By: Filip Sandström Beijer
Photos: Daniel Iglesias
Hayden Payne is the New Yorker who fell in love with Berlin and decided to stay. In Playful he talks about his background as a post punk band member, his favorite places to tour and the fact that when he’s not busy keeping you dancing, he enjoys a good read, Naruto, and the museum.
It has been eleven years since Hayden Payne visited Berlin for the first time. Then as a music exchange student from New York. Today he's one of the record label Ostgut's most promising acts and he's known for his Berghain gigs. But the journey did not begin with
electronic music or techno.
“When I came to Berlin for the first time, I played post-punk, new wave, and minimal synth in different bands. Berlin has a very large stage for that type of music, and I had already gotten in touch with people in the community via the internet. But I always knew I wanted to go to Europe,” Hayden tells us.
In 2011 he came to Berlin with his best friend who he played with in the band Dream Affair. The friends started DJing at clubs as soon as they landed and were booked on a tour around Europe.
“I had a friend who worked as a booker, and he took us on tour. It made us more involved in the music scene here. I could see that, unlike in the states, there was big support for the kind of music that I liked. There was no way to survive as a musician just starting out, solely, in
But even though his journey began as a band member with influences from EBM and NDW legends as DAF and the 80’s music scene, it's the techno innovator and solo artist Phase Fatale we know for his unique soundscape and dystopian set. Like many others, he got
mesmerized by the techno temple.
“When I was touring, my booker at the time took me to Berghain for the first time. In New York there are techno parties, but not in that way. It’s more industrial and EBM stuff over there. This atmosphere that I experienced was almost the same as in New York at the Wierd Records parties, where I played and worked but times a thousand.” Hayden says and continues;
“Then I thought that this feels like something cutting edge compared to playing in goth post punk bands, which I also love, but is very romantic and nostalgic."
He has always been working solo on a personal level but after the revelation in Berghain, he decided to bring the previous influences to create something new. I wanted to put more meaning into it, with the artwork, the concept, the song titles, and delivery.
“I was trying to do something new, and it turned out to be the right time and right place for this.”
Anyone who listens to Phase Fatale can surely agree that it's not the happy, pop soundscape that dominates. Rather the opposite.
“Music that is very poppy doesn’t appeal to me, because of its fake happiness.
So, I could listen to anything from black metal to shoegaze. Shoegaze, for me, feels like a good combination of what I’m trying to do with techno. They’re using layers of extreme noise and harshness that can go back from industrial music and more experimental stuff, but within a framework that is pop essentially.” Hayden explains.
But even though the style of music has changed for him, he constantly keeps one foot in each world, both as an inspiration and in his spare time.
“I still love going to concerts at SO36 for example. I was there watching She Past Away for example. Concerts are something I’ve been missing a bit. But sometimes I don’t have the time between touring and then we have the obvious reason that there haven't been so
many concerts as well.”
Speaking of touring, it’s something that is a big part of his career and also something he enjoys if it’s not too hectic. Outside of Berlin, there are several clubs and cities that have inspired him and to which he's always happy to return.
“I really love Tbilisi in Georgia and I’ve been going there for 6 years now as a resident DJ at Khidi. It feels like a second home for me. The vibe of the city and the people involved in the club really became family. I also had a residency with my label BITE in Vilnius, Lithuania. Spain is also really good with its long history of techno, and I always love going to Madrid and Barcelona. And then we have Kyiv and ∄. But I don’t know how to talk about that right now. I have my family from there, my great grandparents, so there's some generational attachment to the city.”
When he's not out touring and filling the dance floors around the world, he spends his time in Friedrichshain, which has become his base since he moved to Berlin. He admits that he often attends parties and watches friends, and colleagues play, but there’s also
another side of Hayden Payne that shines through.
“I like Naruto and reading books too. And I’ve always liked going to museums. There are so many people who've been living here for a long time and then they never made it
to visit a museum, I mean that is something you should definitely do.”
It’s the creative scene and the vibe in the city that makes him want to stay in Berlin.
“There’s a lot of people here doing many kinds of creative things, in different fields and we see all these cross-collaborations. It’s mixed together, everybody goes to different parties and that’s how you create new sounds and new directions. When everyone is in their own little bubble, nothing can really evolve. I love the fact that there are so many creative people in Berlin, which creates unique opportunities. Everything from photographers and videographers to fashion designers that you can reach out to and collaborate with. That also influences the music scene.”
During the summer Hayden will be busy touring and in the latter part of the year we can expect new music.
“I will continue working on more solo music. The biggest thing is my ongoing collaboration with Pablo Bozzi: Soft Crash. It’s combining different things from italo to electro, dark wave, techno, industrial and drum n bass. More than that I’m working on a few remixes that are coming. I also have this project called Vague Méchanique which started as a collaborative track for the Ostgut Ton compilation last year. And focusing on my label BITE that has releases from Pablo Bozzi, Halv Drøm, and New Frames out soon.”