Hayden James rocked a midnight set at Perth’s The Bakery on Saturday to a delighted (albeit crammed) assortment of club-goers and fans. The night felt like some kind of guide to the current Australian dance scene, with James donning a Young Franco tee, and both he and his support Mickey Kojak playing the likes of The Aston Shuffle, Duke Dumont and Peking Duk. Kojack filled the room with instrumental house bangers before playing the likes of Disclosure to really get his audience on side.
James has spent the last few years pushing through the fringes of the underground house scene, garnering triple j support with his massive 2013 hit ‘Permission to Love’ and the recent hit sparking this tour, ‘Something About You’. His releasing of music comes steadily and sparsely, with only a five-track EP to his name alongside the ‘Something About You’ single. Like his Future Classic counterparts Flight Facilities, who released seven songs over five years, it’s clear that James lives by a “quality over quantity” mantra, and isn’t going to rush himself into a full-length album.
The use of the visual show in electronic music has become direct way for artists to animate their sound, creating interactive value for the audience. James had two white panels that converged behind him, flashing clips from music videos, swirling grid patterns and native Australian flora.
Whilst James’ approach wasn’t ground-breaking with his design or visuals, it was an engaging and welcome accompaniment to his music. In addition to his turntables and laptop, James also had a controller that lit up as he controlled track volume and triggered samples that tilted towards the audience.
He pleased the crowd with his tropical and underrated take of ODESZA’s ‘Say My Name’, where he used his signature manipulation to transform the vocals into a swooping melody. He also played an unreleased track which he “finished a couple of days ago”. There were no vocals on it, which is a possible sign he wants to move away from the festival singalong in his new material. The ultimate highlight was an extended version of ‘Something About You’, which closed the set and saw everyone jumping on their mates’ shoulders to get a snapchat video of their favourite song.
A drawback of the evening was the length of James’ set, which clocked in at a brief 45 minutes before he handed the controls back to Kojack to close the night. The interactive quality of his mixing and the coordination of the visuals with the sound probably accounts for why the set was kept to 45 minutes. He didn’t have much to say to the audience either, a sign that he was focusing on the performance.
If he can continue to build the live show and write hit songs, he looks set to break onto the international circuit in the next few years.