Moondust for My Diamond

Moondust for My Diamond

As he was writing his second solo album, Hayden Thorpe began organizing what he called “salons,” a series of hybrid shows in which the former Wild Beasts frontman would improvise on piano and vocals, in the midst of a gong bath or breath workshop, his audience on their backs. “That was a really powerful experience to sing and play to people in rhythm to their response, their bodies, and their kind of surrender,” he tells Apple Music. “Everyone’s improvising—the breath practitioners and the people on the floor, too. Everyone’s like, ‘I don’t know where this is going.’ The main message of the record is to give yourself permission, to explore what real can be, to allow for the wonder of this.” It is, “if we’re being old-fashioned about it,” Thorpe says, a foray into “aspects of hippiedom” and the outright mystical. But Moondust for My Diamond is also a deep, synth-driven exploration of the ways in which we self-mythologize, crafting the story of who we are through a loose patchwork of ancient and modern signifiers—“a bit of that yoga, a bit of that rock ’n’ roll, a bit of that God-fearing sort of Catholic stuff,” he says. Though it was written mostly pre-pandemic, it was finished in Thorpe’s boyhood home, in the mountains of Northern England’s Lake District. “It’s made up of a lot of the stranger, more experimental aspects of my life over the past couple of years,” he says, “as I was dabbling in unknown practices. I had a rugged Northern upbringing, and for me, bringing in aspects of Eastern mysticism made me realize, ‘You know, maybe I don’t have to tell the story of myself quite in the same way that I thought I had.’ It feels like an adventure.” Here, Thorpe guides us through the entire album, track by track. “Material World” “A song that I’m really proud of because it was a grand experiment. I didn’t chase it down. We live under the culture of control where we deem ourselves the architects of whatever we want, and I didn’t want for that song. I went forth in faith that it would turn up for me, and in doing so, the words came. I had to be alert and together enough to allow them to come. One day, I just spat it out, that line: ‘It’s only real if I make it.’” “The Universe Is Always Right” “It’s a slogan song, which is kind of interesting because my greatest hero is Leonard Cohen, and he despised slogan songs. He criticized Lennon and ‘Give Peace a Chance’-type songs as being cheap and derivative of marketing music. I thought it was a bit dirty for me, but I was also interested in what a slogan is: a spell. And a spell is a spelling, an arrangement or alignment of letters and words that creates an emotional response. So, it kind of felt like casting a spell, that chord together with those words.” “No Such Thing” “The spoken-word aspect, it’s kind of like a pepper-and-salt situation. Clearly, my singing voice is kind of a committed one. And some words you disguise by singing—the singing gives them too much thrust, and actually, the purity and the beauty is in the words themselves rather than the delivery. There’s only so much of myself I can tolerate, and I probably found myself more tolerable in that moment. But a lot of craft, really, as a lifelong pursuit, is really removing all the performance and kind of doing more with less.” “Parallel Kingdom” “I think those salon gigs were definitely a prologue to the record. Some of the language is inferred in the record and the line in ‘Parallel Kingdom,’ when I sing, ’Allow for the wonder of this,’ came straight out of that. It’s to say, ‘Just let it come to be.’” “Golden Ratio” “A golden ratio is kind of a mathematical phenomenon, like a Fibonacci sequence, a shell, an arrangement of sunflower seeds. It’s a perfect equation where one thing fits within another. It explains the symmetry of the universe, from the smallest subjects to the grandest. My operatic moment here is that science is a grander force that we can live by, that will rescue our souls. Because it has revealed to us the miraculous—the miracle that we are.” “Metafeeling” “It’s the feeling you feel about what you’re feeling. I think we live in a society that leaves us stranded within our own emotions, because we’ve become beholden to them. In an individualistic society, you must hold your own emotions to be so crucially important, because all you have is yourself. But really, they’re just kind of passing weather systems. Through various lifelong ways of dissolving that relationship to my own emotions, I kind of realized maybe it wasn’t all that bad or wasn’t that serious. So, it’s a song about surrender, to say, ‘I don’t know what I think, and I don’t know everything anymore. Maybe I don’t have to.’” “Supersensual” “I like the line ‘808 upon my chakra.’ That, to me, summed up a lot of the record and came about from watching an interview Letterman did with Kanye, who spoke about the resonance of the 808 kick drum stimulating the sacral chakra—the sex chakra—and the hyper masculinity of hip-hop and R&B kind of hitting your sex organs simultaneously. It was a real enlightening moment for me. I just thought it was absolutely incredible, this meeting of the kind of corporate end of the music business with Eastern mysticism with, in my opinion, a visionary maker. I think that mysticism is entering our daily psyche—and we are more beholden to it than we dare realize or allow ourselves to believe.” “Hotel November Tango” “Hotel November Tango is HNT—Hayden Norman Thorpe. It’s a song I wrote to myself about myself. In some respects, incredibly indulgent. But the point being, we’re all alone in ourselves. We were born into this body, and we somehow have to make it work. And we get it wrong until we get it right. It’s a lifelong quest to get out of ourselves, to get out of our heads. That’s maybe a big part of desire and a big part of the miracle of sexuality, which, in ways, is the grand releaser of our own skin. To kind of become another, and for another to become us.” “Rational Heartache” “It’s coming from the fact that we medicalize sadness in our society. We deem it to be an un-useful state of being. So, we drug it, we ostracize it, we stigmatize it. And in doing so, we lose its value. That’s not to say that I disagree with forms of therapy and antidepressants. I don’t—I’ve been there, they work. But it’s to say, ‘Hey, maybe I feel like shit and it’s a really rational way to feel.’ We deem sadness as an experience of madness, and maybe it is. But I wanted this to be, in a strange way, a kind of Happy Mondays tune, imagining myself just grabbing the maracas and dancing the shit out of it until I felt better.” “Spherical Time II” “I think the record needed a breath—just to allow that last section to happen. It’s a kind of look beneath the hood of the record—it’s accidental music. Because you’re on such a mission when you’re making records, you pass through many spaces that are actually of real value and really beautiful work.” “Suspended Animation” “I think it started from that line, ‘Now that I got what I was asking for, I don’t want it so much anymore.’ It’s the lived experience of having won, having lived some dreams, and having achieved certain things—and not getting the transformation that I expected. I think we kind of associate success with virtue now, don’t we? Certainly, success in relationships, success in jobs and careers. But success doesn’t necessarily mean virtue. Success just means, literally, a succession of fortuitous events. I realized that when I didn’t quite go through the kind of awakenings I expected, it’s just like, ‘Oh man, no, that didn’t fix anything. That was just a different time.’” “Runaway World” “I would say it was a buzz when ‘LMAO’ came to my lips. That song was the only one that was written in lockdown, as it was the only one that wasn’t finished before the world changed. I guess it was kind of a beautiful moment: The cosmic joke has happened and the end of the world we’d all been preparing for was happening. Those of us who are occupying an inner landscape and make work out of it and kind of have to deal with ourselves a lot in that space were like, ‘Oh yeah, man, I’m ready for this. I’ve got the survival pack. Let’s go.’ But I ended up back in the bedroom that I grew up in as a boy, back in the town I grew up in. We all had various tricks played on us, and that was the one played on me.”

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