By Jennifer O’Connor
There’s a new message on my machine. It’s from Hayden, and he’s asking for someone named Jane.
It’s 10:45 in the morning, and his manager only told him about our interview at 2 a.m., so I forgive him. Besides, things are pretty busy for Hayden right now. He’s preparing for a five-week tour that will take him across Canada, including Toronto.
He enjoys touring more these days, he says, because he has four other people onstage with him, and about 35 songs to choose from.
“There are nights when it feels new and fresh,” he says. “There’s a certain magic.”
Hayden says that he’s always loved music. He started out working at York’s campus radio station and went on to graduate from Ryerson’s radio and television arts program. He directed videos for Head and Anhai before releasing his first indie album, Everything I Long for, in 1995. He soon began to attract attention. Rolling Stone even wrote about him. After touring extensively, including a gig at Lollapalooza, he recorded an EP, Moving Careful. Hayden’s latest album, The Closer I Get, was released in May. His writing has changed since his first album.
“I kind of noticed it’s different every time,” he says. “I used to write music and words and record at the same time. There’s times I’ve taken four months trying to figure out a particular song.”
When he does figure it out, he doesn’t talk about it. He likes to hear what fans think of the music rather than tell them about it.
“Often people will say what they thought a song is, and it’s just completely different from what I was thinking,” he says.
His favourite artists include Lucinda Williams and Chet Baker, but Hayden tries not to emulate anyone with his music.
“The thing that gets me going is being inspired by things,” he says. “It’s always nice to see a really good concert or movie and go home charge for writing and creating.”
He doesn’t just create music, though. Hayden has also directed or codirected all but two of his videos, although he sometimes finds it difficult to take his vision of a song to video.
“Sometimes the automatic response for me is to literally do in the video what the song is saying,” he says.
Two months ago, he codirected the video for Better Off Inside.
“I don’t know if I’m more commercial,” he says, reflecting on how his career is going. “I know that’s something I can’t control. It’s not what I’m in this for.”
And what is he in this for?
“I asked myself that last night,” he says, laughing. “I do know I’m very happy when I’m playing music or casually improvising with other people.”