Upon finding out about Darren Hayman’s January Songs project, for which he will produce 31 brand new songs — one each day — by month’s end, I immediately emailed the songwriter asking him to write one about Miami. Hayman’s band Hefner was all the rage in the late ’90s, going so far as securing a spot in John Peel’s tasteful heart. I was sure my email would end up electronic trash — after all, Hayman was Hefner’s leading man — but Hayman’s reply came as quickly as his song: “OK, I’ll do a song about Miami today.”
The gentleman from Essex was kind enough to deliver “Esplanade Drive”, a whimsically sad song about falling out of love in Miami. If it sounds a little like Hot Chip meets Miami Vice, it’s because Hayman chose his instruments accordingly. “Because it’s the 7th today, I used a DX7, a classic 80s keyboard, so I guess I had Crockett’s Theme in the back of my head (which I have covered before),” Hayman said.
Hayman answered a few more questions about January Songs, which he says is “a truly ridiculous project. It’s all about speed.” Speed, indeed. Ridiculous, methinks not.
What inspired January Songs?
Darren Hayman: I get down sometimes and hard work is always the thing that lifts me. I also — like everyone else — worry about money, so I thought it would be interesting to work as hard as I could for no money at all to see what it would do to both me and my creativity. I’m not showing off. I think some of the songs will be bad.
How are you crafting the songs — music first, an idea, a word?
Darren Hayman: Different ways on different days. Today I read your email, and I was just glad to have any idea at all. So I went to the keyboard with the word “Miami” in my head. That said, the music was all finished today before I thought hard about the words.
Did you have any preconceived notions of Miami, or did you go from a blank slate?
Darren Hayman: I’m sad to say only from TV. I was thinking about CSI and then Miami Vice. Then I remembered Doctor Green dying in Miami in ER. I began singing and came up with the word “esplanade” and thought that there is bound to be an esplanade in Miami. I checked on Google Street View and found Esplanade Drive. I imagined a couple who always dreamed of Miami moving there and then, sadly, falling out of love. … I’m sure noone actually falls out of love in Miami.
Here’s Hayman’s January 7 entry in the January Songs video diary.
Update: Hayman posted a video for “Esplanade Drive” featuring footage of Old Miami on the January Songs website.