Hayden James: “I Don’t Consider Myself ‘Aussie EDM'”

There was no stopping it. It seemed that as soon his debut single, Permission to Love, was released, Australia fell head over heels for Sydney-based producer Hayden James. Aussie music lovers were beguiled even further when Hayden unveiled his acclaimed self-titled debut EP via Future Classic.

Hayden’s stock continued to rise as SoundCloud spins came in by the thousands each day and he kept himself busy by performing at some of the country’s most prestigious festivals, including Listen Out, The Plot, Queensland’s Valley Fiesta, and an acclaimed set at Splendour In The Grass.

To learn more about this electronic muso who’s charmed music-lovers Australia-wide, we spoke to Hayden James via email to talk about his production process, the ever-growing Australian electronic music scene, his forthcoming album, and his upcoming spot on the Circo Festival II sideshows bill.

Watch: Hayden James – Permission To Love

Music Feeds: Is there a routine for when you’re starting on a production? Does an Italian beach and Birra Moretti help prepare you for hours of tweaking about in Ableton?

Hayden James: I try and mix up where I write but I record and produce in the studio. I love just taking a laptop and piano/controller outside and playing around. It’s refreshing!

Music Feeds: Your EP was actually the soundtrack to a love story that you wrote. Was that the result of some spur-of-the-moment inspiration or did you plan that? Can you give us a synopsis of the story?

HJ: Writing to a visual or storyline has always been the best way to get ideas out for me. I’m a fan of the animated movie Interstella 5555, which is based on the Daft Punk album Discovery. So, I guess it came from there. Music can be much more powerful and emotive with the right visual to go with it.

I like to keep the specifics of the EP story to myself and let people interpret their own meanings to my songs.

Music Feeds: You’ve mentioned that you had something of a watershed moment after you realised you could do dance music all on your own, without a band. Is that part of what drew you to electronic music? The solitude?

HJ: Not particularly… I’ve been in a few different groups before and I’ve just found that I work better on my own. I love it, but I do miss having someone to bounce ideas off from time to time.

Music Feeds: To the uninitiated, the Australian EDM scene may seem to have sprung up out of nowhere. How accurate would you say that is and what do you think caused this sudden wave of exposure?

HJ: Yeah, it sure feels that way. It’s the combination of great music being made, great labels releasing this music, and the accessibility of music today. SoundCloud, Hype Machine, etc have really made a huge impact on the way people listen to and discover new music.

Music Feeds: Aussie EDM is now almost considered a genre in itself. How would you describe the ‘Australian dance sound’?

HJ: I don’t really like that term and I don’t consider my sound [part of an] “Australian sound.” I’m just writing music that I want to write.

Music Feeds: You’ve actually played a few festivals in the last few months — Listen Out, The Plot, Valley Fiesta — what have you learnt about putting together a festival performance? Was there a particular experience you took something away from?

HJ: It’s ridiculously fun playing to crowds all over Australia. I learn something every time I play. My set has definitely evolved over the past few months based on crowd reaction and what I’m feeling. I just finished a monster tour with RUFUS playing three or four shows a week for six weeks. I am really happy with my show at the moment.

Music Feeds: What can fans who’ve never seen you before expect from you at the upcoming shows?

HJ: There’s lots of new stuff in the live show: new edits, remixes, and a new song! My show also has a big visual side to it which is quite unique. I use projection mapping. It looks pretty cool.

Music Feeds: You’ve said your next checklist item is releasing a full-length album. How is that coming along? When can fans expect it?

HJ: I’ve got a new single coming out really soon that I’ve been playing in my live shows. It features Touch Sensitive on the bass. More new music is on the way!

Listen: Hayden James – Embrace

Hayden James will be appearing alongside Kele and ODESZA during a quick run of Circo II Sideshows this June – full details here.

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