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Darren Hayman was the driving force behind the beloved but underheard Hefner; since that group's de facto dissolution in the early 2000s, he has remained active with numerous bands and solo projects. A prolific songwriter with a folksy, unpolished singing voice, a penchant for lo-fi recording, and a knack for touching character sketches, witty relationship dissections, and topical references to things like pop musicians and quaint British cultural institutions, his music (with Hefner specifically) has been fittingly referred to as "urban folk," though it often incorporates elements of styles as disparate as indie rock, synth pop, and bluegrass. Born and raised in the Essex town of Brentwood, Hayman founded Hefner in the early '90s after meeting future drummer Ant Harding at art college, but it remained essentially a solo project until 1996, when the band was signed to Too Pure with a solidified trio lineup. Following the fourth Hefner album, 2001's Dead Media, the beginning of an indefinite but seemingly permanent hiatus, Hayman and bassist John Morrison continued that record's fascination with vintage synthesizers and drum machines (and revisited several songs initially intended for Hefner) in the short-lived outfit the French. 2005 saw the self-titled EP release of another electronically-minded duo project, the mostly instrumental Stereo Morphonium, with Mutronium's Joel Neumatic. Starting around this time, Hayman initiated a series of 7" EPs recorded at various vacation spots around the U.K., released in limited editions on the Static Caravan label. After spending much of 2004 in a drawn out contractual dispute with Too Pure that effectively prevented Hayman from releasing new music, but eventually resulted in his acquiring the rights to the entire Hefner discography, the latter half of the 2000s saw a veritable flood of releases on his newly established Hefnet/Belka imprint, including deluxe Hefner album reissues, a disc of BBC sessions recorded with superfan John Peel, and the collected Great British Holiday EPs. Meanwhile, he began releasing albums under his own name: 2006's Table for One, 2007's Darren Hayman & the Secondary Modern -- introducing a backing group whose lineup has remained deliberately in flux, including members of the Wave Pictures, Fanfarlo, and Smile Down Upon Us, among others -- and the 2009 "folk opera" Pram Town, a narrative song cycle set in a post-war planned community. Hayman, who at any given time purports to be several completed albums ahead of what he's actually released, also plays in the loose London bluegrass group Hayman, Watkins, Trout & Lee, who issued a self-titled album 2008.
Darren Russell Hayman (born 30 November 1970, Brentwood, Essex) is an English singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is best known as the lead singer and guitarist in Hefner. Since Hefner disbanded in 2002, Hayman has embarked on a solo career and has released six albums, three of which were with his band Darren Hayman & the Secondary Modern.
Hayman first made a name for himself as the lead singer and main songwriter in UK indie rock band Hefner, who were big favourites of the late John Peel. The band split in 2002, their discography numbering four studio albums as well as a number of compilations and a live album.
Hayman then released one album with The French and an EP with The Stereo Morphonium. Both were electronic projects.
The debut Darren Hayman solo album Table for One was released in early 2006. The following year Hayman released Darren Hayman & the Secondary Modern, his second solo album and his first album with a backing band. The band included singer-songwriter John Howard and Pete Astor, founder of The Loft and The Weather Prophets.
In 2009, Hayman released the first part of his "Essex Trilogy", Pram Town. The second installment came in the shape of Essex Arms in 2010, Hayman's first release on Fortuna Pop!.
During January 2011, Hayman undertook January Songs, a project to write, record and release a song for every day of the month, collaborating with other musicians.
Hayman has also released a companion album to Essex Arms, entitled The Green and the Grey, comprising B-sides and unused tracks from the album sessions. This was followed by piano-driven album "The Ship's Piano" and the 10" EP "Christmas In Haworth". He was also a member of the Vostok 5 collective, a group of musicians creating a 9-track record and an art exhibition about people and animals in space.
The third and final part of Hayman's "Essex trilogy", The Violence, was published on 5 November 2012. It is a concept album based on Matthew Hopkins's witch trials and the English Civil War.
As of 2012, Hayman was performing solo, with his ever-changing backing group the Long Parliament (formerly the Secondary Modern), or occasionally as part of an indie bluegrass supergroup, Hayman, Watkins, Trout & Lee.