After almost 350,000 hits on SoundCloud and regular spins on the radio, Hayden James’ ‘Permission To Love’ might seem like it’s doing pretty well for itself – but you know you’ve really got a hit when the unofficial remixes start coming in. Although the original draws its influences from the classic styles of disco and 1990s house, sounding like it comes from a time before some American coined the name ‘EDM’, you’ll find remixes of ‘Permission To Love’ that have sped it up, doofed it up, chopped and screwed it and made mash-ups out of it. James prefers the two official remixes by Touch Sensitive and Charles Murdoch, however.
“They’re so different to each other and the original as well,” he says. “I think it supports the track really well and it shows off what they’re good at as artists. I have seen a few other bootleg mixes online, which is funny. You search for yourself on SoundCloud or something; your search comes up, ‘Like, what?’ But the official ones I really love.”
James calls ‘Permission To Love’ “probably the most accessible track” on his self-titled debut EP, but it’s not entirely representative of his sound. James sings on several of the songs, his smooth croon lending an indie R&B vibe to woozier numbers like ‘Lay Down’ and ‘Embrace’, while ‘Beginning’ is an experiment in combining piano with beats and vocal samples. “It’s quite different,” James says of the EP’s sound. “Everyone thinks I’m quite disco-y and house-y and I’m not really that at all, so it’ll be interesting to see how the EP goes with people’s thoughts tending to go towards the house-y vibe of what ‘Permission To Love’ is.”
James used to be more of a straight-up DJ but with this new project he’s making the music himself from the word ‘go’, playing guitar, piano and synth as well as singing and producing. When he tried out his new songs on his parents they asked him which bit he’d done and he had to explain, “all of it”. (The talented multi-instrumentalist also knows how to play the saxophone but has yet to work that into his music, despite his jazz-loving manager begging him to give it a shot.)
One instrument consistent across the EP is his favoured synth, a Prophet ’08 that he’s had for six years and says was already maybe six years old by the time he picked it up second-hand. What appeals to him about the instrument is “probably the fact that sometimes when you use it – what’s the word? – it changes every time you use it. It’s an analogue synth so it can act in different ways and my one’s quite old so you get a lot of different sounds out of it every time you use it, which is good.” So what was the word? “I guess it’s unpredictable.”
BY JODY MACGREGOR
Hayden James EP out Friday August 30 through Future Classic.