James Bay has given the lowdown on his reinvention and upcoming second album in a new interview with Music Week.
The as-yet-untitled LP, the follow-up to Bay's near triple platinum 2015 debut Chaos And The Calm (Republic/Virgin EMI), is released in May. Lead single Wild Love, which charted in the Top 40 earlier this month, bears an exciting new sound that has drawn comparisons with the likes of Drake and Frank Ocean.
Speaking in the latest issue of Music Week, of which he is the cover star, Bay said: “There are tracks on the album that felt a little bit more similar to the older music and therefore safer, as a first move, and there are tracks that feel so different to the old music that they felt a little riskier. I never wanted to go safe though, so we needed to find a middle ground - and Wild Love was the perfect middle ground.
“There's a shock factor, there's a few people that have been played that song and have said, ‘Who's this?’ And they can't guess. I love that - because when they find out it's me they go, ‘Oh wow!’ And suddenly they're flooded with this idea of evolution in my music - and me as an artist."
Chaos And The Calm has sold a highly impressive 812,079 copies in the UK to date, according to the Official Charts Company. Its triumph was due in no small part to million-selling singles Hold Back The River (1,553,359) and Let It Go (1,230,591), which peaked at No.2 and No.10 respectively on the UK chart. But ambitions for album two are grander still.
“I don't feel like I would be able to do this if I couldn't set higher and bigger goals than before," said Bay. "I'm so proud of everything I've achieved with Chaos And The Calm, but why would I be doing this if I didn't want to eclipse all of those achievements? That's just who I am.
“The Chaos And The Calm campaign amounted to three billion streams of that music across all platforms - fantastic! I'm so proud of it but that's the springboard. I wouldn't be here right now if I didn't truly believe [the new music] is ready, and it's exciting, and it's going to make big strides. The expectations are all just bigger than the first time around."
The full interview - with contributions from Bay's co-manager Paul McDonald of Closer Artists and Virgin EMI president Ted Cockle - appears in this week's edition of Music Week. To subscribe and never miss a music biz story click here.