Hats off to James Bay with new album ahead of sold-out Sheffield show

James Bay plays The Leadmill, Sheffield, on Thursday, April 16.
James Bay plays The Leadmill, Sheffield, on Thursday, April 16.
0
Have your say

Singer-songwriter James Bay is sitting on top of the world at the moment.

The hat-wearing Hertfordshire-born 24-year-old has seen his second single – Hold Bake the River – go to number two and his first album, Chaos and the Calm, go to number one, as well as winning the Brits 2015 Critics’ Choice award.

And now he is embarking on a sell-out UK tour, including a show at The Leadmill on Thursday, April 16.

And James admits he is overwhelmed with the album’s reception, given it was his debut long-player.

“I was trying to make a record for the first time ever, which was both a daunting and exciting task,” he says.

“You realise a lot of your life has built to this moment where you step into the studio and get cracking.

“But being daunted is healthy too. It would be weird if I totally knew what I was doing. In a lot of respects I didn’t.

“Some of the songs were demos which I felt had already developed to the stage where I was happy with them.

“I knew how I wanted them to impact upon listeners when I was playing them live, but I didn’t have a huge idea about how I might record them.

“You just want to make something that sounds good, so, in a way, you’re never exactly sure how the recording process will go.”

Singer-songwriter James Bay.

Singer-songwriter James Bay.

Now it is finished, James is delighted

“You go through a lot of emotions, from thinking it will never ever be finished to being pleased that it sounds like a proper debut album,” he says.

“It has a lot of different flavours to it, incorporating all the different sounds that I love and want to use to portray myself as an artist.”

And that means stepping away from the ‘singer-songwriter’ label.

I’m always looking ahead and wanting to sell out huge venues around the world and sell loads of records.

James Bay

“There’s nothing wrong with being labelled a singer-songwriter,” he says, “but it’s often equated with being a guy on a stage under a spotlight in a hushed room.

“I love that kind of thing and it is part of my set, but there is a whole other part of me which likes to rock out.

“Then there are various levels in between those two extremes.

“It was important on the album to capture that entire spectrum.

“And I feel good now, listening to it. I feel I nailed that sense of being able to show what I can do.”

The album’s success comes on the back of Hold Back the River, which seems to be on every radio station at the moment, having already clocked up 13 million listens on Spotify and 18 million views on YouTube.

James Bay's debut album Chaos and the Calm is out today.

James Bay's debut album Chaos and the Calm is out today.

“I have no idea why a song like that can strike a chord,” says James. “And if I did, I’d be a multi-millionaire, multiple Grammy Award winner.

“And that’s the beauty and the magic of music.

“ I do think Hold Back The River feels very real and honest – and those are things that resonate with me when I really like a song.

“They were the characteristics of myself and my music I was trying to get across with that song.

The rest of it, the millions of listeners, is subjective and down to personal taste.

“I listen to a lot of music, and you try and draw from your influences. What I think is interesting about trying to create your own sound is that it comes from a process of trying to replicate the artists you love – and failing.

“In naturally failing to sound like your inspirations you end up creating something unique.”

However, while James is thrilled with the success so far, he is not sitting still.

“I’m one of those people who once I achieve something, I don’t really look back,” he says.

“I’m always looking ahead and wanting to sell out huge venues around the world and sell loads of records.”

And he is well on the way already.

James Bay.

James Bay.