuned for Helenor’s new album, A public space, out April 12.

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:: stream/purchase Tattoo here ::
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Stream: “Tattoo” – Helenor

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Tattoo - Helenor

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