James Michael Bay.
You may know him from his 2014 hit, “Hold Back The River”, but there’s TONS more to know about James Bay. Not only is he a talented individual who writes incredible songs, but he also has an interesting link to Taylor Swift.
Whether you’re already a huge James Bay fan or are just getting into his music, these fun facts about James are must-knows.
- He learned to play the guitar from YouTube videos, and taught himself to play by ear at the age of 11. Impressive.
- He was inspired to play classical guitar after hearing Eric Clapton’s “Layla.”
- When he was 18, he left home to go to school in Brighton, England at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music. Clearly that paid off!
- His signing with Republic Records came through a YouTube video he posted. It was a video of him performing that made it’s way onto YouTube, catching the eye of an A&R rep and the rest is history. He reflected in an interview, “I think back through that journey: me, in the window of a dark pub, London buses going past behind me, that going up on YouTube; Then, I’m in New York City!” What a story.
- James was the recipient of the BRIT’s 2015 Critics’ Choice Award. He became the eighth winner of the award, following in the footsteps of big names like Adele and Sam Smith.
- He opened for Taylor Swift on the European leg of her 1989 World Tour. We need a duet ASAP, please!
- One of the most powerful tracks on his debut album, “Scars,” has a great meaning behind it (as do the rest of his songs). He wrote it based on his feelings when his girlfriend moved away to attend school after they had been dating for four years.
- His debut album, Chaos and the Calm, hit number one on the Irish and UK charts after selling over 64,000 copies within it’s first week. Impressive.
- James was nominated for THREE Grammys in 2016 for “Best New Artist,” “Best Rock Album,” and “Best Rock Song.”
- He really, really likes to wear fedora’s.
- Last but not least, in a move no one saw coming, James just cut of ALL of his hair. The hair that has been untouched since he came up on the scene. He surprised everyone with the chop at the MTV EMAs red carpet, but of course still looked dreamy.
We’re taking it as a hint that one James Bay era is over and a brand new one is about to begin. He told NME, “I’ve been making the new album, which I’m very happy to say is nearly ready. It’s a time ago that I put songs out so I’m very close to that.”
He added, “It definitely takes it to a new place. I’ve got a new look, a new sound. I just fancied a new chapter.”
To say we’re excited is an understatement.
Anyone else do a double take? Join the club 🙋 What is your favourite James Bay song? Let us know in the comments below, or send us a tweet @umusic.