James is promising to light up the stage with the '˜best show he can'
Amid the chaos of a new album and accompanying UK headline tour, singer-songwriter James Bay is remaining calm.
Electric Light is the follow-up to his number one debut album Chaos and the Calm, featuring smash-hit singles Let It Go and Hold Back the River.
And while the release day of Electric Light is exciting, the 27-year-old enjoys the days and weeks afterward just as much, if not more.
“Release day is a big day, it’s exciting, the opening of the gates,” he says.
“However, a week from then and a week after that, its gets more exciting, because the fans have got to live with the music, which is still the most important thing.
“If I had to describe my first album visually it would probably be a flame, while this new album is about a real sonic and artistic evolution for me.
“The feeling of a 100 watt bulb expanding and brightening is what I envisioned.
“Electric Light came to my mind and I knew it was perfect.”
Electric Light debuted at number two – held off the top spot by The Greatest Showman soundtrack – but James says he has not felt under any extra pressure to emulate the success of his double-Platinum selling debut and top-20 US hit.
“Nobody knew who I was before that album, so it was a grower,” he says – growth helped by the success of radio favourite Hold Back the River, which earned James a 2016 Grammy nomination for best rock song and a Brit nomination for best single.
“Second time around, the big difference is I have all these fans now, so this is one for them now.
“However, I still hope it’s a different version of a grower – I want to see it grow.
“I’m not aiming any lower than Chaos and the Calm – I don’t see the point of that,I am going for the same things.
“Of course, it’s still pressure and I love that, but I’m excited to see how it all goes.
“I was more concerned for the tour – getting the live set is exciting.
“And the pressure, the anxiety, the excitement, the nerves that come with a new album is just like the moment you walk on stage.”
Wild Love, the first single off the new album, was a top-40 hit, but it was James’ new look which created even more of a buzz as he ditched the trademark fedora and long hair which had made him instantly recognisable.
However, James – winner of the 2015 critics’ choice Brit award and 2016 Brit award for best male solo artist – is keen to stress that it is still the same young man from Hertfordshire making the music and performing the songs on stage, albeit on bigger stages, in front of bigger crowds and backed by a band.
“There’s a lot of building me up, but I do it the same way I have always done it,” he says, “which is make records with as much integrity as I can, as I have always done.”
And he is promising both old favourites and new songs when he brings his Electric Light tour to a sold-out O2 Academy in Sheffield tomorrow.
“I make it about me and the audience and try to put on a show in every sense of the word,” he says.
“It’s a typical live experience, a real performance on stage – I give the best show I can.”
The biggest change to his shows now from 2014, before Chaos and the Calm, is the size of the audience.
“I have to get used to it, or it will conquer me,” he says.
“The thing with all form of performing is to feel confident and to go with the flow of the show.
“Whatever the capacity, you have got to go and bring it.”
James plays Sheffield’s O2 Academy on Friday, June 1, with support from Brighton singer-songwriter Lily Moore.
For any remaining tickets, contact the venue.
Electric Light is out now.