I had the pleasure of chatting with Heléna Star about the back by popular demand Techno is Black KH>MS merch she created with us. The KH team were gassed to find out more about Heléna’s journey, inspirations, icons and most importantly if “Heléna Star” truly is her name, keep reading.
How did you get into DJing?
I started in radio when I was 16 at my local radio station, Kane FM in Guilford, big up. I kinda knew I wanted to be in this field, didn’t know what it was but I knew that radio seemed like a good way to get into that and see what I could do. And I always played electronic music but wasn’t mixing it together and the guys who were running the station were like, “I think you need to put it together, cause it sounding a lil bit janky at the moment.” So, that’s how I started and I’ve been doing it ever since.
What’s the inspo behind your DJ name, Heléna Star?
It’s my actual name. My middle name is Star, my mum was like, “when you were born I looked into the sky and was like, that’s my girl.”
Favourite genre of music?
Techno. I love dance music, I really really do and that encapsulates the whole thing. I mean from soulful groovy stuff to acid, to jungle, I love it all to be honest with you. But yeah, I come back to black techno.
What song do you play that you know is a certified pop off?
Streets of Rage by Raw Gamma.
"This kinda came out in frustration but also celebration of that history. Techno is black, it’s black music."
What is the message behind the Techno is Black design?
When the Keep Hush team asked me to design a T-shirt, it made sense to create it around the taking back of the genre and to educate people on the history of techno. I think a lot of people, especially in the UK, aren't aware of the roots of techno, house, jungle, all of these dance music genres they’re not aware of. This kinda came out in frustration but also celebration of that history. Techno is black, it’s black music. I also had quite a lot of people coming up to me while DJing being like, “why aren’t you playing black music?” and I’ll be like, “son I am, this is black music.” So, it’s all about education and hopefully doing this will spread that word.
If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
Well, I‘ve gotta rep my Leo roots, I’d be some kinda feline. I’d like to say I’d be a lion, when my hair’s in afro, it’s a mane, you know. Or like an ocelot or something, a medium sized cat. I’m not a full Leo, I’m a medium sized one.
What’s your favourite condiment, ketchup or mayo?
I’m a ketchup girl. I love ketchup, chips and cold ketchup. Has to be cold, in the fridge ketchup you know? That for me really just *chef’s kiss* you know what I mean? *double chef’s kiss* I’m tryna think of all the sauces, my heart is saying ketchup, that’s the first thing I go to but I love a hot sauce too. Love a hot sauce. On everything.
If you could B2B with any artist, who would it be?
Big questions. I can’t pick one person but if I’m thinking of someone who I love at the moment who I think just encapsulates the sound and the vibe that I really really love it’s Waajeed. He’s from Detroit, bit of a legend, really really enjoy his music and productions and I think we’d have a lot of fun together. We actually had a couple conversations recently and in Detroit he’s starting up an academy for underground music that also ties in with this T-shirt. You know when things just fit and you go, that is someone I look up to and has just represented the community perfectly and continues to spread the word. But also, musically just goes off, I always play his tunes and I love them.
What’s your drink on a night out?
Spiced rum and ginger beer. Every time, with a little wedge of lime.
Favourite part of London?
I’m gonna say where I live, which is next to Victoria Park, East London, South Hackney. Just love it there. It's green, got good vibes, good food, good people. But I do have a bit of an affinity and love affair with Peckham as well, cause Foundation FM is there which is the station that I’m on. I go there every week, I love it there, I love the people as well. And the same thing, just really good vibes, always – well not always – most of the time it’s good vibes there.
What is your favourite event ever played or the best moment of your career?
One of my favourite moments happened a couple weeks ago. The opening weekend for me was really special. Last year I was really ready to jump into this role and things were happening, things were moving, so when the pandemic came a lot of people were like, oh god, I have to rethink that. So this year being asked to play at Fabric and with Rhythm Section who are one of my favourite labels and favourite party. For me it’s just being in that moment of going, “Ah, I’m here!” It’s so nice to be asked to do that and like I said it’s my favourite party, so what more could you want?
"Having that core understanding of what makes you happy and why you wanna do it can really carry you a long way."
Any advice for people trying to make it in the industry right now?
There’s so much that can be said about getting into this industry, but just focusing on the core of why you’re doing it. A lot of people are like, “ I’d love to be a DJ,” but why do you wanna do it? What is it that you really wanna share with the world? Obviously you’ve gotta have a deep love for music and I think that is actually the most important thing. But having that core understanding of what makes you happy and why you wanna do it can really carry you a long way. And just practice, it is all about practice. I’m still learning, I think we’re all still learning. There’s an idea that you get to a certain point and you’re cool now, you’re great. But I think even the old heads and stuff will say they’re still learning new things. I think learning and education is the best way forward.
What is your favourite item of clothing or accessory?
Well, obviously I love this T-shirt, I love the range too, I wear them very very often. I always wear my rings, and always my necklace and earrings. I love wearing a little bit of jewellery, I think it just adds that extra pop. Or a red lip, I’m always wearing a red lip. I feel like it kinda brings the outfit together and I feel myself when I’m wearing it.
Who are your top 3 style icons?
Paloma Elsesser, from the US. Love, love her style. I’m thinking of people I follow on Instagram cause that’s usually where I get my inspiration from. She’s from New York, she’s so, so amazing. I love the idea of just putting on some simple pieces and it all coming together quite well. Rihana, if I’m honest. She’s just Queen Riri. Number 3, you know yesterday I was saying I bought some clothes and I was like, I feel like I’m copying my mum. I’ve copied a lot of her style actually as I’ve gotten older. As I was saying, having those staple utilitarian pieces and wearing them throughout life and finding good quality clothes that you keep for a really long time, I’m tryna really start doing that. Cause I’ve got a lot of shit clothes and fast fashion, no no no people.
On a scale of Nicki Minaj to Megan Thee Stallion, how thicc are the quality of our T-shirts?
That’s some serious thickness, with three Cs. That's my answer, thiccc with three Cs.Big ups to Heléna Star for speaking with us and educating us on the importance of her design. And a big thanks to her for trusting us to relaunch her amazing Techno is Black merch, which you can cop here.