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Hayden coming to FOTR with brand new album
Artist back into musical scene with folk festival tour

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services

After taking time off of touring and promotion to focus on his family, Toronto-based indie-rock and folk singer Hayden is looking to be one of the more anticpated acts of this years Folk on the Rocks.

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Paul Hayden Desser, or simply Hayden, will be a much anticipated act at Folk on the Rocks this year. The indie and folk singer will be coming as part of a returning tour after being absent for several years from the music scene. - photo courtesy of Vanessa Heins of Arts and Crafts

The 42-year-old artist is fondly remembered for his early success in the '90s with Everything I Long For. Hayden has been absent in recent years, not giving giving interviews or performing live.

But now he is back, delivering his seventh record Us Alone in February. Hayden said he has been re-inspired to share his music with listeners. The album was announced as a nominee for the 2013 Polaris Prize, an award given for the best Canadian music album regardless of label or sales, last month.

"I will say that I am in a good space because I am working with a new, three-piece band," he said, referring to bandmates Taylor Knox and Jay McCarrol. "We are not only performing new material, but for the first time, I am excited about performing songs in a sort of a different way, some of which are 18-years-old. We are rethinking and rediscovering those songs in a different way."

Us Alone is Hayden's first since releasing The Place Where We Lived in 2009. Hayden did not do much promotion for the album, either through press or touring, which he said makes him see himself as having been away for even longer.

The absence, however had to do more with prioritizing personal issues at home, rather than any dissatisfaction with music.

"My wife and I had a daughter with special needs and there was a year period where music wasn't my focus," he said. "So I needed time away with my family and figure things out. Later, there was a moment where I just wanted to start writing and expressing myself again and that is when this record just started taking form."

He insists the writing of the record was never about having to put another record out, but rather naturally being inspired to, given where he was in his life. The new album, released by Arts and Crafts, has received a number of positive reviews from media outlets such as Now Magazine and the National Post.

Hayden is in high demand, having played roughly 30 dates since the beginning of February, all across Canada. Along with the Yellowknife gig June 20, he will be playing folk festivals in Vancouver, Calgary, Guelph, Regina, and Ottawa between now and September.

Playing the amount of shows as he is only makes the band tighter, he said, pointing out that it is a good thing because relaunching was difficult. The talents of Knox and McCarrol were critical to his relaunching, he said.

"If truth be told, those two are so good, their voices are so good and they are multi-instrumental with their own music careers," he said. "I was the weak link in the first month (we were playing together) because I hadn't done it in so long. It was so long that it was a bit scary and I felt like I had forgotten how to do it. They both also play with a lot of people and play their own show and I had to catch up with them for the first month."

Wherever he has been in recent years, Hayden is excited to be making his Yellowknife debut, as well as his life in general. Much of that sentiment could be seen in a telephone conversation he had with Yellowknifer last week.

At the time, he had also been waiting for a new guitar to arrive by UPS.

"I crazily bought a new guitar off of eBay, which is a daring move," he observed chuckling. "It just arrived 10 minutes before you called and I was just taking it out of the bubble wrap. It is in beautiful condition and it might be my new favourite guitar."

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