Hayden James has a new “funky, old-school Daft Punk feel”

Although Hayden James first signed to Future Classic as part of a disco band called Cadillac, it’s his solo project that’s made his name. His track Permission To Love was a SoundCloud hit (almost 800,000 plays so far), and he followed it up with a supremely chilled-out EP in 2013 that put him in demand for festivals and tour supports.

But until late last year he’d never played his solo music live. While figuring out a way to get that music onto stages, he hit on the idea of a show with a strong visual element, working with projectionist and AV wizard Jim Medcraft to craft something special, which he’s taken on the road during his tour with RUFUS. In the car on the way to one of the last gigs of that tour, after which he’ll be playing with Kele and Odesza at their Circo Festival sideshows, he and Medcraft talk about that audio-visual extravaganza as well as what’s next in store for Hayden James.

How’s the tour been going?

Hayden: Really good. Really good. It’s great to be on tour with these guys. I guess the album’s so good everybody’s there pretty early, so it’s great for me to be exposed to all the crowds. And the guys kill it, everyone on tour’s a lot of fun. Kilter’s been supporting as well as Crooked Colours from Perth. It’s a good crew and it’s been awesome.

The live show that you’re doing at the moment, you only put this together last year. Was it a challenge putting a live show together?

Hayden: Yeah, a little bit. I hadn’t really done it before and we’ve got a lighting aspect to it as well. I’ve actually got my projectionist in the car with me now. He’d probably be able to explain it a bit better than I can. Basically what we do is video-projection mapping, all cued to the music as well. All synced.

Jim: Think ‘audio-visual video-mapped show’. That’s the phrase we use.

Hayden: That’s good. But in terms of audio it’s been good playing all my remixes out and obviously my EP, and I play a few new tracks as well in the live show. It’s been going well.

And you’ll be supporting Kele at the Circo sideshows. That’s pretty exciting.

Hayden: Yeah, that’s gonna be really good. I’m actually pretty keen, I’ve met Kele before, I played with him last year down at Thredbo but it’d be cool to hang out with the Odesza guys. I’m a big fan of theirs and they haven’t been in Australia before. And then on the Saturday, next Saturday, I’m heading to Mackay in North Queensland to play River Sessions with RUFUS, Art Vs. Science, Allday, all those guys.

You are pretty busy.

Hayden: Yeah, this tour’s taken a hit from my liver I think.

So did Kele ask for you especially?

Hayden: I’m gonna say yes. [laughs]

You said something about your EP last year, that the songs on it actually follow a narrative, that there’s a story to it. Do the visuals tie into that, telling the same story?

Hayden: Partly.

Jim: The way we open and close the visuals we actually use the artwork, the artwork from the album to animate the beginning of the show, heading into and out of the journey of the music.

Hayden: There is definitely narrative in the set, the way it’s played out. There’s live clips, we shot some video, so there’s live elements in there and there’s animated stuff.

Jim: We tried to use a very different look between the songs to make them stand out more. Some things are made out of stock footage and slow-mo footage and other things are filmed singing.

Hayden: There’s a bit of everything. I did the Dillon Francis remix, Without You, which used part of their actual video clip as well. There’s a bit of everything.

Tell me about that story. Is it a love story?

Hayden: Oh, man. Yes. I just find it much easier for me to write my original music when I have a subject in mind. I base it off – I don’t know if you’ve seen the animation Interstellar 555? The Daft Punk one?


Hayden: It’s kind of like that. That’s how I figure it in my head, what’s going on. It’s a love story about a boy and a girl who can’t be together and they come together and they have Permission To Love. All that stuff. So it’s a love story and it’s quite complex.

But without the aliens.

Hayden: Without the aliens, yeah. And the crazy record label guys.

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