CREAM MAGAZINE ARTICLE--- OCTOBER 2004
TRUTH OR DARE
By Nick Bennet
Darren Hayes should have more secrets. He is a pop stat after all, and aren't they supposed to tease and titillate? But Darren's a little too down-home to hold onto pretences for too long. Here, he speaks fairly frankly with Cream's Nick Bennet about adolescence, suggestions of his being gay, prospective fatherhood, fame, and a very good new album in 'The Tension and The Spark'. Introduction by Antonino Tati.
There's no doubt that is 2004, Darren Hayes is a pop star more at peace with himself. With that first 'difficult' solo album out of the way, he's moved on to produce and promote his sophomore effort, 'The Tension And The Spark'. Actually it's less of an 'effort' and more of a feat.
Having tuned in to much French chill and house music over the past three years (egs. Mirwais; Rinocerose), the borderline between mellow acoustic and dance groove is crossed regularly on 'Tension'. In fact, the album runs the gamut of ambient, pop, electro, dance, even a little rock. Lyrically, Hayes is still playing the ambiguity trump card, like in the album's first single 'Popular', where he shamelessly/sarcastically sings 'I'm will to sleep my way to the top, I wanna be popular, I don't wanna keep my feet on the ground, I wanna be popular', knowing full well the lyrics could be read one way or another: that is, with a hint or irony, or as an _expression of subtle humility. And in this day and age, both are quality traits in a music artist.
In 2002, around the time of the crossover success or 'Insatiable', Cream had Darren turn when the subjects of sex and sexuality were brought up. This time round, he's calmer in his responses to such issues. To his benefit, he was once quoted as saying, "The blessing and the curse of being me is that I feel so much." Today, he is equally as sensitive, but better seasoned. And somewhat more sensible.
Ahead of live shows in Australia this summer, Darren Hayes was flung out of a car and into a hotel lobby to clear a couple more things up with Cream.
NB: Congratulations Darren on a great sounding record.
DH: Thank you. I do like it, as egotistical as that might sound. I don't know if I've ever said that about my records so honestly, but I do, I feel very connected to this one.
NB: Why so?
DH: God, it's like the record that may never have been. It was recorded in a very brave way. When I was making it, I thought it was never gonna see the light of day. I thought it was gonna have to be a side project. I thought maybe I was gonna get dropped. I think all sorts of things when I'm not pleasing the masses or the money-maker. It was really made with that mindset, and I still can't believe it's being released.
NB: Come on, you didn't seriously think you'd be dropped by your record company? You've sold 22 million records. You're a bankable item now
DH: Well, not exactly dropped, because I have sold 22 million records, but I thought that this record might have gotten handed back to me because it was such a departure, and as much or a cliche as it sounds, it's a reinvention. I presumed that it would be met with resistance from the powers that be. Ultimately it wasnít, but at the time it was such a different record for me. I was mixing this album before my record company even knew I was making one, so you can imagine the fear and paranoia going on in my head. By the time Iíd fallen in love with it, I wasnít even sure if anyone else would like it.
NB: It sounds like an accidental record.
DH: It was totally organic and itís funny because I didnít realize how many rules and modifiers I had placed on myself. You hear artists talk about how they feel boxed in, or how they are categorised, and I was a part of that process. In general, I think part of the blessing and the curse of being successful is that you are famous for a certain thing, and then that is all people expect from you. In some ways I didnít (realise) they were also expectations Iíd placed on myself, saying ĎWell this is just an experimentí or ĎThis is gonna be like that Gorillaz (aka: Damon Albarn) project and Iíll be animatedí or itíll be Ďsomeone elseí. Itís kind of sad for me to realise the tricks that I had to play with myself to be this free, but thatís how I had to view it thinking that it may never be released, and it let me have that stream of consciousness. I have certainly let go of (my) habit of perfecting and polishing everything to the point of blandness.
NB: So who were your inspirations this time around?
DH: I was listening to a lot of different records. A lot of French music: the Mirwais album production was a huge influence on me for the last three or four years and thatís how I really became enamoured with ĎSpikeí Mark Stanton (mix engineer with a somewhat twisted sense of musicology). I really wanted to work with Stanton and heís said no in the past. Then there are these two bands, Phoenix and Rinocerose. But I donít know if I had one musical muse. In some ways I just know I wanted to make a personal record. And when I started to take that hands-on approach with the music, I let go of my heroes a little and decided that it was actually okay to be myself.
NB: Away from the music a little, and into your background, do you think you missed out on anything in your childhood?
DH: I never felt safe, ultimately. I think I play it down, but it was an emotional, very turbulent domestic situation that (my generation) graduated from. Itís funny what youíll do as a kid to reinvent and repaint your world. Me, I turned myself into ĎThe Guy from Savage Gardení. That was my way or escaping, I just dreamed of being on stage one day where the whole world would love me and I think for about a minute it worked, but ultimately Iím like any other man. We all have to grow up one day and just forgive, move one, and take responsibility for our own life.
NB: Can you ever see yourself becoming a father?
DH: Totally, but probably not without having been through this record. I think its something in the next five years or so that Iíd wanna do, but Iíve been so selfish in the past. I hadnít even realised how selfish Iíd been. I mean, the kind of ambition that I had, I canít even relate to that anymore. When I was 18, to quote myself, I was insatiable. I really was. It was an obsession almost, and today, if I had to get a record deal, I donít know if I could. Iím much more at peace with that desire, or that ambition.
NB: Are you saying that youíre not gay?
DH: I think itís a really old-fashioned question, actually. Today, itís 2004 and Iím like, ĎDo I have a burning desire to put myself into any category any more in my life?í No I donít, certainly not musically; certainly not professionally or personally. But I totally understand people asking the question. Ultimately, all people want to know about you when youíre a celebrity is, ĎHow big is it and where do you put it?í.
NB: Maybe Iím old-fashioned?
DH: I think anyone could have children, I mean my God, whether I was straight, into monkeys, married, singles, whatever, I thinks itís possible these days to have kids in any sort of capacity.
NB: Would you do it traditionally? Like, go out and find a woman?
DH: Iím not in a position to have kids at all at the moment. Do I wanna have kids one day? Absolutely, and Iím sure that itíd involve having sex and getting pregnant so Iíll let you know when that happens.
NB: What do you think has been your biggest contribution to pop culture so far?
DH: Probably tunes that you canít get out of your head. I think a good song is a good song. To me, Kylieís ĎCanít Get You Out Of My Headí has as much relevance as a Coldplay song because theyíre both made with a true intention. If Kylieís intention is just to make you get up and dance, then itís pure, and I think that Iíve had a few of those moments in my life. Maybe in 20 years time weíll look back and people will still get married to a song that I was involved in. Even that tiny vague reference to me, or what I did within the genre is cool, because pop is disposable, but at the same time, like any clichť, I think itís based on a fundamental truth.
Source: Cream Magazine 2004
Thanks to Keri at All Around Darren Hayes net
Darren Hayes Articles 2004