Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Featured Artist, Isaac Hayden

Welcome Featured Artist
Isaac Hayden

"Once you’ve seen Isaac Hayden perform live, you’ll understand immediately that he is doing what he loves to do. Full of passion, pain, love, hope, and years of toiling away amidst the undercurrent of indie artists, Isaac’s music grasps at the heart-strings of a generation that has chosen to find a new path, a new way to live… "

Photo by Laura Godwin

I would really love to give a better introduction of my dear friend Isaac Hayden than that, but this pretty much says it perfectly. I was lucky enough to befriend Isaac back in Feb. while he was up in Yosemite for a show. A long time mutual friend, Noah Waldron of Capsicum Pro Audio & Visual, had been telling me for ages that I needed to hear Isaac's music. Well, I finally did, and I understood why.

Watching Isaac perform live is such a treat. His songs tell story's that take you to a place you know that you've been once too.  My personal favorite is "Old Headlights", and "Wyoming" reminds me of the way I feel about the place I live and love. I loved watching him delve into the Blues and taking that soulful voice of his and rubbing some serious funk on it. He has a real charisma on stage that keeps you captivated.

Isaac is one of the most honest and genuine people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. When he laughs here in this interview, I hear his wonderful and contagious laugh. He is modest, and unbelievably gracious to his fans. Qualities that I hope never disappear with the fame that is soon coming.

So, pull up Isaac's website here: http://www.isaachayden.com/ in another window, and enjoy his beautiful music while getting to know this wonderful man.

Thanks for stopping in.

1. Who are you, where are you from, how old are you? Tell us about yourself.

My name is Isaac Hayden and I’m a musician from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I’ve been playing music for the last ten years and I recently turned 30!!! People tell me I look 25 though. Baby face.

Photo by Laura Godwin

2. What genre of music do you consider your work to be?

It’s a blend of acoustic singer-songwriter stuff mixed with some blues and soul and folk-pop.

3. Who are your major influences?

The first music I can remember hearing and finding a connection with was the Red Hot Chili Peppers, ha ha. Me and my 9 year old best friend Nate snuck into his big brothers room and popped the Blood Sugar album into the tape deck. We stumbled on this song called ‘Apache Rose Peacock’ and listened to it about 50 times straight - It wasn’t a profound song, but it had a killer groove and this one line, “Oh good brother, just when I thought that I had seen it all… my eyes popped out my dick got hard and I dropped my jaw…” For whatever reason, we found that line immensely hysterical and laughed for hours. That was the first time I remember being affected by music.

Photo by Laura Godwin

Later on I fell in love with Stevie Wonder, Harry Chapin, Cat Stevens, Jeff Buckley, Martin Sexton, Joni Mitchell, and so many others. Harry Chapin’s tune, ‘A Better Place to Be,” is still one of my favorites… I remember feeling transported inside that song like I was living the actual experience. Listening to these artists is what made me fall in love with music.

4. Do you play with a band or do you prefer to play solo? If so, what band do you play with?

I’ve played with a band before, and have some great musician friends in Wyoming I collaborate with when home. When I moved to Nashville I met AlMichael Rodgers. He plays cajon (a box looking percussion instrument), and we started messing around a lot and he even performed on my latest live album.

More recently, I’ve been lucky to have my friend Jared Kneale play cajon with me. Jared has a unique cajon, made in Australia. It allows him to use all of his limbs for controlling a different percussion instrument. It’s really great because he’s able to create a fuller sound with a lot less. He’s been helping me structure the songs so they will make more sense in a band format, which is something we’re working toward right now. So, I generally play solo, or as a duo with Jared or AlMichael, and hopefully someday we will be able to turn it into a full band sound.

5. Besides anyone mentioned above, what other musicians do you enjoy playing with?

I really just enjoy playing music with anyone who enjoys playing music. There’s something transcendent and incredible about bringing musicians who are dedicated to their craft together, because it is an opportunity to share and connect on a common ground where there is no wrong or right, to learn something new and participate in a new form of expression.

6. When and how did you decide to become a professional musician?

Ha, well, I think it’s something that I’m continually deciding every day. When I first started playing music it was simply because I enjoyed it. I didn’t know anything about the business or the hardships or challenges, the road that leads to becoming a ‘professional’ musician. When I realized that I loved music enough to make it my life I began, and continue, the slow process of educating myself on the ins and outs of how to do just that.

Photo by Laura Godwin

Unfortunately, there are no clear paths to making a successful career in music. However, because there are no set paths, there is more room for entrepreneurial creativity, which in theory is something I should be good at, being in the creative field. But I’m not! What I’ve learned is that I can’t work the business side, be creative and write songs, perform live, record albums, travel, and stay on top of all that is necessary… by myself. Part of my decision to become a professional musician has been to build a team of people who share a common belief in the music, and who bring other assets to the process, so that I can continue learning in the areas I work best in.

7. Can you tell us about the instruments you play? How did you decide to play these instruments and what do you love about them?

I play an acoustic Taylor 614-CE series guitar. It was actually a “loaned gift” from my first producer, Mr. Kent Nelson. It was a beautiful looking and sounding guitar, and at the time, the nicest instrument I’d ever played. It’s been with me since I began playing music in any type of professional manner, so I have a deep connection with it; that, along with its wonderfully consistent tone and intonation, is why I still love it. It’s not very pretty anymore though. ☺

Photo by Kali Collado

8. What are your favorite and least favorite venues to play? Why? Do you play covers?

I love any venue that allows the listener(s) to connect with the music and provides the chance to find something they want to take with them after the show is over (like a cd. Ha ha, just kidding…. but not really ) Anywhere this happens is a great venue. I play cover songs when I’m hired to entertain a bar room or house party, but my goal is always to create and play my original music.

9. What are your favorite songs to play?

I love playing any song that connects with a person. If it connects on some level, and holds a person throughout, then I love to play that song. It’s a process though; trial and error, and sometimes it takes a song a long time to develop. It may be finished, but usually it takes time for a song to find its place. When it eventually settles it’s an excellent feeling.

Photo by Laura Godwin

10. Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time?

I write my songs, and also co-write with other people. Most of the topics are a realistic or abstract retelling of a personal experience. I think the themes and topics are forever changing in direct relation to how I change as a human. Right now I’m really set on changing the tone of my songs so they can carry a little more relevance in today’s world. I love writing love songs, or songs about something that happened a long time ago, but it starts to feel empty when it’s all I write about. I’m really focused on trying to write songs that are applicable to right now, today.

11. How would you define the word “success?”

To me, success is doing something you believe in because you hope that it will inspire positive change or growth in yourself and the people you come in contact with.

Photo by Laura Godwin

12. Where do you find your inspiration? Who or what inspires you?

Inspiration is elusive at best. I don’t know how or where to find it. It seems to come and go as it wishes, without much thought as to who needs or wants it. All I’ve learned about inspiration is to try and develop the tools I use to interact with it, so that when it comes, I have a greater palette to draw from in that moment. It’s an incredibly indefinable phenomenon that manifests when it’s ready; so I find it by waiting patiently, in excited anticipation.

13. Could you briefly describe the music making process?

It’s strange, because often the music making process is coupled with that elusive inspiration which refuses to be bound by any process. So for me it’s like an interpretive dance or something, ha ha. That sounds funny, but it’s true. As ideas come, I work with them and try and develop them into something that flows with the original idea. It might be a melody or a guitar riff or words, but whatever it is, I explore it and try and make it contribute to the foundational idea. There’s no real beginning or end to the process, it just continues until I reach the place where the creation feels complete and the idea feels sound, or in some cases, until I’ve backed myself into a corner and need to just start over.

14. How has your music evolved since you first began playing music?

A friend of mine here in Nashville, who is a wealth of knowledge on poetic and philosophical writings, shared a short excerpt with me by John Gardner, called “On becoming a novelist.” It was painful to listen to, because it points directly at the manifested ego of a young creative mind, but also forgiving, in pointing out that this manifestation is an unavoidable act of growth. I’m boiling it down, but the essential point is that a young creative mind begins the quest in belief that it has something more important to say than anything which has been said. The creative predecessors to this young mind are viewed as miss-lead, even wrong, and with need of correction.

As time goes by and the young creative mind enters into maturity, it no longer views itself as having the answer to said question, but rather, a voice in the chorus of all who are addressing the question. It becomes a part of the body, instead of falsely believing itself to be the whole body.

I think this is often a sub-conscious dilemma in all people who want to say something unique with their life, because any new idea must have the unfounded confidence to get off the ground, because you are the only person turning the wheel. Once your wheel is turning though, you begin to see that you are just a part of the greater machine, which is humbling… and reinvigorating, to know you’re not alone, and to know you’re a part of something vastly bigger than yourself.

I really wanted to share this, though I don’t know what it has to do with the question, ha ha. I guess what I’m saying is, as I’ve passed through phases of creative growth and maturity, hopefully the music has, too.

15. What has been your biggest challenge as a musician? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?

My greatest challenge as a musician has been overcoming my own self-doubt. What I’ve learned is that we are all unique, with our own perspective on the world, and it’s ok to share that perspective. If I remain open to my own uniqueness and allow other people to operate in theirs, it seems like the pangs of self-doubt become less relevant. It’s a moment to moment, day to day process.

16. What are your goals and dreams, and where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I’m working hard at bringing my dreams into the realm of achievable goals. My goal tomorrow is the same goal I have for ten years from now; to be playing music to more people than I am right now, writing songs that are more applicable to the world we live in, and to be a better, more educated man with more to say, and less to worry about. I’d also like to be living in Fiji in ten years, surfing and writing music on the beach… at least a few months out of the year. ☺

17. What advice do you have for people who want to become professional musicians?

A few pieces of advice some friends shared with me come to mind. First, no one will ever care about your music more than you do. Secondly, sometimes it takes a while for people to ‘hear’ you, for them to connect with you, for what you’re saying and what people want/need to hear to reach common ground. So, be patient.

It’s really important to love music... Be prepared to have nothing; nothing but your instrument and your belief in what you’re doing. If you’ve got that, then work hard at being persistent, and never give up. I think the world needs more people who follow their heart instead of the societal norm of comfortableness and security. So come on let’s play some music motha fu$%as!

18. Where can you be found?

Anywhere they serve a decent pale ale and have some good live music… Or, on iTunes, isaachayden.com, facebook.com/isaachayden, twitter.com/isaachayden. Either way, please stop by and say hi!!!

19. Any last words?

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and please continue to search out music that is not made readily available to you. The music that falls randomly into your lap from a friend, or the music you pass on that no one has heard, is how we keep real music going. Keep passing it along, and keep searching it out. Don’t let the corporate conglomerates re-configure your mind to make you think Miley Cyrus is actually what you want to hear... even if it is. Party in the USA bitches!! Do some research, find the music that hits you because you know the person making it has experienced something you can relate to. And above all, all, all else… never, ever, ever, ever, let the government illegalize beer again. ☺




I truly hope that you have enjoyed getting to know Isaac as much as I have.  I hope you will share this Post, leave a comment, and introduce yourself.

Thank you!

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