Hayden James career starts in 2013, with the successful, but still slightly immature, eponymous EP. A year later, “Something About You” arrives, a track that not only immediately proposes itself as a hit, but that also seems to well exemplify the sound of the Australian artist, which combines sensuality and sound ranging from dance to soul. These characteristics have remained unchanged, as is well known a few years later, in 2019, when the artist seems to have become fully aware of his work; with the release of “Between Us“, a record with a defined and decisive character, Hayden James has found the direction in which to continue.
Do you have many hits in your repertoire…looking back, in recent years, how do you think your music has evolved?
Good question! I think that my music has definitely evolved, I think not only with times or what people are producing, but just in my personal taste and what I like to write. I think I’ve always been interested more song then dance music even though I am categorized in more house-dance kind of stuff. I do tend to write more song based things and then they’re all means like the productions a bit different as well. But, yeah, it’s evolved; I think that it all makes sense together. If you listen to Hayden James’ records now and my first “Permission To Love”, I think that all still make sense together.
In addition to your career, have you also had personal growth?
Yeah,I have! I mean, I’ve been so lucky that the music that have been writing is taking me around the world a couple of times. My wife and I travel together and it’s amazing! Actually, we just had a baby boy who is now one year old and yes, lots of growth! It’s amazing!
Surely “Something About You” was the turning point: was it as overwhelming experience as I imagine it? Was it a shock?
It was special. I remember exactly where I was sitting, in this little kind of studio I made up in one of the bedrooms of this apartment. My wife was just got home from her job and I think she was like cooking some dinner and I was just playing the chords for the first time I got “bump bump bump bump bump” with this on the battery in the backgrounds and we both just turned up to each other I was like: “Oh this is really good!”. So, for the moment I wrote it inside experimenting with it I just knew that it was a special. So, yeah, I’m really happy that everyone can connected with it that way and, yeah, I mean it’s been a really exciting journey. I just love that I have many more songs as well now it’s like I know some people and some artists that have like one big song. I never wanted to be like that for me I just want, you know, a lot of great songs together which I think, you know, slowly getting there.
How much did your home city, Sydney, count in the process of researching your sound?
Quite a lot actually! I live very close to the beach in Sydney and because of the beautiful weather all the time we always down in the water, surfing, you know, play on the sand, just chilling out…so I find out my music is definitely affected by my environment. That being said I would love to live in a different part of the world, for maybe a year and write music. I know the Rüfüs Du Sol guys really well and I know the days spent about six to eight months in Berlin writing music and that really frames and shapes a record for them. I think it’ll be a lot of fun and a different experience to live in a different place and in creating in a different space.
Your music has also brought you to the stages of the most famous festivals, thus allowing you to see even the most varied audiences: which is the one that impressed you most? Do you notice any differences from country to country?
Yeah, there’s been some incredible moments at festivals. I think being Australian and touring and performing in Australia is proud of my favourite, because it’s my home country. I’d say it’s “Splendour in the grass” in 2019 was my favourite performance festival but I’ve also love so many around the world. I played at CRSSD Festival in San Diego last year as well which was amazing on the water, such a cool vibe…a couple of years ago I played at Glastonbury in a very small tent but it was just so much fun just to experience that festival. I played all over Europe. One of my favourite festival I played was in Copenhagen and also Lowlands in Amsterdam. I’ve had some incredible experiences but I’d have to say that my home is the most memorable, I think. From country to country, you can feel the energy in and you have to know what kind of music is most popular in that country. You can definitely feel that on the stage, for sure.
You know, I find your music really sensual: what’s the secret?
Thank you! Well, I think it’s the way I’m telling a story…it’s usually about love. Sometimes it’s about me and my wife, sometimes, you know, fictitious couple that I make up in my head. I think one of the main things to make it sound so sensual and, I don’t know, use this simplicity…for me, simplicity is key.
I would see a featuring with The Weeknd well…who would you like to collaborate with?
Yeah! The Weeknd…I mean, his voice, it’s just unbelievable! I’d love to collaborate with The Weeknd…I don’t know him, do you? [laughs] I love an Australian band, called Parcels, that I think actually live in Berlin…I think I love just listen people and I’d love to write music with Phoenix, Daft Punk…you can see where I’m coming from. Also, you know, Rufus, Odesza, Caribou…I’d love to write with Jamie XX, Pharrell Williams…I know, I’ve a big list. It’s something to look forward to in the future and see if we can collaborate with, you know, people that are dreams.
You also collaborated with Katy Perry if I’m not mistaken…what was it like?
I did, yeah! So, management contacted me a couple of years ago and said: “We like what you are doing, we like “Something About You” So they flew me across to Santa Barbara, where she lives, and we’re in studio for 2 weeks together. I was so nervous going to that session because it was just her and I that we wrote a whole bunch of music. One of the records that we wrote is on her album called “Witness” and it’s the song called “Déjà Vu” and it was just a lot of fun. She’s so professional, she’s very funny, she’s just an incredible talent; so, it’s really really great working with her.
“Between Us” comes six years after your debut single: we can say that it is an album with a rather long gestation, for this reason I think it has been studied in detail. Have you ever felt discouraged or lost?
Once I understood what I wanted to write and what it would be, it was at the same time the easiest and most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. I think one of the main things is that I wanted to tell a story where everyone could mirror each other. I think it is listening to the album all the way, there are not only songs, but also a story that makes sense overall: this is what I wanted and in reality, many people told me that it was very rewarding. I also believe that people now take me much more seriously in terms of producer and writer. There is a lot I can do for my career, so I am really happy that I did, and I can’t wait for the time to come again when I will concentrate only on my singles. When I have something else to say, I will definitely write another album.
And what about the future?
I think I just entered a little bit there, so…releasing a bunch of singles this year and definitely want to write an album in the future, but not right now, that’s not my main focus.
We are also experiencing a historically important moment; the spread of coronavirus has led to the closure of major festivals … how are you experiencing it?
Yeah, it’s really tough. It’s really hard to get up and, you know,…if we can pull through this like I know that we will it’s going to be such an amazing time when this is all over and we can all hang out together again and go to festivals and share music together outside. It’s really hard but everyone’s in this together so I think it’s so important just to stay positive and look after yourself and look after your friends and your family and just make sure everyone’s ok. But, I really cannot wait for there to be a future where we can play music festivals again.