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15 Nov 2006 | Leading Men Of 2006

November 2006

"The Marrying Man" Darren Hayes, Leading Man by Tyler Steele

Darren Hayes was chosen as one of Instinct’s Leading Men Of 2006. Here are some “extras” from the interview. To read the rest of our feature on Darren, pick up the November issue of Instinct, on stands now!

INSTINCT: There had been speculation for a while about your sexual orientation. Was that hard to cope with?

DARREN HAYES: The one thing about I was always proud of was that I never lied about who I was. I always tried to have some dignity about it. For one, it took me years to work out who I was. I was married when I first hit fame, or whatever you want to call it. For me, the day that I realized...that something really significant and life changing had happened to me, I felt that I wanted the people that buy my records to know that, but I didn’t want fanfare about it, or talk about it to promote something. In general, I am such a private person. You’ll never see a picture of me with my family anywhere.

I never felt defined by my sexuality. I’m not ashamed of who I am, but at the same time the fortunate and unfortunate thing about being gay is that you are expected to declare it to the world, and there are all these phases of it.

I think I’ve been really lucky. It was never a question with me that it wouldn’t eventually become public knowledge that I was a gay man. I just wanted to make sure that my sexuality was one facet of who I am as a person, but first I am a human being and an artist and I paint with all of the colors I see. I’m proud of who I am, and very proud to live in this era and in [the United Kingdom] where having your relationship validated is a possibility. That’s a pretty amazing thing.

Getting married coincided with growing up in my life as a man. I’m 35 next year, and am finally having a normal and long-lasting, compatible and great relationship. All of my friends breathed a sigh of relief. Wow! You’re with someone normal and it actually works.

Did your recent split from Columbia Records have anything to do with your marriage?

Not at all. My music tastes have changed, and the music industry has changed. Me leaving Sony and Sony leaving me was a mutual decision and was coming for a long time. Everyone at Sony knew that I was gay, and I never had a problem with that at all. No one ever said, “You can never come out.” I know it would make a tasty story, but it’s not true at all. The president of the company was a huge fan and completely aware of my sexuality.

After an absence from the U.S. stage you wowed ‘em at the Sundance Film Festival at the beginning the year. When are you coming back for more shows?

Coming to Sundance [earlier this year] reminded me of how long I’ve been away from America, and that’s not a good memory. I love America and definitely miss playing there. I thought, I have to do something about my American career I mean I’ve had #1’s there! [laughs]. I had a couple of years where I was a little confused as to where I fit into the music scene. I’m not cynical or bitter about where I am commercially, but I’m sometimes puzzled. I definitely feel like I’ve had a pretty amazing run up-front, and you can work your whole career and never achieve those things. I’m excited about this period in my life because it’s a second chance, a second life as an artist and a musician. The fact that I still get to play around in studios and get paid to do it is great.

Tell us more about the new album you’re recording.

I just got back from Phoenix, AZ, where I was recording. I ended up leaving Columbia Records, which was exciting and terrifying at the same time. I kind of decided to just make a new record. I had an epiphany during a show at the Sydney Opera house, because I’m starting to attract an audience who don’t necessarily look only toward radio charts for what they listen to and who go out and see. I scratched the surface of who I am on stage and the kinds of records that I make.

What recording artists inspire you?

Some of my favorite artists are people like Annie Lennox, and I can’t remember the last time she had a #1 hit. I’m astounded by her talent. And because of the reputation that she has, she can fill venues around the world. I’m inspired by Imogene Heap and Kate Bush. They both worked out early on that your artistic voice is the most crucial thing to maintain. I want to work with a big label because I am a pop artist, and I want to reach the masses. I love playing larger venues. I’ve been spoiled that way early on, and learned the more records you sell, the more money you can spend on your art, the more of a fantastic show you can put on, and I am interested in that.

Are you with another label yet?

I’m talking to a few people at the moment. The thing is, I just got out of a very long record deal. I’m trying to work out the best way to do it these days. There is interest in signing me, but I want to wait a little to see where this record is going, and I want to finish it the way that I want to do it, and the relationship with a new label would have to be based on what I am doing now, and the way to do that is to maintain control of it.

Other artists have recorded some of your songs. Do you get approached a lot for that?

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