Conjuring their own world is what the defiantly independent duo has done for nearly 20 years. Born in France and raised in England and America, Stephenson’s early study of piano and dance ignited her eventual rejection of corporate conformity and fueled her quest to lead a truly autonomous life through art and music. A son of jazz-loving teachers, Helland grew up in Western Massachusetts, where he was a vital player on the region’s famously fertile early hardcore punk scene as the cofounder and bassist of Deep Wound (which also included future Dinosaur Jr. founders J Mascis and Lou Barlow) and Outpatients.
“Had Scott not gone into the burgeoning speed metal scene, he would likely have been J’s choice for the bass player of Dinosaur Jr!,” says Lou Barlow. “Witnessing the passion and ingenuity he brings to Frenchy and the Punk, I still see the same fierceness he had when we were kids. He and Samantha are as DIY as it gets, and they live a life full of music and art the way that many musicians and artists only dream of.”
The dream began when the two met in 1998 in New York City, where Helland had recently started playing solo after a tenure with thrash metal outfit School of Violence. The couple’s musical collaboration started when Stephenson, who’d never performed with a band before, spontaneously jumped on stage to accompany the guitarist during a favorite song. The artistic union was immediate, powerful, and undeniable. The two took to the road with fevered zeal, turning heads with their striking Edward Gorey-esque aesthetic and steadily building phalanxes of fervent fans on the mystical-folk/steampunk festival, coffeehouse, convention, and club circuits with their boisterous, revival-like live shows.