On July 29th, Australian singer-songwriter/producer Hayden Calnin is premiering his dreaming and evocative ballad “Mountain Steeps” here at American Songwriter, in advance of its release on July 31st. The song is off his EP, Soon Forever, which will come out on September 4th (on the Nettwerk label).
Calnin recorded “Mountain Steeps” in his home studio on the Mornington Peninsula, which is about two hours south of Melbourne. Calnin says the song came about when “I was having a lot of dreams that felt quite real (until I woke up) and that really played a huge role in how I engineered the song. I wanted it to feel otherworldly, which is why I included a lot of digitally processed backing vocals and a vocoder-esque treatment laying underneath it all. When all those layers sat under the main vocal, it really played a huge part in directing where the song was going to go from that point.
“Isolation from your usual environment can sometimes make your life feel like you are living in a dream,” Calnin continues, though he adds that his regular physical fitness routine has helped him with becoming more self-reflective, as well as improving his songwriting. In addition to being an avid skinboarder, “I take myself on a walk or run almost every day. It’s my time to reflect on all the things happening in my life and the world over. “Mountain Steeps” captures a couple of those thoughts I often find myself coming back to on those outings. Lots of self-reflection.”
Absorbing the natural beauty around him, Calnin crafted the soundscape on Soon Forever from upright and grand piano as well as off-kilter synths and immersive textures in order to “make it feel more pretty than sad.”
Calnin is a popular producer who has worked with Didirri, Harrison Storm, Riley Pearce, Woodlock, NYCK, and others. He is also in the band Ok Moon with Dustin Tebbutt, LANKS and Xavier Dun, and as a performer, he has shared the stage with Matt Corby, Tom Odell and The Antlers, to name a few. He has previously released several EPs, most recently 2019’s A Life You Would Choose. By 2020, his songs have tallied more than 30 million streams.