If you’re seeking the best of what’s next in the electronic music world, you need look no further than Future Classic. Since its founding in 2004, the Sydney-based record label has been curating a roster of artists (Flight Facilities, Chet Faker, Cashmere Cat) that is adventurously pushing the limits of what we know as “dance music.” Case in point: recent Future Classic signee Hayden James.
Though his music falls under the larger umbrella of electronic, James’s approach and vibe feel wholly organic. He composes on pianos, plays drums, and sings — and his records are a groovy soup of sparkly production, thumping bass, and soulful lyricism. This Saturday, April 4, James makes his S.B. debut at the Blind Tiger. In advance, I traded emails with the Aussie to talk about laptop thieves, birthday cakes, and beach music.
I know you started off playing in bands. What led you to producing? I wanted a change in musical direction, but also I wanted to do something for myself that I was 100 percent in control of and was totally up to me. Nobody to blame but myself; I like that.
How does your knowledge of live instrumentation translate into your writing? What is your process like? When I write, I almost always start with playing a piano or synth to get an idea down, and I’m always learning new production techniques and buying new/weird plugins. My process is always different, though. I can start with a vocal idea or a chord progression or just a melody line, and it builds from there.
Prior to signing with Future Classic, what were you doing for work? I was studying at university and deejaying some weekends.
Was there a watershed moment when you realized things were taking off? My latest single, “Something About You,” just hit two million plays on SoundCloud in three months, which is so crazy to me. It’s a really great feeling when you find out people are connecting with your music. I never take it for granted.
How do you approach the live show nowadays? And how do you avoid the whole dude-playing-a-laptop thing? I play a bunch of stuff onstage: sampler pads, synths, drum pads, etc. There’s a lot going on, and I love changing up my set and what I play.
What was the best show you’ve played? I just finished my first headlining tour in Australia, and all of those shows were amazing! I sold out most of the shows, which was crazy and such a good vibe. I would have to say the two shows at the Oxford Art Factory were some of my favorite/best shows.
Who is on your collaborator wish list, and what are you listening to currently? There are always a few artists I have on my mind to collaborate with. I tend to look for people that have different skills than me, or that do things a little differently so we complement each other in the writing process. I’m currently listening to Jamie xx, Odesza, and Caribou, to name a few.
What’s the first website you check when you wake up in the morning? When I wake up, New York has already had an eight-hour day, so I look to see if there’s been any major trends in birthday-cake decorations. You don’t want to be left behind in the fast-paced world of cake decorating.
Any tour horror stories? I had my laptop stolen off the stage right before a gig once. We found the guy about 15 minutes later trying to leave the venue. I got it back and played the show!
Best meal you’ve eaten on the road? Well, Harrison [Mills] from Odesza is cooking for me the night before the tour starts, so I’m going to assume that will be the best meal I’ve had on the road. The pressure is mounting!
If someone asked you for the perfect place to listen to your music, where would you send them? Somewhere warm and on the coast. I’m going to say a beach.
Hayden James plays Blind Tiger (409 State St.) on Saturday, April 4, at 9 p.m. with opener aRod. For tickets and info, visit haydenjames.nightout.com.