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James Bay Leaps For a Triumphant Return to the Top of the Charts

James Bay

Leaps For a Triumphant Return to the Top of the Charts

by Brenna Hallman

Of course, there's no big introduction needed for singer/songwriter James Bay. Anyone with a radio or a phone has heard Bay's sultry voice at one time or another, whether it was "Let It Go," which now has almost one billion streams on Spotify, or his 2018 hit song "Us," which now has about a quarter million streams.

Following the smash success of this summer’s release of his new album Leap, multi-platinum artist Bay took the time to get on a zoom call with the press.

The media was itching to hear Bay's responses to our questions, and he certainly exceeded our expectations. James shared inspiring and interesting anecdotes of his life, from memorable nights touring with Ed Sheeran to his love for indulging in two breakfasts in a day. He also broke down the journey of creating the new album and his personal growth throughout the last few years.

As fans may know, Bay took a bit of a music hiatus since his last album Electric Light in 2018. This gave him a lot of time to grow and evolve his style and lyrical abilities. There's no question that Bay has a really unique and beautiful way with words. It really comes into question how someone so successful and talented can continue to challenge themselves into becoming an even better artist.

Bay commented on how his writing style has grown and become more direct. His lyrics have always been very poetic, but James decided to write in a more conversational style this time around. He compared this style to the lyrics of Paul Simon, Bill Withers and Carole King, saying that these artists deliver words so well and they're never overly busy.

Bay continued on by saying, "There's something freeing about not having to chase down the best analogy or metaphor, as much as I love those."

Bay was asked about his authenticity in his lyrics, something for which his music is very well known. Personally, I have cried to James Bay love songs more than I would like to admit.

He shared his knowledge and highlighted the importance of being unfiltered in song lyrics. "For me, to be direct in what I am trying to say as a lyricist is important,” Bay explained. “But I have to acknowledge delivery, not just what is said but how it's said is so paramount in songwriting for me."

Bay took the time to describe the essence of his album Leap. He told listeners that his music would smell like sandalwood, since everyone loves it, and the smell is inviting. Bay said he wants the music to "lift your chin." He decided that instead of only writing music when he is feeling down, he took a step away from that habit this time around.

"I had been dealing with some darkness and emotional times,” he said. “As I started to write to remedy those difficulties, I was doing my typical thing and I started writing down into sadness to try to get through it... And I thought, no. I decided to make a stand."

Bay really highlighted this growth he has experienced, as we know him mostly for sad songs, he has written to express those harder times. He also described the album as the golden morning light, soft and glowing.

James has collaborated with several successful musicians over the years, like Julia Michaels, Marshmello and Alesso. He describes collaborating on songs as "the spice of life."

Solo work for James is a much slower process, but it helps him to get out his inner thoughts. "Sometimes I just need me and an instrument to work through some stuff," he told the press.

Bay finds that collaboration shakes up the process and incorporates so many different creative minds. He talked about his experiences collaborating with renowned writer/producer Finneas. Bay decided to follow Finneas' lead during their collaboration process and loved the outcome. Much of the creation of this album was actually through zoom due to the pandemic, which Bay says he will never forget.

While every song in the album has its own magic, James' favorite track is "Endless Summer Nights." This was one of the first songs written for the album, Bay told us, and he likes it because it is different from his usual theme of relationships and love. Bay lit up as he spoke about the inspiration behind the piece, those nights that you just never want to end. Bay spoke about his love for music festivals and the euphoria and magic you feel during those long nights. He describes the song as "juvenile and brilliant with no limits."

My personal favorite anecdote of this interview was an experience Bay shared during his time touring with Ed Sheeran. They had finished their tour in Iceland, where it was very cold at the time. The bands went back to Sheeran's beautiful house to celebrate the end of their tour.

"I was standing in the kitchen and then Ed turned up in his underwear and he said, 'We're getting in the lake,'" Bay recalled. The pair along with friends stripped down and jumped into the freezing cold lake, followed by a dip in the hot tub. The last thing you’d expect during this interview was to hear about James Bay and Ed Sheeran half-skinny dipping in below freezing water.

When I had my chance to speak to James, and I couldn't help but ask about his experience with parenthood. James recently became a father to his daughter Ada Violet in October of 2021. With the heartfelt feeling of James Bay music we know and love, I was hoping he would soon be giving fans a sweet lullaby about his daughter.

Bay totally rejected my corny idea to write a tribute to Ada. He hopes to take this new parenthood perspective of life and watch it come through in his music as time goes on.

"It's affecting what I do and I'm trying not to directly focus on that when I write,” Bay explained. “I am trying to let it be very organic and let it affect in all the ways that it just will."

The zoom chat room was not happy with his response, begging for a lullaby album. It was even recommended for him to write his own "Isn't She Lovely."

Bay exclaimed, "Now you've referenced a big Stevie Wonder song and I'm inspired!" All I'm saying is I will be taking credit for his future song about Ada if it ever happens.

If you are wondering when and where to listen to Bay's new album, he advised the media to listen to the album while on the go. Whether it is going for a walk, traveling via train, or listening windows-down in the car, being on the go is a wonderful place to digest music.

"That's a moment that we all spend time thinking about other stuff in our lives, and music pairs with life circumstances whatever they are."

I think we can all agree that blasting music in the car is crucial to vibing out on your favorite albums.

While it was a struggle for Bay to find his new sound, the final destination of Leap is truly a work of art. Every album Bay has released has a different sound, which is refreshing for listeners. This album returned to his stripped-down acoustic sound and vulnerable lyrics. Bay illustrates Leap as a series of "anthems of hope." His overall message is to "leap and not worry if there's a net that's going to catch you."

Copyright ©2022 All rights reserved. Posted: August 11, 2022.

Photo ©2022. Courtesy of Universal Music Group. All rights reserved.

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