James Bay is a 22-year-old musician hailing from the small town of Hitchin in the UK. James took time out of his frantic schedule to chat with me about his current two-month tour, which will take him to The Academy 2 on the March 2 and will see him support Irish sensation Kodaline later in Dublin’s O2.
Miriam Doona: You are currently on tour supporting both Tom Odell and John Newman this month. You have also supported Laura Mvula last year. Do you find there to be a lot of support or a good support network amongst young and upcoming English artists?
James Bay: I am now currently supporting John Newman. And yeah, to answer your question I would have to say…. yes. Having supported and played with these artists, it is a great fact that you get to share an audience with them, it is definitely one of the greatest benefits and gives a great opportunity for me to grow and expand my audience, especially playing to one that maybe hasn’t heard my stuff and came for different music.
MD: You are so busy at the moment, in addition to the above mentioned support this month, you will do fifteen dates of your own. How do you find such a hectic schedule, is it hard to manage?
JB: I have really good people around me, and that really makes this easier, it is definitely easier with them. So far so good, I have to say. If things get difficult I think about what I am doing and why I am doing it.
MD: In March you are on the road with Kodaline, supporting them in the O2 and, in addition to that, on March 2, you will do a date here in Dublin in The Academy 2. You have played in Dublin before, how do you find Dublin audiences?
JB: Yes to both. My first UK and Ireland tour, I did thee nights in The Olympia Theatre in Dublin with Kodaline, and it was probably three of the best nights of my career so far. After the shows, there was a long line each night, and the people wanted to chat and buy CDs and the atmosphere was great. I love Dublin audiences, I know everyone says that, but my experience was really great. I am really looking forward to supporting Kodaline. They have really given me a platform and I will not be performing alon. I have a load to look forward to.
MD: Your EP is entitled The Dark of the Morning. Can you explain the meaning of the title and what is the overall theme of the EP?
JB: The Dark of the Morning comes from the lyric “Let me stay in the dark of the morning”. This line really stuck with me. Every day begins from 12am—3am. It signifies the beginning of something larger so the EP signifies a beginning for me.
MD: You have an exceptionally powerful voice. When did you first discover you could sing?
JB: I began playing the guitar we I was about twelve and I started listening to singers like Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Johnny Borrell from Razorlight and I came back around to singing when I was in various bands. I did backing vocals in bands and I gradually tried it more and more. I was finishing complete songs by the age of 15 or 16 and I had to sing them for someone, so that’s how I began.
MD: Musically, what are your influences and who, alive or deceased, would be the artist you would most like to perform with?
JB: There are worlds of differences with my various influences. I definitely include soul music; Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye and rock n roll too, bands like The Stones, also Bob Dylan and newer artist too, such as Ben Howard. Rock n roll has a strong, fiery soul of its own and having loads of influences gives an artist a melting pot for his or her own sound. I am listening to a band called Half Moon Run at the moment, which are really cool and an artist called Emily King from New York, who is also really amazing. Ryan Adams is also a huge influence too….as for my dream performance…there are millions, but I really have to say…just sitting back playing some chords while Louis Armstrong played…you could not really get any better than that.
MD: Things are so full on for you up to next month. What have you lined up for after March, should we expect an album?
JB: After March I will be closer to album stuff. I will be heading back to the US for an album tour. I definitely have hopes and dreams to perform with the band at some festivals too.