Twinsleep (Ambient Project of John Hayes, Maxy Dutcher) Share Contemplative Self-Titled Debut Album

May 26, 2023 BY Jason Currell

Today, the like-minded ambient duo of John Hayes and Maxy Dutcher aka Twinsleep, unveil their delicate and contemplative self-titled album via Nettwerk. Despite Hayes residing in Denver and Dutcher in Montana, the two musicians formed a fast bond producing the record over remote sessions that spanned the past two years.

Throughout the nine song effort, the artist-producers weave together tapestries of opalescent drones and expansive soundscapes that feel as organic as they do otherworldly. They worked with a wide range of instruments, most notably an old harmonium and pump organ alongside synths and pianos to create a unique palette from which to evolve.

Thematically, the album touches on the meditative qualities found in nature and the cycles of life. Songs like “Old Snow,” and “A Taste of Spring,” call to mind almost visceral reactions. The use of tape loops and non-traditional recording techniques only serve to solidify the project’s overall mood.

“With this project, I’m proud of the fact that we embraced the feeling of being free—of making music with no master plan other than the enjoyment of making it,” says John Hayes. “It’s a calming, cathartic experience to make this kind of music.”

Listen to “Kin” on all digital retailers:


Twinsleep’s self-titled debut is a marvel of ambient music, with gorgeous compositions that achieve pure weightlessness while possessing a grounded sense of purpose. John Hayes and Maxy Dutcher’s second collaboration together is impressionistic in all the right ways, every swell and swoon conjuring naturalistic imagery and a distinct sense of mood. A commonly held misconception about ambient music is that it’s background music to put on when you don’t want to listen too closely—but zoom in and Twinsleep is teeming with detail amidst its opalescent drones and hovering melodies, an impressive achievement from an inspired creative pairing.

Twinsleep follows Hayes and Dutcher’s stunning 2020 release Borealis, and marks the latest evolution in their individual careers as well as creative partnership. Both musicians’ careers thus far have contained noticeable parallels—early beginnings in music that followed in rejecting formal teaching, artistic exploration brought upon by adversity, a gear-focused love of making electronic music—which made their initial collision all the more serendipitous. After discovering Dutcher’s work thanks to an editorial campaign, Hayes asked him for a remix of “Marin,” from his 2018 album By the Woods, and the pair quickly struck up a collaborative friendship. “As soon as I saw his page and heard his stuff, I was like, ‘Whoa, this dude’s awesome,’” Dutcher recalls. “Our relationship snowballed from there.”

Some of Twinsleep is made up of stems that Hayes and Dutcher had sent back and forth during early communiques, but work on this latest project largely began after Hayes started toying around with a recently acquired harmonium in the early months of 2020. “I wanted to see if we could do something with these little recordings, and that’s when we realized we could make an ambient project out of them,” he recalls on sending them to Dutcher, who was also developing new sounds with the help of a pump organ.

A record whose namesake is taken from a portmonteau of two towns at the midpoint of Hayes and Dutcher’s respective Denver and Missoula residences, Twinsleep fuses cavernous drones and gently flickering electronic production to evoke the glacial—but ever-changing—natural world. Dutcher recalls, “When I write, I like to pull up YouTube and take the vibe from a nature video or something similar. I was using visuals while taking from the dark, haunting vibe of the material that John sent over.” “When I’m writing ambient music, there’s less pressure to get things ‘right,’ which is why I love writing it,” Hayes continues. “You’re channeling what’s inside, on the outside.”

First single “Kin” is shivering and contemplative not unlike the work of legendary composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, with tones crafted from samples of Dutcher’s voice fed through a Yamaha VSS30 sampler. “I love the textures it makes, but the sampler doesn’t always work—but for that track, it just so happened to be working, so I had to use it,” he explains while talking about how the track came together. The immersive shimmer of “Talking Trees” conjures images of an endless-seeming forest, and “Slowed” recalls Boards of Canada’s own heavenly drift; meanwhile, the aptly named “Outlier” features a soft beat underneath its melodic structure, the only discernible rhythm found on Twinsleep.

“It had this interesting rhythm,” Dutcher says of the song, which almost didn’t appear on Twinsleep at all. “With some light stomps and claps, it became so different than the rest of the album—but we decided it had a space on the record, and it was fun to make, too.” And the pleasure of creative discovery serves as the connecting thread of these songs, which resemble the sound of two artists following their own arrow to deeply pleasurable results.


“A meditative and introspective ambient piece that feels like a journey through the body and spirit, into a world where you can’t possibly imagine spoken word having any meaning. It’s got haunting elements of instrumentation and atmosphere that reminds a bit of artists such as Nils Frahm.”
– We All Want Someone

“I think electronic music (and music in general) is in a beautiful state right now. The barriers to entry are so low now that just about anyone can express themselves through sound. Resources for learning are plentiful, and the internet makes collaborating easier than ever. It’s all a beautiful thing, and I’m happy to be a part of it!”

-Maxy Dutcher interviewed on Headphone Commute

“Trafficking in a hushed kind of neo-classical / ambient / electroacoustic sound based on shared improvisations and deeply felt drones, “Kin” is a gorgeous and reflective piece of music that slowly breathes and pulses with life.”
– Tome to the Weather Machine

Download Album Artwork Here