This Delicate Thing He's Made
By Bill Chenevert
As one half of the Australian pop duo Savage Garden, Darren Hayes chica-cherry-cola-ed his way up the charts and into the hearts of teenage girls -- and gay men -- the world over, eventually selling more than 23 million albums. In 2001 he went solo in order to venture into an edgier, more electronic and personal direction, but didn't find the freedom to produce exactly the kind of music he wanted until he left Columbia Records. Then he was able to write and independently release last year's epic double disc This Delicate Thing We've Made, travel the world with his theatrical Time Machine tour and, this coming November, put out This Delicate FILM We've Made which features animated versions of the album's songs inked by his partner, Richard Cullen.
Out caught up with Hayes and chatted about what it's like to be possessed by the spirit of Kate Bush, being banned from dancing in his own videos, and Savage Garden's lingering mixed blessings.
Out: Every one of your interviews seems to start off talking about Savage Garden. Does that get to you or have to come to terms with it?
Darren Hayes: You know, I think it's the latter. I was talking to my good friend Willie Williams. He's really a mentor to me. His day job is designing U2 stadium gigs, and he does all these tiny other things that people don't even know about. Willie made me realize that just in the way that U2 will always be the thing that people associate with him, Savage Garden will probably always be the thing that people will associate with me. You really just have to make your peace with it. It's just the way it is -- like Madonna and her Sex book.
Your solo work sounds very different from what you did with Savage Garden.
Yeah, well the thing is that it wouldn't exist without Savage Garden. Savage Garden was phenomenally successful, and yet the music I make today really doesn't sound anything like that. Thank God I sold all those records. Also I'm 36 -- I was 24 when I got a record deal and was flown to New York by Clive Davis and auditioned. That was my first time in Manhattan. I was green -- and that's a compliment, I guess, because that means the music was very green and innocent.
2007 was a big year for you -- you released This Delicate Thing We've Made and you hit the road with your Time Machine tour.
Well, I think the biggest thing for me was that I was independent. I had been signed to Columbia Records for a decade and this was the first record I was putting out on my own. I look back now and think I was sort of crazy not to anticipate how hard it was going to be. I'm not Radiohead. I don't have this massive, massive following as a solo artist to really promote a record the way that it needs to be promoted. Not only does it cost a lot of money, but it also costs a lot of time. And Richard and I are coming up on our third anniversary, and we're going to enjoy this one -- no stress this year.
You worked with your husband on the animations for the videos from This Delicate FILM We've Made. Blissful or stressful?
It's amazing. I think it helps because Richard was a theater director before he moved into film, and he's used to working with actors. [He's] not threatened by an actor's or singer's or a celebretype's need for attention. And likewise, I really love giving over control to someone I respect. What I love about this experience with Richard is that he'll listen to some of the important themes. There are some videos that he's made that I was very specific about what the song was about and what it had to be, and he was very sympathetic to that. But he wasn't a sycophant, so he would still make it his thing. Or there are other moments that were completely his take on the song and I'd think, God, that's exactly what it's about but I would never have written the treatment that way and I would have never developed it that way. There's a lot of respect that goes on. And it feels like a kind of temporary farewell, I think. For me this album was such an extravagant experience -- and in retrospect it was probably way too long. But this animated film will be something that will be around forever. I'm doing the things that I've always wanted to do and getting it out of my system. I know that the next thing that I do will be much quieter and much simpler. This record was all about over-design and hyper-punctuation.