Hart's making waves

SIMON COLLINS
Darren Hart. Picture: Supplied

Young Melbourne musician Darren Hart had this awesome dream recently. He was jamming onstage with Prince at the legend's Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis.

This was no dream but sweet reality after His Purpleness personally invited Hart, 23, to the States to jam and hang out at his $10 million music complex in late June.

"I'd never seen Prince live," Hart says from Melbourne of the pinch- yourself moment. "The first time I saw him play live was when I was standing in front of him."

The Chennai-born guitar gun, whose family came to Australia when he was a toddler, initially thought he was being scammed when an email from Prince's manager lobbed in his inbox.

A phone call from the great man himself soon followed.

"I was super nervous but he was cool, completely down to earth," Hart says. "He told me he had a bunch of opportunities happening over at Paisley Park and some cool stuff he'd rather show me in person than tell me over the phone."

Prince had discovered Hart's silky smooth disco-funk track Lovers in Bloom on YouTube, along with a scorching live cover of Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze with the Melburnian playing every instrument.

"He invited me over," he says. "First of all he said 'Are you available to come out?' I laughed and kind of said, 'For you, Prince, I'll do anything'."

Hart flew to Minneapolis where he spent a week hanging out with Prince, jamming with his backing band and new all-girl group 3rdeyegirl.

The starstruck muso also played Prince and entourage his album, Daydreamer, on which he played every instrument and self-produced under the moniker Harts.

"He gave me a lot of advice about playing live and also a lot of advice about making albums," Hart says. "He was giving me advice on everything.

"He's a really good teacher. He's really smart in terms of business and music. He knows what he's talking about. A lot of the time I was just taking in what he was talking about."

Like Prince, Hart admits to being a control freak. Before recording Daydreamer, he wriggled out of a record deal with Island Records. "It wasn't working for either party so we split," he says.

Hart recorded every part of his debut album in his bedroom in the outer suburbs of Melbourne between last October and February this year.

"I just like the control of doing everything myself. It's a little hard for me to articulate what I want sometimes."

Daydreamer is a stunning debut carrying obvious hallmarks of Prince, Hendrix, the Isley Brothers, Nile Rodgers and Earth Wind and Fire.

"My most recent influence is probably Gorillaz," Hart adds. "I don't want to come across as only digging old music. It's true, that's what I'm into but sometimes in an interview it comes out like I'm not really into new music. It looks bad."

The wunderkind, a talented athlete who only started playing drums at age 15 before moving on to guitar, has been back to the States since visiting Prince.

Atlantic Records flew Hart to New York in late July to showcase his funk and soul meets post-disco sound.

"I got a really good vibe from Atlantic," he says. "They seem like a label that would really do justice to my music. But nothing is set in stone at the moment."

Daydreamer is out now.