Apple Music Home Session: James Bay
James Bay has an admission to make. “It’s funny,” he tells Apple Music. “I didn’t really like Oasis or Coldplay as a kid. I picked up a guitar at 11 years old and wanted to be The Stones, Clapton or Hendrix. But as I got deeper and deeper into songwriting and studying great songs, I came to love Oasis, Coldplay, and more great modern songwriters. I totally fell in love with the music. So much so that I now sit and play their songs on guitar. That’s why I chose these songs: They’re just so timeless and brilliant.” He’s certainly chosen well for his exclusive Apple Music Home Session—the series where we challenge artists to record intimate versions of their own tracks and classic songs. “Trouble” remains one of Chris Martin’s most exquisite achievements, while “Don’t Look Back in Anger” has become something of an alternative national anthem for Brits. “It was loads of fun recording them, too,” he says. “I’m terrible with most forms of technology, but at the beginning of lockdown my friend [US songwriter] Dan Wilson recommended a new kind of 8-track recorder that you control either from your iPhone or the device itself. It’s very straightforward and I was good enough to record and produce these songs on it, by myself.”
Aside from a brush-up of rudimentary tech skills, did the period of lockdown allow for any other artistic development? “I hope it’s refined my songwriting,” he says. “It’s given me time to listen more—to all kinds of music. As a songwriter, I can’t help listening to the mechanics of how songs have been written. Even if I’m listening just to enjoy, my brain just does it. I’ve enjoyed the time to study in that respect.” And for Bay, this challenging period is all building up to one brilliant day. “Myself and other artists have been talking about how completely glorious it will be to get back to doing live shows as we knew it, as they should always be,” he says. “It will be complete and utter euphoria."