In a contest where unconventional office spaces become creative platforms for musicians, the FGCU alumnus-founded band The Helmsmen won the “Weekly Fan Favorite” for NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert.”
This yearly contest, in partnership with Lagunita Brewing Company in Petaluma, California and Chicago, gives musicians across the nation a chance to compete for countrywide recognition.
Submissions for the contest are in the running for a trip to perform at NPR’s headquarters in Washington D.C. as part of the station’s “Tiny Desk” series, along with a performance at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York at an “Ask Me Another” live show and performances at six of NPR Music’s live events at Lagunitas’ breweries across the U.S.
Their Jan. 27 “Desks In The Wild” winning entry, “Floating,” features the band aboard two seemingly shaky canoes inside of a pool, a punny throw to the title of their song.
The reggae-influenced melody in “Floating” compliments the strong vocals of lead singer Jesse Glendinning, who founded The Helmsmen with friend and guitarist Derek Campbell in Jupiter, Florida.
They completed their five-man arsenal in 2014 with guitarist Jacob Constantakos, bassist Micko Paparo and drummer Samuel King.
“Floating” is part of The Helmsmen’s EP “Midterm,” which was released June 18, 2016.
“We knew we wanted to do ‘Floating’; we just had to decide how to do it,” Glendinning said. “We figured we never did a music video for it, and there was no promotion. We wanted to bring a new concept for people that haven’t heard the song before.”
The Tiny Desk video was filmed at Campbell’s home, requiring a rigging of cords stretching from the studio inside the home, through the popped-out screen and onto the patio next to the pool.
“For me, specifically, the worst and most difficult part about the video was trying to set up the recording gear, play, sing and float on a canoe standing up,” Campbell said. “I have a home studio called Helm House Studios. So, we were fortunate enough to have the recording capabilities to get the job done right. We ran a microphone input snake out the window of my house over to the pool. Thankfully, it was long enough to reach.”
The second take of the video was the band’s favorite, partly because Glendinning didn’t need any members going into the pool — the longer the guys filmed, the higher the odds of everyone tipping the canoes.
“I wouldn’t call it exactly perfect … whether it was perfect or not, we didn’t want someone going in,” Glendinning said.
A brief disaster was avoided by Glendinning’s quick reactions.
Constantakos, which Glendinning described as “definitely the biggest dude in the band” was crawling with his electric guitar into the canoe to get positioned for filming.
Constantakos knocked a chair into the pool, and Glendinning grabbed a mic stand just before it went in, keeping the loss of equipment at zero.
When the group found out that they won, Campbell described the feeling as a winning moment for upcoming artists in South Florida.
“When I found out we won, I was very happy,” Campbell said, “not only because I think the effort we put in was rewarded, but also because I like to see Florida bands getting some love. I think we have something up and coming going on here in South Florida and Florida as a whole. I think something like this not only helps The Helmsmen but also contributes to Florida getting some well-deserved attention in the music world.”