“I can’t imagine the pressure of maintaining the popularity I had with Savage Garden
and how what would impact both my music and my private life,” Hayes told Ambiente,
noting the liberation he has experienced since leaving the
chart-topping band.  “When you’re a cash
cow for a record label, you are expected
to full the edges a little to appeal to the
masses.”

With This Delicate Thing, though, Hayes
made a deliberate decision to keep the
outcome cutting edge and risk parting
ways with his Savage Garden fan base.  
Doing so, he told Ambiente was a
deliberate move meant to
focus on his art, rather than
his image, and find an inner
voice – and outer image
– that matched with his
own passions and personal
integrity.

“I can honestly say my
success in the past was
accidental to a degree,”
he said in our interview.
“But I could see in the
future that where I was
going was not going to
be what a major label
I am a big kid and I can take it, but I’m often disappointed in the media, who will
sometimes use slurs when reviewing my work.  I had a lads’ DVD magazine refer to me
as ‘mincing about the stage’ in a review of a live show, and I couldn’t believe that was
considered fair or appropriate.”

“If I weren’t openly gay, I don’t think they’d have dared to say something so
condescending,” he added. “But in general, people are gorgeous and my hardcore fan
base even more so.”

At the end of the day, he says, being true to himself, and open about who he is, has
been well worth the obstacles encountered along the way.

“I think coming out has affected my career both positively and negatively,” Hayes said.  
“But the negatives were a small price to pay. The positives are endless – and they are
all centered around inspiring young people who are struggling with their identity, and, of
course, my own personal sense of freedom and happiness.”

“The negatives,” he noted, “involve being categorized and pushed aside as perhaps no
longer being considered a ‘contender.’”

Nonetheless, what would his advice to a young, gay musician who wants to come out
and sing, too?

“My advice is simple,” Hayes told Ambiente.  “Do it for yourself.  And when you’re ready.”

In finding his own voice, in his own times, Hayes acknowledges that his “sound” has
evolved, too, and for the better.

“I think, in the beginning of my career, I was rebelling against my environment and
music was a sort of wishful thinking,” he said.  “I was writing songs about places and
emotions that I hadn't truly experienced.  But later on, as I travelled the world, I think the
music was hugely influenced by where I was living.  New York
www.ambiente.us  APRIL | ABRIL 2009

The Contender:  An Interview with Darren Hayes
by Steve Ralls, Exclusively for Ambiente

Darren Hayes grew up in Australia, had a hit record in America and now lives in
London.  He left a hugely successful band for a critically acclaimed solo career, came
out of the closet and got married and has dined with Madonna.  So
what's left for a upwardly mobile gay man in the music industry to do?

Release an album of songs accompanied by cutting edge animation, of course.

The former front man for Savage Garden has recently invited comparisons to David
Bowie with the release of his latest solo effort, This Delicate Thing We've Made, which
can be best described as an audio-visual journey complete with music, animation and
a very big dose of originality and empowerment.

The album, and much of Hayes’ recent personal history, is unquestionably inspired
and influenced by his independence as an artist, un-tethered to a major record label,
and by being comfortable in his own skin, following his public coming out and his
marriage to his partner, Richard.

The result, Hayes is quick to point out, is a musical and personal endeavor he’s
immensely proud of.
.
.
.
.
.
played a huge part in the feeling of isolation on some songs in my Savage Garden
days. Later on, England left its mark all over my most recent album. I think of it was quite
eccentric – in that very British way – in parts.”

“Geography,” he said, “is hugely important in terms of song writing.”

The influence, diversity and relative tolerance of Europe has played a role in Hayes’
journey. He makes his home in London now and, even though he acknowledges that
“discrimination exists wherever you live,” it’s clear he has found a comfortable home
base to hone his music, career and family life.  It is that sense of self and uniqueness,
he told Ambiente, that makes London a place where almost anyone can feel
comfortable expressing themselves as they see fit.

“I think Europe displays perhaps more religious diversity, and therefore the notion of
conformity is not as prevalent,” he said. “At least in the U.K., for example, there are
Hindus, Islamists, Christians, Orthodox Jews and other non-Christian religions
. . . all making their mark on daily life and culture. I think the variety of [people] helps
breed a sense of multi-ness,” Hayes adds, also noting that, “I may have just made that
word up.”

Multi-ness is also on display in This Delicate Thing, which features heartfelt lyrics,
some club-ready beats and a sound that belongs to Hayes alone.  And he, for one,
wouldn't have it any other way.

“I think the things that sets this particular phase of my career apart from the masses, at
the moment, is the sense of bravery from all involved,” he said.  “The band, the co-
songwriters, the producers and, of course, all the visual artists involved truly gave their
all and did so without thinking of financial gain. It was about leaving a permanent mark.”

And, if the reviews are any indication, Hayes has done just that.  This Delicate Thing has
been compared, by some, the best works of David Bowie.  It’s a comparison Hayes
says he finds “flattering,” but that, he knows, can also be fleeting.
“[L]et’s see if people are still saying nice things like that in twenty years,” he said. “David
Bowie is a legend and a true innovator. I feel like I've only just got into my stride recently.”

His new stride, though, has found Hayes keeping some very enviable company.  He
recently found himself at a dinner table with Madonna.

“Well, I was but one of a handful of guests,” he says modestly, “and truth be told, not
invited by the Queen [herself], but by a mutual friend.”

And what was it like?

“Surreal, because she’s so stunning in person.  Massive, aqua-colored eyes, like the
ocean.  And very, very charming.”

And if you can judge a man by the company he keeps, and the talent he shows, Hayes
is by any measure quickly overcoming any outside obstacles and becoming, on his own
terms, a true musical contender after all.






CLICK HERE For more articles by Steve Ralls


Copyright ©  AMBIENTE MAGAZINE.   Do not reproduce without citing these sources.
wanted from the artist on a trajectory they hoped I would follow.  I needed to branch off
and try things, which I obviously did.”

And in the midst of that professional transformation came a personal evolution as well.  
Last fall, Hayes married his partner and came out publicly.  

His public acknowledgment of his sexual orientation caused barely a ripple in the
media.  And, Hayes says, he even sometimes has to refresh his husband’s memory of
his pre-marriage moment of fame . . . with a little help, on occasion, from his fans.

“We had a fan crash our first-ever dinner date,” Hayes said.  “So Richard got pretty used
to my strange life from day one.  He’s absolutely proud of me and my career, but it
doesn't affect his life or our relationship because we draw a really clear line.  We've
always tried to point out that he is not in the spotlight, nor does he want to be.  He lets
me go and do my thing, but I come home to him and our day-to-day life, which is as
normal as anyone else’s. We jokingly argue over who’s turn it is to make a cup of tea or
feed our dogs or change the bin liner.  Being surrounded by grounded people is how
I've managed to get through this career without becoming an asshole. My marriage is
an extension of that.  Sometimes, I have to even remind Richard when we’re washing
dishes that I am, in fact, rather famous!”

Yet, while his coming out was no concern to most of his fans, the music industry, and
the large sphere Hayes works and lives in, hasn't always been unabashedly welcoming.

“Yes, I have experience homophobia,” he told Ambiente.  “I imagine all gay men have.  
From journalists, people in the street, taxi drivers and even the odd fan.
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