Monday, September 23, 2013

{INTERVIEW} james bay

We're so excited to share our interview with British singer-songwriter James Bay, whose incredible voice will having you press repeat on your iPod routinely (trust us on this one). Unsurprisingly, James is just as enchanting to talk to as he is to listen to. Read ahead as we chat with James about The Rolling Stones, his upcoming US tour, and singing in shower. 

Listen while you read:

Tell us about yourself! Where are you from, and how long have you been making music?
I’m from a very, very small part of the world called Hitchin. It’s a little town just north of London where not very much happens at all. It’s also where -- to escape the boredom and to feed my curiosity -- I learnt my first three chords and started making music. That was about ten years ago now, and I haven’t stopped since.

photo by alex shamiri
You've been compared to some iconic singer-songwriters. Who do you consider to be your biggest musical influences?
I reckon even your biggest influences change over time. But, I have to say, Carole King, Bill Withers, and Fleetwood Mac have helped shape my music in a pretty big way.

Click ahead to read about James' dream collaboration and more!
You opened up for The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park this summer. First off, well done (and holy shit!). Second, what was that experience like? 
The experience was pretty surreal. To see my name on the poster underneath The Stones’ and to have had that brief association is something I never imagined would actually happen. I’m such a huge fan, so to say I was even a tiny part of such a big anniversary gig for them is amazing. Plus, it was the first (and quite possibly the last) time I’ll ever see them live. Good thing they absolutely nailed it.

If you could collaborate with one person (dead or alive) who would it be?
James Baldwin, the author. I’d just like to sit and pick his brains for a while. That would be our collaboration, an endless conversation about life and everything else. PS, everybody should check him out, particularly his book Another Country

What is your songwriting process like?
It’s like a slow and painful death. Except at the end I don’t die, I get a song -- and if I’m really lucky I get a good one.

What is one song we need to add to our iPods right this second?
"Georgia," by Emily King. I discovered this song about two hours before I read this question. It’s the most unknown and brilliant song I can think of; therefore, it’s the least likely to be on your iPod, but when it arrives it will never leave.

What’s your favorite song to sing in the shower?
Soul is a music invented for the shower. I like to stretch my pipes on a Ray Charles tune, maybe something by Donny Hathaway or Aretha Franklin. Aretha’s version of "Bridge Over Trouble Water" is always a good one.

What are you most excited about for your upcoming US fall tour?
Everything. I’m most excited about all of it. Touring in the states is going to be amazing! The venues, the crowds, the travelling -- long dusty stretches of road through deserts and mountains. Cannot wait to get started!

And we can't wait for you, James! Be sure to catch James when opens for ZZ Ward at the 9:30 Club on Saturday! Get your tickets to the early show here. Until then, you can download James' latest EP for free on Soundcloud!

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