McKisko is yet another of those artists that I have discovered quite a while ago, but kinda lost track of. This australian singer-songwriter is gifted with a voice that hits straight at the heart of her audience. Described by one reviewer as “the voice of a bruised angel”, it can powerfully soar or it can brush raw against you, beckoning goose bumps. Incorporating keys, guitar, melodica, percussion and subtle use of a loop pedal, McKisko’s songs sway between delicately layered lullabies and emotionally charged assaults. She builds songs using inventive instrumentation, an intimate honesty and a lyricism that journeys through abstract landscapes imbued with emotion. Helen Franzmann spent her childhood on a farm in rural Queensland, the second youngest of six children. Although she had been singing classically from age nine, it wasn’t until she moved to Europe that she began to consider quitting her day job for music. From the age of 21 she spent four years in London and Barcelona studying a different kind of voice. She filled her days working 12-hour shifts as a cardiology nurse and her nights with gigs or playing a small Spanish guitar and dinky keyboard. She began to write and perform the simplest of songs at parties and, through a collaboration with songwriter-musician Ben Schiller, those songs evolved into the grand and hauntingly beautiful sounds of their band redbreast. Here, Helen became known for her unique and choppy style of keys and compelling voice. During this time, Helen also collaborated with Brisbane act Jacob S. Harris and the Morning Belles, providing harmonies, keyboard and organ on his three LPs. A move in winter 2007 to a small attic room in Dublin with a keyboard, guitar and a loop pedal began a new phase in her song writing. Here, her solo project, McKisko, saw a revival of her original, more pared-back style. She returned to Brisbane later that year, with the songs ready for recording. 2008 saw Mckisko touring Australia repeatedly, recording with Jamie Trevaskis of Junkship Studios, accompanying German Expressionist films at the Gallery of Modern Art and playing in Tom Cooney’s band. Her debut album Glorio filled with beautiful minimalistic folk songs saw its release in the spring of 2009.
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