Hell paving his own roads

Electro musician Coleman Hell did what it takes to land a recording contract — he just did it backwards.

Electro musician Coleman Hell did what it takes to land a recording contract — he just did it backwards.

Most singer/songwriters put out at least one highly successful album before multiple record labels come a-knocking. Hell didn’t get around to recording a whole album. One of his singles, 2 Heads, went viral after being posted on YouTube.

“And all of a sudden, there were one million, then 10 million streams. Then all the record labels started calling,” he recalled, “and I was flying out to meet with these different labels. …”

2 Heads, a monster hit about fatal romantic attractions between incompatible couples, was at No. 1 on so many Internet Top-10 lists that radio stations couldn’t ignore it.

“I knew it was a good song, but I didn’t expect all this word-of-mouth … I didn’t expect people to leap at it the way they did,” he said — but Hell is very excited that they did.

The Ontario artist, who performs with his two musical partners on Monday at the International Beer Haus in Red Deer, ended up signing a deal for his debut album to be put out by Columbia Records by the spring of 2016.

Hell mixes musical genres on a keyboard and synthesizer — from hip-hop to nu-disco and folk/electronica — and works on songs with longtime friends La+ch (who produced 2 Heads with Coleman) and Michah.

Hell, 26, and his two collaborators grew up in Thunder Bay before moving to Toronto.

There was a time, Coleman admitted, when he didn’t appreciate his small-town environment. “I ran away from it. I never embraced it before, but now I realize it’s who I am.”

He hints that the new tunes on his upcoming album will deal with his feelings about his hometown. “It’s about relationships with family, with nature … it’s about learning to be comfortable in your own skin.”

Althought Coleman’s music is sometimes pegged as dance/electronica, he isn’t entirely comfortable with this label, saying “I think there’s more substance in my songs.”

All the Monsters, for example, has dark themes that surface in the surprising violent ending to the music video.

“I would like to make music that’s timeless,” said Hell, who uses his real name and credits his parents with encouraging his talent for creating new tunes from synthsized computer programs.

“They were very strongly supportive. Most (musicians) I talk to didn’t have the same experience … I would be making music in the middle of the night and be playing it too loud, and they would never tell me to turn it down.

“I think my parents just wanted me to do something I was passionate about.”

Tickets for the local show are $17.50 from Songkick or from the venue. Doors open at 7 p.m. Call 403-986-5008.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com