Los Angeles gets treated tonight to Hayden Thorpe in support of his debut album Diviner, his first solo venture since the recent split of British indie band Wild Beasts last year. Sharing a one-night meditative foray at Hollywood Forever Cemetery’s Masonic Lodge, the show serves as a sort of homecoming.
“There’s an energy there,” Thorpe divulged earlier this week of his time in LA, where he wrote the album last year. “If it’s palpable to you, then you become quite dependent upon it.”
Returning to himself after ten years with Wild Beasts, Thorpe finds himself as a herald anchored to the piano. “When it’s just you and the piano… all those forces, all that alchemy has to happen within, so it becomes a real practice in self-combustion.”
Diviner serves as the product of such a saturated time of solitude for the artist. A ten-track journey through self-discovery and healing that resonates from the first tinkering of the keys on the opening track of the same name to the evanescent echoes of his closing words on “Impossible Object.” Thorpe seems a masochist for the art, throwing himself into the madness of the song-making process alone. Now sharing that with audiences, taking that energy in his live performances is no different.
“I really practice to not distinguish as somehow being separate from real life… to actually live amongst the chaos and to bring the mess of yourself on the stage, to bring all the vulnerability and humanity required to honor that stage.”
Along with Thorpe’s solo set at the piano, he presents an interesting, yet unsurprising lagniappe at The Masonic Lodge: a sound bath. And what better place than the land of desert retreats and Joshua Tree trips to clear the mind, to “try and bring in a sensibility, to allow a kind of nourishment and healing.” Thorpe asserts, smiling through his words, “LA is one of the best places to try that.” And though his trip is brief, he continues, “It’s one of those visits that has every intention of returning before long.”
Following the sound bath, it’s just Thorpe, the piano, and all the instinct that relationship has to offer. He’s candid about the sacrifice from both presences, especially in the history intrinsic to an instrument that carries more than just a range of sounds:
“I think there’s something spiritually right about an old honky tonk beat-up piano… it just sits in the corner and somehow acts as the emotional kidney for that room for years and years and whatever kind of body fluids and sorrows and joys have been processed through it resonate within it.”
And what comes of that, he says, is a minor miracle of sorts. “All these tensions and emotionality are right on the surface, and if you hit the right notes in the right order… they coalesce to create something that resembles a song.”
A song perhaps like “Love Crimes,” with the urgency of pedal tone in the bass and dirge in the upper registers repeating and transforming under his breathy remarks, “I’m not giving up on fear / I’m giving up on us.”
Thorpe sees himself as an envoi, the melody being the contribution that comes to him, calling it a game of patience and comparing the inspirations it to the weather: “You can never count on it. You just have to be ready to bask in it when the clouds part.”
And that manifests further in the physical attributions he hopes to achieve with leaning into the world of meditation, sound healing, and yoga. He’s previously curated live music to the practice, seeing the connection of the audial and corporeal as a conversion of energy. In a time of distraction, that inward look and movement is crucial:
“I do think ritual in society in some respects is being lost, and [yoga] really serves to instill that kind of ancient wisdom. That body wisdom… Our consciousnesses are so hijacked by technology and cultural ways of being, it becomes hard to take ownership of your own thoughts.”
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Diviner was written at home between the living room and the kitchen, between too much coffee and too little sunshine, between thin walls and snoring neighbours, during days that felt like vast deserts and in hours that evaporated as if cast in spell. Maybe songs shaped in such spaces need not prepare themselves for the outside world. But now as I ready them for these more public rooms, it goes without saying I’m looking forward to the company and yet still too little sunshine. DIVINER TOUR ON SALE NOW Link in bio Photography by @_willreid_
Cut to his newest release, the saxophone-laden “Full Beam,” which resounds this kind of “unmistakable force” that he attests to in his songwriting process. “That kind of sacred symmetry, that these sensibilities can be transplanted from one person to the next through songs.”
From his rapport with the piano during the album’s inception to the conclusion of sharing it with audiences, his motivations remain as a carrier between the two realms. A duty he upholds with utmost integrity and humility.
“I just see it as an offering, a contribution… And if any of my songs have ever served someone in a way they might need in that moment. That’s a thousand victories. There is no material value for that.”
See Hayden Thorpe tonight at the Masonic Lodge, with the sound bath at 8:30 and his live set beginning at 9.
Tickets available at https://hollywoodforever.ticketfly.com/e/hayden-thorpe-69150851057/