Darren Hayes: Beyond Savage Garden

Set to release his latest album, This Delicate Thing We’ve Made later this summer, it seems a good time to get to know Darren Hayes a little bit better. Many may remember him as half of the well known duo that was Savage Garden. Since those days, Darren Hayes has kept quite busy; releasing several solo albums and starting his own label, Powdered Sugar, to mention a couple.

So let’s try to get to know Darren Hayes a bit better now: past, present and future.

AnnaG: I know it is inevitable that you will be connected with Savage Garden; does it ever bother you since you have been pursuing your solo career for several years now? Do you ever wish you could be seen as Darren Hayes and not as Darren Hayes of Savage Garden?

Darren: Yes and No. And I’m sorry to give the grey answer but it’s true. Black and White truth: I feel like I’m a more complex and creative musician today. But I am obscure and perhaps that’s the price of starting out massively successful and then branching out. I’m proud of Savage Garden and the one thing for sure is that I wouldn’t be here today making records without the opportunities I gained from those lovely pop songs.

AnnaG: What would you say has inspired you most over the years to do what you have done with music?

Darren: I lead with my heart. I express myself very completely with music and production these days. I’m getting so much more confident and I guess I keep pushing to be the artist I know I can be. I’m not entirely there yet, but I’m getting there. And it’s as simple as noticing when the hair on the back of my neck stands up when Kate Bush sings. I look at songs by artists of her caliber and feel humbled and inspired.

AnnaG: You started your own label, had you thought about this prior to parting with Sony? What were your motivations?

Darren: Only every day for the past 7 years! The motivation was simple. After they shelved the best thing I have ever done at that point (The Tension and The Spark) I vowed that I would never again let a man in a bad suit tell me whether or not my music was good.

AnnaG: Do you plan on signing bands to this label? If so, what styles of music interest you to be signed?

Darren: I would love to. I’m just sorting out the network of distribution, radio and press teams around the world. If we have any success with my record (and I’m thinking positively!) then I’d feel more confident that I could offer an artist an alternative to the boring board of directors and car salesman that often constitute major labels these days.

AnnaG: What do you hope to accomplish with Powdered Sugar?

Darren: Honestly, I just want it to be a vehicle for me to get my records out so that people can decide if they like them. Simple as that.

AnnaG: What advice might you give to someone wanting to create an independent label?

Darren: I would say make sure you have some pocket money! It’s cost a lot to set things up and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my previous commercial success. I’m really not against major labels for new artists. There are still some amazing teams out there especially at EMI in the U.K. But for established acts, unless you have some love amongst the ranks, it can be a struggle.

AnnaG: What drove you to create a single album of 26 songs?

Darren: The vinyl record.

I wanted to create two distinct movements and I loved classic double albums like Tusk by Fleetwood Mac and Sign O The Times By Prince. Interesting and indulgent in parts and not at all concerned with being instantly digestible. Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love had one conceptual side to the album… and I loved the idea of that.

AnnaG: Your upcoming album release will be two discs. Had you thought of releasing them separately as some bands (Everclear, Guns ‘n’ Roses) have done in the past with related albums?

Darren: That’s how you make more money. But to me, my set was exactly that: a double set meant to be delivered at once. Listen to one side. Go away, make a cup of tea, listen to the other.

AnnaG: What do you want people to take away from listening to your music, specifically this upcoming release?

Darren: I hope it just speaks to them. In any sense. I just look at my world and use my voice and my mind to create a sonic reaction or a diary of sorts. It’s my way of asking if anyone else feels it too.

AnnaG: What expectations do you have for this album so far as financial success and your future career?

Darren: I don’t focus on the money beyond hoping it will pay for itself.

And in terms of ‘the career’ I hope I can grow and become more popular so that I might tour more and spend more of the profits on shows and videos. I want to pour more resources into the art.

AnnaG: What have you learned from going from a band to a solo career? What do you miss about being in a band? What do you not miss about being in a band?

Darren: I’ve learned to enjoy the process. I don’t do anything on my label that doesn’t make me genuinely happy and proud. I try to celebrate the tiniest wins. It’s easy to forget to see the glass half full when you’re always winning.

AnnaG: Is there something about your path to this point that you might have liked to be different?

Darren: I think we get to where we are going because of our mistakes. Apart from a few very bad hair cuts, I don’t regret a thing.

AnnaG: This latest album has been quite the project; do you already have ideas for an album beyond this one?

Darren: I do. It would be the polar opposite. Whereas this one is lush, cinematic and dense, I’m interested in exploring something more minimal and less crafted.

AnnaG: I did not find anything on this, but with your creativity and interests it would be so natural; have you ever thought of releasing a book of poetry to further express yourself?

Darren: I’m writing a book. Who knows if I’ll ever finish it but thanks for the encouragement!

AnnaG: You are also putting out a DVD, should we expect more releases like this in the future?

Darren: My first release on Powdered Sugar was a documentary I made about the transition I went through from big fat egotistical pop star to deflated wannabe. It was exhausting but thrilling. My boyfriend (husband? Hate that word!) is an animator and film maker so at some point I’m sure we’ll do something else. We are releasing a surround sound DVD of animations for this new album but not until next year.

AnnaG: Are there things you have not yet done, but wish to accomplish in the future, in your career or personal ventures?

Darren: I want to play MSG. And I want to be a father.

AnnaG: Anything you wish to add?

Darren: Peace!

Darren Hayes, darrenhayes.com