The Director's Cut: Hayden James 'Between Us'

Go behind the scenes for how Hayden James put together his globe-trotting, collab-heavy album 'Between Us.'
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Hayden James

Hayden James

Australian producer and musician Hayden James released his debut album Between Us. After years of singles and EPs, including his breakout 2013 self-titled EP, it was time for James to release his album. The collab-heavy album features the likes of Elderbrook, Running Touch, NAATIONS, Boy Matthews and more. It is the culmination of his work over the past half decade, taking that summery house sound and focuses it on a single theme – love and the loss of it. A poppier feel runs through the album, while danceable rhythms keep the listener on a recognizable path over the length of the LP.

Recorded around the world in Australia, LA and New York, James crafted this album over years of collaborations, bouncing from one studio session to the next. It beings together late-night soothing sounds with upbeat and fun daytime house music suited for a beach or pool.

In honor of the album’s release on Friday, we asked James to give us the details on how the album came together for the latest director’s cut. With the litany of various sessions all over the world that brought this together, James pieces together the story of this record’s development and the creative process for each song.

See past Director's Cuts with artists like Matrix & Futurebound, Sante and Devault.

Stream Between Us below and pick up a copy on your favorite digital retailer here

BETWEEN US (The album)

My debut album is about love and a deeper connection between us, between you and me. Love is the most important thing in my life and it drives everything I do. This collection of songs is the journey through different stages of relationships... love, separation and ultimately hope.

HOLD ME BACK ft. Boy Matthews

After the success of “Just Friends,” Boy Matthews and I decided to get back in the studio and write a follow-up. We write so effortlessly together and have a really special connection in the studio. “HMB” is about that grey area after a breakup. You want to move on but you’re not sure if you’re ready to let go.

NOWHERE TO GO ft. NAATIONS

I met Nicky & Natt (NAATIONS) last year in LA. I played them a bunch of demos I’d been working on and one just clicked. I’d written it the night before and they came with an incredible top line that fit just perfectly! This song has always had a big summer vibe for me - I feel a sense of freedom and hope and the notion of “you only live once” so make the most of it. “We ain’t got no better place to go, doesn’t matter cause I know you."

JUST FRIENDS ft. Boy Matthews

Boy and I wrote this in NYC early last year. The story of “Just Friends” is important to shaping the album. The production on the song was my first foray into a more pop sound that now flows through the DNA of the album. It has a very chill, summer, young love feeling.

FEELIN (INTERLUDE)

I wrote, sang and recorded “Feelin” in a little home studio in Sydney a few years back. I was influenced by Daft Punk’s Discovery album at the time. I get lost in the emotive melodies and guitar lines in “Feelin.” It takes me somewhere far away.

LOST TO YOU ft. Farr

“Lost To You” features Romeo on it. We wrote this song right before I boarded my flight back to Australia when I was writing in LA. Romeo almost didn’t make the session (he was in a car crash on the way over - he was fine!) but I think the intensity of that day lent itself to the song coming together so quickly. This is a late-night mood track and one of my favorites on the album.

BETTER TOGETHER Ft. Running Touch

“Better Together” takes me back to “Something About You” vibes. It's got a strong, simple melody with chopped vocals throughout. Running Touch and I wrote this over a couple days in the studio, as well as many Skype sessions from the Future Classic studios in LA and Running Touch's Melbourne studio. This song is about knowing you’re with the right person and that life is better together with them.

BETWEEN US ft. Panama

I met Jarrah from Panama two years ago and it was the first time we started to sketch the idea of “Between Us.” The first time I heard his voice I knew we could write something very special together. This is a journey song for me that follows a story of a post-breakup and wanting to put the pieces back together.

REMEMBER YOU ft. Elderbrook

It was so great to work with Elderbrook on this track. We sent a couple of ideas back and forth over the last year and this one stuck. It’s a little different for both of us but I feel it’s extremely emotive and tells a beautiful story. “Remember You” feels sad to me... like you’ve lost someone but they’ll always have a presence in you life.

FAVOURS ft. Nat Dunn

I wanted a more house / driving bass line-style song on the album and when Natt Dunn sent me the top line she was working on, “Favours” was born. This is a late night, driving on the freeway with the windows down kind of feel.

NUMB ft. Graace

This is one of the first songs I wrote for the record. Graace and I wrote this in Manly, Australia one afternoon. I couldn’t get that chorus melody out of my head. Being a slower, super emotive track, it was fun to write and something different for me. I’ve had so many people reach out to say how much the song meant to them on a personal level.

WEIGHTLESS ft. Shungudzo

This song came from an early demo I wrote a few years ago when I was on tour in the States. I love how summery and vibey the chords feel. I started writing a floating / pop top line and when I met Shungudzo in LA, it all fell into place. Her breathy vocal really carries me through the track... it’s weightless. I feel like it’s the perfect song to end the album with.

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