Flourish In The Emerald Truth: An Interview With Hayden Thorpe
Updated: Sep 30
Insisting on reason and explanation with immediate solutions for all we encounter in our world or having patience and trust in the universe; not wasting energies on matters we can not control. Kendal native and multi-instrumentalist Hayden Thorpe appreciated there must be a point where the two practices meet - their existence credible - and poured this into writing his second LP, Moondust For My Diamond, unwrapped on October 15th via Domino Recording Co.
Thorpe launched himself into the invigorating traditions of yoga and meditation, probing stimulus. "All these ancient technologies of the body that have healing properties by bringing together the head and the heart. As I explored the spiritual aspect of the work, I realised that there are many parallels in approach to my other interests in science.
The far reaches of our scientific understanding overlap with religion and the grand narratives of our time. I thought - in an age where rationale and logic rule - what music speaks of the values that have no data or metric like love and spirit? The dark matter that stitches our being together needs to be honoured and recognised more than ever,' he affirms.
Completing one-quarter of Mercury-nominated recherché indie band Wild Beasts - from adolescence to adult - designed a way of working where lone wolf survival was not an option. When the Beasts reached the end of their union, Hayden ensured that this preferred approach of working carried forth into new, uncharted territory, solo artististry, as he linked with two forward-looking, massively respected fellows for MFMD.
He will always be a thriving member of a pack. 'There really is a limit to how interesting I find my ideas. I also think there are aspects of your psyche and expression that you can’t reach on your own; you need a buddy out there in the wilds. So I’m lucky to have some amazing collaborators on this record and in life.'
He raves, 'Producers Bullion and Richard Formby enriched the work so much. Being a soloist does include a lot of alone time: that’s a major difference. But alone time doesn’t mean loneliness; songs are a constant companion.'
'Inversely, with a band, you’re very rarely on your own; all individuals within a band kind of dissolve into a singular being. A band is an organism, a totally extraordinary way of organising human beings. They really do bare your whole humanity.' Now, he finds fascination in groups as an outsider looking in.
Although he illustrates an awaking that masses could log as their Lockdown epiphany, Hayden's second album preceded the pandemic in its conception. Yet, thematically it greets many uncovered eye-opening views and self-exploration from our period of discontent. He goes on,
'I kept myself pretty busy. I think many creatives had their highly developed inner landscape to draw from over that time. Many of us thought, 'Hey! I’ve been waiting for the end of the world this whole time, I know exactly what to do.' I think myself fortunate to have already written the album when the pandemic happened, so it was more of a practical and logistical undertaking than an emotional one.'
Debut Deviner was 'a very inward album', detecting another one of life's puzzles: sorrow. Knowing that the moody blues are a necessary part of the process of riding a storm of emotions, ultimately enabling the identification of glory, facing the sun, on a crest of a wave. It is all a measure of the emotional spectrum; it's Yin; it's Yang.
"It was about the quest within. The sum total was the realisation that maybe there is no real me to locate; I’m just a story I tell myself to the world. From that point onward, I operated by bringing the outside in, not living inside-out as I had been.
'Diviner was quite a mournful album, and because I honoured that mourning, I could move through it, and life bloomed again. We need our art to honour sadness so we can explore it long enough to let it go. We medicalise sadness in society, and in doing so, we potentially lose what’s valuable about that sensation: it’s telling us something,' he appraises with sincerity.
Initiation to Moondust For My Diamond arrived in July with the first mark of the trilogy: The Universe Is Always Right. Thorpe's remarkable voice bubbles to the forefront, the music a delicate electronic bed. The level of specification in the production comes as no surprise when we learn of its master: Bullion. Hayden studied this level of care intently, lapping up the lessons, reshaping and reforming how he devises.
'Working with him was a revelation as he was very exacting with me. Every consonant I sang, every chord I strummed had to have the right intention. It might be obvious, but the lengths we went to in making sure every part was sympathetic to the whole created the technicolour sound I was seeking.' He advances, 'Changing a word because the vowel wasn’t right for the synth was a kind of extreme detail which was new to me.' It fundamentally remodelled how he writes.
Parallel Kingdom takes the hand of a medieval chant and holds the other of a contemporary, hip beat. And it was the sound of this track that showed up first and a light bolt realisation of what had always been right there under his nose. If only one can relax, let things take their course without imposed, stressy deadlines and a continual need for polish and push.
The music definitely came first with Parallel Kingdom. I’d say about five years before the words, in fact. I had that Detroit baseline bumping around for so long, but I couldn’t find an in. Then I realised it was the action of looking that had been counteracting the realisation.' He reminisces.
'That rule kind of goes for living in general, I guess. We live under a cult of control where we must go forth in a quest to succeed, and in doing so, perhaps we miss out on an existence that is alongside us the whole time, albeit a more subtle one. The words, 'allow for the wonder of this,' came from that hidden understanding.'
Last of the three, Metafeeling adopts a more genial approach, seeming lighter and airier than the previous two. But what does the word Metafeleing mean? Hayden hits the sweet spot when analysing human understanding of feeling, questioning if a particular feeling is right or wrong for any given situation and adding to unnecessary overthinking.
'I think, in a loose sense, it’s the feeling you feel about how you are feeling. It’s quite a moment when you realise that there is a sensation beneath your actual sensations. I always felt my emotions to be inherently true because they were there, but what if I surrendered to the fact that they’re an abstract thing, not necessarily real? Songwriting presupposes that feelings are a flag to be waved; this song is about the flag pole rather than the flag.'
An ornate light suit and Rock 'n' Roll have a loyal history, going together like thunder and lightning and the choice of our protagonist in his trio of music videos which sought to learn from the land, the homeland of Thorpe. With the styling, light, and movement directed absorbing knowledge of the roots and claiming victory on rocky terrain, they act as vessels of legend. He teaches in-depth with vibrancy,
'My good friend Tom Haines directed the Universe and Parallel Kingdom videos, Percy Dean directed Metafeeling. I was intent on revealing the hidden world up here in the District where I live. There is a particular colour and contour to the land, which is extremely vivid to the lens. I lean on the natural world up here a lot for the visual aspect of my work because I find it so much more extraordinary than myself.'
'The legend of our civilisation has very much become one of our inner stories. We are, each of us, individuals to the max, demigods broadcasting our every whim; this is all fine, but perhaps there’s something to be said for servitude to the mountain’s story or the forest’s story. There might be some value in there that can free us from the tyranny of ourselves.'
Each song on Moondust For My Diamond is woven from the same earthy fabric; Thorpe did not stray too far from that palate once he had located it. He ends by selecting a track from the forthcoming release that draws on his newfound theories and enriched state of mind.
'I guess my favourite track would have to be Material World, the first song on the album, as I exercised the kind of tolerance and non-control which would have previously eluded me. I really felt too much conscious effort and force on my part might undermine the subliminal space the song was coming from, so I just spent years idly singing along to myself while paying half attention until the word that felt right arrived at my lips.'
’The far reaches of our scientific understanding overlap with religion and the grand narratives of our time. I thought - in an age where rationale and logic rule - what music speaks of the values that have no data or metric like love and spirit? The dark matter that stitches our being together needs to be honoured and recognised more than ever,'