Dec. 08--SOUTH BERWICK -- Helen Ksypka's musical dream is hitting the high notes following a recent trip to Los Angeles.
The singer and composer, known professionally as eXtreme Helen, was asked to be a speaker at the TAXI Rally music industry convention, held at the Westin LAX hotel last month.
TAXI is an artist company that helps songwriters and composers place their music in film and on TV. The infectiously enthusiastic Ksypka was on the "If I can do it, you can" panel where she explained her digital composing work.
She loved talking shop with other musicians and industry giants, such as the Beatles' former engineer Geoff Emerick, and found the experience renewed her passion for making music.
The exposure at the four-day event resulted in Ksypka signing with a global music publisher for her song "Angelic Silent Night" and possible future creations. The goal is to have them placed in films or on TV.
Viewers may not know whose work they are listening to, but the royalties are the artist's reward.
To say that Ksypka is excited about the future is an understatement.
"I still feel exhilarated," she said several weeks after returning from the convention.
She works on her music from a recording studio in her South Berwick home. Her day job is writing children's poetry for a publishing house.
The soprano hopes she can expand her musical career now, following an early passion in her life that was put on hiatus by marriage and another career.
In her youth she toured New England with her band "Malevolence."
She sang and wrote half the songs. The experience was the impetus for her present work with TAXI.
"At the time, being young we were trying to shop around record companies, trying to get a deal," she said. They were unsuccessful, and frustrated by the difficulty musicians have navigating the commercial side of the industry.
In the ensuing years, Ksypka kept busy with other artistic work.
A member of the Screen Actors Guild, she has appeared in a number of productions where her commanding voice proved an asset.
She often found jobs as an extra. When the director invariably needed someone who could say something on screen, Ksypka was there.
She worked on a number of episodes of the TV show "Spencer for Hire," featuring big name actor Robert Urich.
Ksypka laughs when she recalls being cast as a hooker 12 times and a nun once.
"I think that's why my (music) name fits because there are not too many people who can go from those two extremes," she said.
She also worked on the film "Hanky Panky" with Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner.
Also on the film "Mr. North," where she is depicted running down the street yelling "Help, there's a murderer."
About five years ago she returned to her first love -- vocals and music -- as a DJ for Portsmouth radio station WSCA, 106.1 FM.
She began to teach herself the new digital mixing technology and invested in computers, software and other gear. An extensive sound library allows her to be a one-person band. It also means she doesn't have to split royalties with other band members.
It's the way of the future for the commercial side of the industry.
"I write it, produce it, mix it. I do it all. That is the only way that you can break into getting your music placed," she said.
Ksypka describes her music as post-punk, a juxtaposition of "sweet and happy place, raw and in your face." She plans to explore different sub-genres in the future, such as chill out and ambient.
She cautions that some of it may be extreme, but then that's Helen Ksypka.
To listen to a sample of eXtreme Helen's music visit: https://soundcloud.com/extremehelen
(c)2013 the Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.)
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