Before his show at U Street Music Hall on October 12, with supporting acts Luke Million, Bête Noire and Dena Amy, we got to have a chat with Hayden James. After just a few releases, James has been touring across the globe – from the U.S., to Asia, Europe and around his home country, Australia – at some of the most high profile festivals; Roskilde, Reading, Leeds and Lollapalooza to name a few. His show was vibrant and light-hearted for a Wednesday night: all walks of life flocked to U Hall for his set. Sticking to his euphoric melodies, Hayden James spun his well-loved releases – namely Something About You and Just a Lover – and representing his fellow Aussie artists, he featured his remixes of Rüfüs, and mixed his debut track “Permission to Love“ with Touch Sensitive’s “Show Me.” James’ infatuation with the cosmos meant that his visceral vocals and beats were teamed with melting galactic visuals. Hayden James is just one example of the amazing output of Sydney-based label, Future Classic. As the name suggests, the label is ahead of the game and innovative in every respect when it comes to electronic music. Without a doubt, in anticipation of his new album, Hayden James is a shining star who put in the time and effort to create quality music with serious danceability. See our chat with him below about travel, outer space, and more.
Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck, or a hundred duck-sized horses?
Hayden James: I’m gonna go with a hundred duck-sized horses. I’ve got a mean kick. Plus, they’ve already seen me fight a horse-sized duck.
I hear you’re really into space – and you went to NASA recently, how was that?
HJ: Incredible – I didn’t think we could go timing wise, but we saw the astronauts “practice ground.” But it was fascinating, and I got a NASA jumper.
That sounds amazing. My dream would be to go to space camp – I was so jealous of all the little American kids who got to go into zero gravity aged-ten while i’m in England studying in boarding school hating myself.
HJ: Where in the UK did you grow up?
In London, and Wiltshire!
HJ: I used to live in Richmond for 4 years – because of my dad’s job we moved from Sydney [when I was 15] to England for a few years, and I went to Wimbledon school – and that’s when I got into DJing.
Yeah England’s good for that. And I heard you went to on holiday to Chile! You should go to the Atacama Desert if you like space: it’s the perfect place to look at the Milky Way.
HJ: I’ve been to Ayers Rock before and they have a night in the desert type thing and you can see the Milky Way there because there’s no light pollution. It’s amazing.
Where else did you guys go in South America?
HJ: Jen (my wife) and I, we went to the Andes in Chile. We didn’t have time to do Machu Picchu. We went to Rio, Iguazú falls and Argentina. We traveled there for 6 months.
Did you see those weird squirrel things in Iguazú?
HJ: Yes! We did! Then after that the three of us also went to Bogotá – I did a show with Empire of the Sun there.
They would play there.
HJ: Yeah, everyone is nuts for them there. [Editor’s note: This is true. They just headlined our Fall Classic. We are nuts for them here.]
So, can you give us a hint about the general concept of your upcoming album?
HJ: Everything I’ve released is part of the same story. When I started writing music, and growing up listening to dance music, my favorite album still today is Discovery by Daft Punk because of the relationship between the story, the emotion and the music, and also the danceability and how it makes me feel. So that’s kind of what I’m trying to do: if you placed the album on a linear timeline, you’d be able to tell a story of this relationship. Everything I’ve released and everything that’s to come is going to be a part of that story.
Is that story taken from your personal experiences or more from a general narrative theme?
HJ: A little bit, but it’s more fictitious.
And in terms of that narrative where you use this very gender fluid, sensual voice, are you going to keep using that in your upcoming album?
HJ: I’m going to relax that a little – I’ve been using that a lot and I’ve got a few demos that I’m playing tonight that do use that pitched vocal, but I’m steering a bit clear of that because I don’t want it to just be about that. It’s cool, but there’s definitely a place and a time for it. There’s going to be some guests on that album, too.
Who are those guests going to be?
HJ: Don’t even know yet! I’m running with a few really cool producers at the moment, and maybe some other guests for vocals.
Ideal person to work with would be?
HJ: I’ve got some sessions coming up with ZHU actually, who I’d love to do that kind of thing with, and some smaller Australian acts.
And you played at Splendor in the Grass this year – how was that for you??
HJ: One of my favorite shows ever. Hometown, in Byron – so in my state – with all my mates, and with Jen. There were about 15-18,000 people there. *All the mates*
How would you define a “good day”?
HJ: I actually accomplish something, cook something (i.e. make Italian food – but I love eating Japanese food, too), and – we live right by the beach in Sydney – so going for a swim or walk, so being active.
About cooking sushi – it looks intimidating but it’s not actually hard to make! You should try it.
HJ: I wonder if I would get the same gratitude though; with sushi I just want someone awesome to make it.
So, with your music, you say that it’s important to you that you connect with the audience. Do you have a particular memory regarding music and human connectivity? I know music has been integral to my past relationships, especially when dealing with language barriers, as music seems to translate what couldn’t be said.
HJ: The first song I released, called “Permission to Love”, I actually wrote about Jen, because I went over to her parents house and I asked for their permission for me to marry their daughter. It was a simple respect thing, and I came back that night and over the next few days I wrote that song. I had to wait for a few weeks and months until I could show her.
So you dropped it on the proposal basically?
HJ: Yeah! So that’s a super strong emotion. It’s an amazing high, though, when they say yes.
Catch Hayden James in your city here.