Hayden Thorpe “didn’t want to have to deal with the decay going on”, he told Young Post.
The former-frontman and bassist in English indie rock band Wild Beasts, was talking about when the group hung up their creative boots last year after a decade of performing together. Speaking from his London home, the 33-year-old talked to us about his debut solo album Diviner (due out on Friday), his quest for self-discovery, and why a psychic reading inspired a music video.
“I started writing in secret,” Thorpe, who started working on his own music two years ago, confessed. “Contractually, I couldn’t tell anyone that things had changed, and I couldn’t tell my bandmates because they were no longer my collaborators.”
The singer flew out to the US city of Los Angeles, where he spent time alone in a flat with nothing but a piano and his voice. “I’d become outmoded by the other members of Wild Beasts. They had become better at using a computer and producing,” Thorpe explained, who was uneasy about relying on computers to create music.
“I had begun to realise that my asset was the more intangible stuff – the songs that hang in the air, the words that linger …
“The empowerment and self-assurance [that came from writing on my own songs] was bold, bright, and very vivid, but the self-doubt was more extreme, too,” Thorpe added.
The piano’s singular, solid presence helped to alleviate some of that doubt. It provided, he said, “order and stability”, and was “something I could anchor myself on”.
With such a huge shift in his life over the past two years, Thorpe said: “This collection of songs are really my projection of a future and, at the same time, a dismantling of the past.”
Thorpe has, in the lead-up to Diviner’s release, already released two music videos; the title track, which is a tender number with burnished keys, and Love Crimes – which was shot in Australia at the order of a psychic.
“It was one of those beautiful fits because my mother’s Australian, and I have [ancestral] family members [who had been] sent there for crimes. It felt poetically right to create this piece of work.”
The video’s message is as poetic, full of imagery of anchors and ropes being pulled out of the water. “We all drag things behind us that we can’t help but drag, and we’re drawn to things we know will burn us, but we can’t help but be drawn to them. It’s the idea of not being able to let go,” Thorpe said.
This fits in with the overall theme of the record, where Thorpe is “breaking up” from himself, and every relationship he’s ever had.
“If a person goes through a hard time, it’s called a breakdown, and I can’t understand why it’s not called a break-up,” he said. “Confronting yourself and the [feelings] that come with seeing things you don’t necessarily want to [results in a] sensation of freedom – an upwards motion, or a mobility upwards.”