In Conversation with…JAMES BAY

Singer/songwriter James Bay may only be young but he has already achieved so much in his short career so far. Currently touring the UK with Kodaline, promoting his début EP, The Dark of the Morning. He is soaring to greater heights with each new day, taking his songs about life, love and heartbreak around the UK and gaining more fans in doing so. His songs bury deep into your soul with a fiery passion and make a lasting impression on you, this is only the beginning for this artist and I, for one, can’t wait to hear more.

I caught up with the man himself, James Bay, before he took the stage for his set at Kodaline’s sold out gig at Manchester’s Ritz to chat about his upcoming new EP, touring America and everything else in between. Read on for more.

You’ve been recording in Nashville for your next EP. Firstly, that’s an amazing opportunity, how did that opportunity come about and how’s it been going so far?

It’s been going incredibly well, we just did the first chunk of songs. I made the first EP and I’ve put that out there and that’s going really well, I’ve been playing and touring and selling that EP. I suppose off the back of that there comes a time with all the writing that I’m doing that I needed to start recording some more.

So, I reached out to a couple of producers that I had in mind and then, in Nashville, Jacquire King, my producer, he came back and said that he’d love to work together, so that’s how it happened. We’re now knee deep and it’s going pretty good.

Your video for Move Together has received over 123,000 views on YouTube alone, that’s a pretty big number. How does it feel to know that many people have watched your video?

It’s a mad feeling, to be honest. I guess it’s a great example of the power of the internet and what it can do to get you heard, but it’s amazing. I’ve had a few videos go out recently and that one seems to have just shot off into space a little bit. But hey, there’s lots of other people on YouTube, who’ve got their own kind of bigger numbers and stuff, but for where I’m at, I’m pretty proud of it. It’s really cool.

Your songs are very personal, do you ever feel like your bearing too much of yourself? I think it’s a very vulnerable thing to lay your feelings out so bare like you do, but that’s part of what makes your music so beautiful and it means that the listener has a real connection to the song.

Well, I think that’s one of the reasons why I choose to dig deep and write what I write it’s because, it is for me about trying to make a connection with other people as well. As well as, in a way, making this re-connection with myself and the thing that I’m writing about at the time. I don’t question whether I’ve dug too deep or anything, the songs I’ve written, in some respects I kind of had to write them, they were things I was feeling and I had to get them out. So that’s why they are what they are.

Your début EP is one of the best cohesive pieces of music I’ve heard of late, it’s remarkable for a début. Is the Dark of the Morning EP a good indicator to what we can be expecting to hear from your next EP?

The Dark of the Morning is kind of the beginning of things. I made it very simple and very stripped back and acoustic because that’s what I’d been doing. I suppose moving into the new EP and my next release, I’ve put the band in and things are gonna get a little louder. I’ve been dying to get back behind my electric guitars, so I’ve plugged a few of those in and yeah, there is a little bit of what you can expect on the next EP in there, but I’m taking things a lot further as well. I’m getting louder and I’m switching things up a little bit as well.

You’ve just come off a month and a half long tour in the US with ZZ Ward and now you’re touring with Kodaline for the next month, both amazing opportunities in themselves. Have you been able to spend any time with the other bands and have they given you any tips or advice that you’ve taken to heart, that you’d like to share with us?

I have been able to spend time with these guys and it’s been an amazing time so far. I think just watching them, in terms of tips and advice, to be able to watch them onstage and see how they do it, considering where they’ve got to already. As tips and advice go, that’s a pretty heavy dose. Last night [in Gateshead] Kodaline even invited me and Hudson Taylor up onstage, which was amazing, and maybe we’ll see some more of that who knows, but as advice goes, as I say just spending time with them has included some great advice.

What was that experience like being able to go on your first tour in the US?

It was mad. It was this whole bizarre period of time, were on paper, it looked like it was going to feel like forever, and while I was doing it, there was never any thought of like “Oh, I would like to go home now”. It felt really good and really exciting the whole time and then once I was finished, it felt like it had gone like that [clicks fingers]. Quick as a flash.

America’s just a very different place, it was incredible, it was an amazing experience and I would love to do it again. I’m hoping to get back there next year, because it’s too good just to do once.

How has the tour with Kodaline been going so far? Any highlights or crowds that have stood out in particularly?

I got to say last night [16th November] when we were at The Sage in Gateshead that was particularly a good one. That was actually one of the smaller venues [on the tour] but it didn’t make any difference. It was an incredible night, and the crowd were just really responsive.

In a way, that being out there on my own, you know, I go out there and being the opening act you can get all different kind of responses and from the second song in, you could just hear a pin a drop. In terms of the acoustics for that room, it was an incredible atmosphere that that created. Last night was really cool.

What do you get up to before a gig? Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I think if I have a pre-show ritual, it’s just to chill. To be as regular and normal as I can, depending on where I am, depending on where we’re playing, if there are any of my friends locally then maybe they’ll come down and we’ll just hang out, yeah just take it easy really. Keep everything feeling natural, so I can just roll on to stage and do my thing.

You’re first headline gig in London has already sold out, that must be quite overwhelming and comforting to know that people are standing behind you and your music so much. Any plans for a UK tour in 2014?

Definitely plans for a UK tour. I’m just starting with, like with that show, just putting one or two shows on at a time and I’ll be doing that early into next year as well and just seeing who’s coming down. Eventually, branching outside of London and going further North and further South, so there will be definitely more of my own shows in 2014. But that first one, it sold out like 2 months before the show, it was an amazing feeling to know that people are enjoying my music. It’s very cool.

We’re big supporters of new music here at Bitter Sweet Symphonies. Having said that, are there any new artists that have caught your attention recently that you’d like to share with us?

Good question. There’s this band called Half Moon Run. I mean, for me they are kind of new, I’ve been listening for a few months. Half Moon Run are doing it for me right now, that album is just incredible, that was on repeat in America, we’ve been playing it on this tour and yeah, I’m a big fan of them. Totally worth checking out.


A special thanks to James Bay for this interview and for more info on him, check out the following links below.

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Charlotte Holroyd
Editor, Creator and Founder of Bitter Sweet Symphonies. A lover of music and cinema, who's constantly attending gigs and in search of a great experience.

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