#14 James Bay
- First, can you tell us about you ? Where do you come from and since when do you play music ?
My name is James Bay. I come from a small town called Hitchin, it's about an hour north of London, in England. I started playing the guitar when I was about 11 years old. Since starting to play I quickly became obsessed with a lot of rock & roll and singer-songwriter music from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Like The Band and The Rolling Stones, as well as song writers and guitar bands of the present day, such as Adele, Ray Lamontagne and Kings Of Leon.
- I had the chance to listen to some of your demos such as ‘Collide’ or the sublime ‘If You Ever Want To Be In Love’ and I was pleasantly surprised with the results and quality (given that they are just demos). How and how long have you taken to write and record these demos ?
I wrote those two songs, and the other song on there (Let It Go) over the course of about 5 months. Then I went into a small studio in London to demo them. Because I wasn't being particular about the overall sound, I recorded them all in one day. It was about a week later that I decided they were good enough to put online - purely so that I could show my fans some new music.
- While listening to your two first EP, ‘The Dark of the Morning’ and ‘Let It Go’, what really call to my mind was the lyrics. It feels like you have something to share. Was it by accident or by design, some experiences you lived ?
Most of my songs are about personal experiences I've had. The songs on those two EPs are really quite personal. Some, including Let It Go and Move Together were particularly honest, revealing songs about things I was going through in relationships at the time. But it seems, when I write about that stuff - my deepest, strongest feelings - it makes for a better song, because it's real.
- You are often compared to great singers such as Jeff Buckley, John Mayer, Ray Lamontagne (personally you more remind me of Paolo Nutini or James Morrison), what do you think of these comparisons?
It's great to be held to the same merit as artists like that; artists I admire and have grown up listening to and being inspired by.
- You were the opening act for the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park last summer, tell us about that experience. How did you feel going up on stage just before this legendary band ?
It was an amazing and enormous feeling. It's one thing to get to see one of my favourite bands of all time, but it's another thing entirely to be printed on the same gig poster as them, as one of the opening acts. It was a huge honour!
- What is your favorite song of the year so far ?
There will always be more than one. At the moment I love "Left Hand Free" by Alt-J.
- What are your biggest influences ? What albums can we find on your shelf ?
There are so many. The Rolling Stones' Exile On Main Street. Kings Of Leon's Only By The Night. Joni Mitchell's Blue. Ray Lamontagne's Trouble. The list goes on and on and on.
- Have you been surprised by the success of your music ?
I started out writing music for myself. Not for anyone else, because nobody else knew I even existed. So now, to see the music that I started out writing for myself in my bedroom/my flat being listened to by people all over the world and being played on the radio does come as a bit of a surprise. Yes, I aimed to reach these kind of goals. But the whole experience is still so other worldly, so yes I'm often surprised. It's an amazing experience!
- You were touring in the USA last fall, was it a good experience ?
One of the best experiences of my life, so far.
- Your first gig in the USA was the Mercury Lounge in New York City. How did you live it ? What did you think about it if you compare with clubs in England ?
I didn't know who was watching, but for the 80 or so people in the room that did, I just wanted to play the best set I possibly could. It's New York City! It felt amazing and it was hopefully the start of a long love affair with the greatest city in the world.
- What is your best memory onstage ?
On my birthday, in 2013, I was the opening act for a show at the Fillmore West in San Francisco (for me - one of the most important venues in America!) I told the (sold out) crowd, before my last song, that it was my birthday and the whole room burst out singing happy birthday to me. I'll never forget that.
- Do you have any regrets, something you wish you had done differently ?
- Was there a precise moment when you took your guitare and a notebook and you started to write and sing or did it come little by little ?
I don't know. Little by little.
- You come from Hitchin (a small city in the North of London). Was it difficult to evolve in this city far from Majors and Labels ?
A little bit. But if you want it bad enough you'll make it work for yourself in a small town, and do what you have to do to get out into the bigger cities - which is what I did, first going to Brighton, then to London.
- Do you have any project for the future ? A debut album ?
There is a debut album on the way. It's coming in 2015..!
- Let's talk about Coldplay now. Have you ever been to one of their shows ? Can you tell us what is your favorite Coldplay song ?
I have never been to one of there shows. I really wanted to see them at the Royal Albert Hall but it basically sold out in seconds. I don't have a favourite Coldplay song, there are too many great ones. But I think Parachutes is my favourite album of there's.
- Have you heard about ColdplayCorner before ?
No, not before you got in touch.
- What do you think about our «Push Zone» project whose you are the subject with this interview ?
I think it's great, and I really appreciate anyone giving new music a platform - and who better to show music to than fans of Coldplay!
- Finally, thank you so much for having taken the time to talk to us and tell us your story. I was very pleased to ask you these few questions. I wish you a lot of success and a long and great career. We are glad to count you in our numerous interviews to introduce new bands to the french speaking Coldplay fans.
Thank you, guys! Keep up the good work!