Canadian singer/songwriter, Hayden has been releasing music inconsistently for the past 20 years. His legacy reads like that of a recluse; a loner, telling tales of travel, calling in to work to spent time with a loved one, and his troubled cat. His tours have been few and far between and, often times, people wonder if he’s disappeared forever, only to return unannounced with a new record. His most recent offering, Us Alone [Arts & Crafts], brought him to the Tractor Tavern in the Ballard district of Seattle, WA, where I had the incredible honor of speaking with him.
BRAD TILBE — How has the reception to the new record been so far?
HAYDEN — It’s been great; I’m surprised actually. Forget critics, it’s the people just telling me, or writing things about how the record has affected them on an emotional level that has been interesting and great. When I’m working on a record it’s all about what sounds good to me, and what feels good, and what’s a good statement for me at the time. I’m not really thinking about who’s going to be listening to it. Once I finish a record and I feel really good about, and I’m proud of it, that’s my biggest satisfaction moment. Sometimes I start thinking outside myself and hear that people are touched by it. That’s a whole other level. I appreciate that.
How’s Fatherhood treating you?
It’s been incredible, and difficult, and beautiful.
In what way has it changed your method, if there is/was one to your songwriting, most notably on “Almost Everything”?
I tend to write about things that have gone on in my life, things that are important to me, or stories I find fascinating. There’s a lot of my life in this record. My daughter and being a father are propelled by this record.
Why the decision to almost quit music after the birth of your child?
No, that’s not true. When I put my last record out, I didn’t do anything about it. It took me a while to make this record, for a few reasons. The only time I thought about giving up music was between my second and third album. I was disillusioned with the whole process of promoting yourself, doing music as a hobby and not trying to sell it after I was done with a record.
And to keep going?
I never completely went the other way as far as quitting music; I never overly promoted an album. I tend to put off touring after a certain amount of time. I get frustrated by certain aspects of it. I’ve never gone full force. If there was a demand in every major city and 1,000 people were coming to see me, maybe that would get me to go out more.
Simply because there was a really nice guy there named Justin and he was a fan. He liked what I did in the past. He talked to his bosses about putting that record out; that’s pretty much the gist of it.
Do you fancy yourself as a comedian? Specifically, with the between song banter on Live At Convocation Hall?
I guess it’s a good platform for me to tell weird stories of traveling. When they’re on my mind I want to tell them. It might have started from this seriousness and morose quality of my music, especially at solo shows; I’d try and lighten things up a little. That might have been how it started. From the beginning, I haven’t been overly professional when I go up on stage. If I make a mistake, there are a lot of lyrics and I’m not a decent guitar player or piano player, so instead of getting all serious when things like that happen, I make a joke about.
You put Skyscraper National Park out yourself, giving copies away to friends and family. Why the decision to do so as opposed to shopping it around?
That was the record I put out after contemplating whether or not to do music as a hobby. I was left with a negative feeling about putting out music professionally and I was sort of feeling my way back and seeing if I could enjoy it again. Every step of that of that record coming out was one thing after another. I’d come from this situation where, the day a record came out, I knew where I would be 8 months from that date, and it was overwhelming having my life planned out so far in advance. So, for Skyscraper, it was just “ok, I’m doing this 2 week tour of Canada, really small venues. I’m going to do it solo, and see what happens.” Not until it was done did I then say, “ok, maybe I’ll do this now.” It made sense to me at the time.
Hardwood Records now distributes other artists. What was the decision behind not keeping Hardwood a, “Hayden only” label?
Hardwood is sort of run by a friend of mine and myself. I’ve never been overly into that part, I’m not organized that well. If we hear music we like, then we decide to help them out, and put out their records.
You’re on tour with your sister-in law right now, Lou Canon. You also produced her new record. Were there any obligations you felt in doing so?
My mother-in law made do it (laughs). For a Christmas present exchange one year, I made a mock record with her name on it and it said, “Produced by Hayden.” I offered to record an EP as a gift. She was just starting to write her first songs and we spent a day in the studio. That turned into 6 months on and off of her writing one better song after another. I was having fun doing that with her so, that turned into a record and it made sense for Hardwood to put it out. She’s very talented. What she’s doing now on this tour is very different from the record she made. In the past four years she’s found her voice quite quickly.
Anything else you’d like to add/say?
No, that was good. I can never think of adding anything.
Us Alone is currently available in CD, LP, MP3, Flac, and Lossless formats.
Listen to it below and then, purchase it through Arts and Crafts Productions