Two BRIT awards, an Ivor Novello, a Q gong and many other prestigious accolades make James Bay one of BIMM’s most successful graduates. But the biggest revelation has not been his return following the success of for his number one debut album Chaos and the Calm; it’s that he’s back without the hat!
That’s right – the Brighton graduate is due to return with a new album, which he has teased with his comeback single, Wild Love. Now the troubadour has even fronted his new look on the cover of industry bible, Music Week, where he caught up with writer James Hanley. Channeling a cross between Alex Turner and Josh Homme, the slick songwriter told MW that the old James ‘was intentional to hopefully create a signature look’.
He explained: “When a signature look starts to work, and you’re known for something more than just your music, the marketing people and labels love it,” suggests Bay. “So when I was like, ‘Nah, it’s going,’ those guys were like, ‘What?’ I didn’t give them much warning, but that says a lot about the great relationship I have with my label – they will embrace what I want to do. It’s about evolution, it’s about starting again – same guy, new version.”
James, who studied for a BA (Hons) Degree in Professional Musicianship, has so far been tight-lipped about his sophomore release. He did, however, drop a few hints on the NME Awards red carpet that the record would feature influences from ‘Sesame Street’, and that his inspiration for album number two has ranged from LCD Soundsystem right through to Lorde, David Bowie and Frank Ocean.
He told NME: “Those influences go further into the music than you can necessarily hear in this one song. I am excited to say that because as you get deeper into the album, you’ll be able to hear much more of those influences and others.”
Speaking about the response to Wild Love, James added: “I found out that it got a million streams in the first 24 hours. It passed two million, and tonight it hit three million. It’s only been out for a few days. It’s very exciting.”
Sharing his memories of James, BIMM Brighton’s College Principal, Martin Wright, said how his talent was clear from day one. He told The Argus: “With any diverse cohort of students there are always going to be those who are focused and those who ask the right questions, the ones who are thinking ‘what is the golden nugget you can give me as a tutor. That was very evident with James.”
James, who has previously played Glastonbury’s iconic Pyramid Stage, is due to return on tour this March (2018), where he will open with an appearance at Brixton Electric on Thursday 15 March, before embarking on a North America and Canada tour.
We can’t wait to hear what’s in store on James’s second album. Interested in following in James’s footsteps studying at BIMM? Find out more here.