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Exclusive: James Bay On Tina Turner, 'Electric Light' & Playing Soccer

James Bay

Photo: Daniel Mendoza/Recording Academy

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Exclusive: James Bay On Tina Turner, 'Electric Light' & Playing Soccer

The GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter describes the inspirational shift he made from his debut album to his stunning sophomore effort and reveals what he does for fun

GRAMMYs/Aug 5, 2018 - 12:53 am

British singer/songwriter James Bay is, among other things, a well-versed music aficionado. From his folk-friendly debut Chaos And The Calm to his electrified pop-tinged new album, Electric Light, simply listen through his first two albums to experience the range of great music he draws inspiration from for songs. In both cases, what makes Bay stand out isn't the influences he draws upon, but rather the way he brings them to life in his music.

We tracked down Bay backstage at Lollapalooza to ask him about his newly released cover of Tina Turner's "The Best," the new slew of influences who informed the sound of his sophomore album, the story behind "Pink Lemonade," and more.

You just dropped your version of Tina Turner's "The Best" earlier this week. How did you pick that song to cover?

It was two things, really. Most importantly it's a song I've always loved. And unashamedly, it didn't have to fit any criteria other than, "do I love it?" And it felt unexpected. I think that it's fun to catch people off guard like that. I like lots and lots of different music, and I love to talk about the wide variety of music I like. But… you catch them off guard with something like that, and everybody kind of goes, "Hey, that's exciting, we didn't expect it."

Sure, you definitely have musical range, and I think your new album demonstrates that. In the three years since Chaos And The Calm, how did you choose the direction you took for Electric Light, musically?

Well, one of the first things, and the kind of the main reasons, is that for all of the music that inspired Chaos And The Calm, and that was a long list of [Bruce] Springsteen, Ryan Adams, Adele, Carole King, it's a list of lots of different artists. I tried not to lean on those [influences] for the second record, because I had so many [more], there's so much more music that I love and that I listen to and inspires me. Prince's music, Michael Jackson's music, David Bowie, and then more recently Frank Ocean, and Lorde, and the list goes on and on.

I was listening to that music in the gap between touring Chaos And The Calm and making the new record, and it inspired me more. I love it, as much as I love a lot of other music, and it inspired me enough to respond to make a record, and I guess that's how Electric Light sounds the way it does.

"Pink Lemonade" hit a lot of people's ears as a fresh sound from you. Can you talk a little bit about writing that song and how it came together?

That's one of those songs, if you break down the chords… if you play those chords on a piano, at a slightly slower pace, they exist under a pretty kind of jazzy kind of light. Sometimes when you thrash those chords out on a guitar, it's this kind of nuanced sort of alternative rock sound. But the song started out almost as a ballad. It was John Green who I made this record with, an old friend and a fantastic musician, writer, producer. He was on the piano, I was on a drum kit, playing like a half time feel, and we loved it. And we were getting the melodies together like that, and then we just wanted something that had more and more and more urgency, so I just started to thrash it out on a- I have this amazing old 1960 Gibson Les Paul special, we had a little Fender Champion. The combo was great. And it sounded like a lot of different things, and it sounded fresh at the same time. And the song was born.

Nice. Lastly, what are some hobbies you have outside of music?

Football, soccer. I am a big fan! I'll translate that one there, yeah [laughs]. I love playing. It really removes me from all of what work is. I like to draw. I've always drawn. I like to hang out with people and chat… I like to sit and talk with old friends for long periods of time, and just kind of be a human and live.

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Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY

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Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY

Director Allen Hughes' four-part documentary takes home Best Music Film honors for its portrayal of the unlikely partnership that changed the music business

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 02:09 am

The team behind The Defiant Ones celebrated a big win for Best Music Film at the 60th GRAMMY Awards. The crew awarded include director Allen Hughes and producers Sarah Anthony, Fritzi Horstman, Broderick Johnson, Gene Kirkwood, Andrew Kosove, Laura Lancaster, Michael Lombardo, Jerry Longarzo, Doug Pray & Steven Williams.

In a year rife with quality music documentaries and series, the bar has been set high for this dynamic category. The Defiant Ones is a four-part HBO documentary telling the story of an unlikely duo taking the music business by storm seems better suited for fantastical pages of a comic book, but for engineer-turned-mogul Jimmy Iovine and super-producer Dr. Dre, it's all truth.The Defiant Ones recounts their histories, their tribulations and their wild success. These include first-hand accounts from those who were there in Iovine's early days, such as Bruce Springsteen and U2's Bono, as well as those on board when Dre and Iovine joined forces, such as Snoop Dogg and Eminem.

The competition was stiff as the category was filled with compelling films such as One More Time With Feeling, Two Trains Runnin', Soundbreaking, and Long Strange Trip. 

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Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs

Photos: WireImage.com

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Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs

Also see James Fauntleroy, Reba McIntire, Latroit, and more after they stepped off the GRAMMY stage

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 05:39 am

What do artists do the moment they walk off the GRAMMY stage from presenting, accepting an award or performing? Now, you can find out.

Take a peak at Album Of The Year GRAMMY winner Bruno Mars, 60th GRAMMY Awards Host James Cordon, Cardi B minutes before her electrifying performance of "Finesse," and more!

Also see Best Pop Duo/Group Performance GRAMMY winners Portugal. The Man posing with their first career GRAMMY Award, Best Roots Gospel Album GRAMMY winner Reba McIntire right after she walked offstage, Best R&B Song GRAMMY winner James Fauntleroy, Best Remixed Recording GRAMMY winner Latroit, and many more, with these photos from backstage during the 60th GRAMMY Awards.

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Glenn Danzig

Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2017 - 05:28 am

There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.

The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.

This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.

"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."

Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.

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Bruno Mars Wins Song Of The Year | 2018 GRAMMYs

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Bruno Mars Wins Song Of The Year | 2018 GRAMMYs

The Hawaiian native takes home Song Of The Year for "That's What I Like" at the 60th GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 08:11 am

Feeling the 24K Magic, Bruno Mars' successful progress through the categories he's been nominated in at the 60th GRAMMY Awards picked up another one at Song Of The Year for "That's What I Like."


Christopher Brody Brown and Philip Lawrence co-write with Mars under the name Shampoo Press & Curl. The other winning songwriters for Mars' hit tonight in this category are James Fauntleroy and production team "The Sterotypes" — Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus and  Jonathan Yip.

For additional "Finesse" on stage at the 60th GRAMMY Awards, Mars was joined by Cardi B for a reprise of their 148-million-views hit remix.

The Album Of The Year GRAMMY Award wrapped up the night and wrapped up Bruno Mars' complete rampage through his six nominated categories — now six wins.

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