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Hayden James heads to Whistler

Producer brings his DJ gig to Maxx Fish on Monday, Nov. 27

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Hayden James has a dilemma.

At a recent tour stop in New York City, the Sydney, Australia-based singer, songwriter, DJ and producer was sent a pair of special-edition sneakers by creative director Virgil Abloh, also known as Kanye West's right-hand man, from Abloh's recent collaboration with Nike.

"That was pretty cool. And I think they only made a few hundred, so I was like, 'oh my god,'" James said. "Do I wear them or do I frame them? I don't know."

Whatever he decides, one thing's for sure: the shoes will stay protected in James' suitcase when he rolls into Whistler's snowy, slushy streets next week.

James is set to play Maxx Fish on Monday, Nov. 27, with supporting music from Fidel Ca$hflow and Darley & The Rogue Killers. Doors open at 9 p.m., and tickets are available for pre-purchase for $10 at maxxfish.com.

It will be James' first time visiting Whistler, as well as his only Canadian stop on this month's North American headlining tour. "I'm so excited, because I snowboard a bit in Australia and we don't have incredible snow," he said, over the phone from San Francisco.

James also received some intel from a pair of fellow Aussie electronic artists more familiar with Whistler's bar scene: "I'm excited to see how many Australians are up there. Friends of mine played last year — Peking Duck — and they said it's just crazy," he said.

However many Aussies end up at James' set next week, most should be familiar with his material.

Since releasing his first single "Permission to Love" in 2013, new music has been slowly but steadily trickling onto radio airwaves and streaming devices around the world. He followed up his 2013 self-titled debut EP with the single "Something About You" in December 2014, which quickly went gold in his native Australia and became national broadcaster Triple-J's most played song back in summer 2015. James released his latest single "NUMB," featuring GRAACE on vocals, last month.

"I've just kind of been releasing a few songs — like one a year, type of thing," James said.

However, that pattern will soon be interrupted. James is currently working on a debut album, set to be released early- to mid-2018.

"It is probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I try to pull my hair out sometimes, (but) it's fun. I'm a perfectionist, so it takes me a long time to really figure out exactly what I want to say," he said. "Especially with the first album. For me, and for a lot of artists, it's probably the most important thing you'll do... I think I should just let go of it and be a bit more relaxed about it, and kind of enjoy the process a bit more, but I'm nearly done so I'm excited."

James' fans can expect his first full-length effort to continue along the lines of the soulful, downtempo house influences he's brought to the table with his existing material.

"All the stuff that I've released is kind of super simple and to the point, but also quite deep and funky as well," he said. "I think it's also very pop-related as well... I don't shy away from that kind of thing. It's just something you can sing straight away and listen to whether it be in the club or at home on a Sunday or just chilling out."

Those vibes caught the attention of Grammy-nominated electronic duo Odesza during a tour stop down under a few years ago.

"I was playing before them, we met and became friends pretty instantly," James said. That friendship turned into an invitation to join them on tour in 2014. "We did like 30 dates in 35 days. It was really hectic but incredible. I've done a bunch of tours with them over the past few years."

To that end, those in attendance for James' DJ show on Monday might just hear an Odesza remix during his set, as well as other familiar favourites — and, potentially, some new tunes.

"I play a lot of Australian music," he said, referencing Future Classic labelmates Flume, Touch Sensitive and Flight Facilities, "because I've only released a few songs, a lot of it is demos I'm working on or unreleased remixes. That's really special for me, to be able to share this stuff people haven't heard before. I can gauge reactions. It's kind of like a little insight into the album that's going to be coming out."

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