It's been three years since James Bay released his debut album Chaos and the Calm, and the England-born musician has returned with a brand new single called "Wild Love" -- the first taste of a brand new album to be released in the spring. 

Over the last few years, following his last tour, James spent much of the year working on new music and as he explains it during an exclusive interview with iHeartRadio, "I've been very intentionally kind of hidden away, evolving as an artist, working on chapter two."

On James's evolution & why it was necessary to cut his hair

This new era of James Bay comes with an evolved sound, as well as a new look. Fans have noticed he recently switched up his hairstyle, chopping off his long locks and opting for shorter hair. James tells iHeartRadio of the inspiration behind this new outlook:

"For me as an artist, moving forward is about evolving. Moving forward and evolving, they're the same thing. So it was absolutely time to lose the hat, lose the hair, and reinvent. I've spent 2017 feeding loads of new influences into the music I've been making. Stuff that didn't necessarily apply so much the to the music I made on Chaos and the Calm, but there are, of course, moments on my new record where I've kind of bridged the gap between the two. I want fans to feel a familiarity, but also, I'm trying to reach with my music; I'm trying to reach a lot of new people. I don't expect any of my fans to be the same person now that they were five years ago. So I expect they will evolve in all sorts of ways, and I'm doing the same thing."

Some of James's reinvention comes from what he learned making his first album a few years ago, and taking that knowledge with him while making his second LP. He tells us, "I learned as much about what I wanted to do again going forward as I did about what I don't want to do again. I learned a lot about my own process as a writer, as a creator, and I suppose all in the name of evolution, I did realize making my first record that that was a moment in time for me, for my fans, for my music, and that the second time around it would always be about just changing the pallet and changing the sonic pallet, and my ethos moving through making all this music. Because if I'm not moving forward in what I'm doing, and I'm just standing still, and standing still feels boring. So I learned about what it truly is to evolve and push my own boundaries. And one of the ways in which I did that is to evolve different instruments and different approaches in this recording process. And to how I did it and what I used in the first recording process."

James Bay

On the meaning behind his new single "Wild Love" & upcoming new album

The first peek at James' sophomore album comes in the form of its lead single "Wild Love." Fans will already notice the difference in Bay's music as the song draws upon some R&B influences. And the song itself, as suggested by the title, is all about that overwhelming feeling of love. He tells us, "It's a song about falling madly and deeply for someone, and all of the furious passion that you feel in that moment, whether it be a first time thing, locking eyes with someone across the room, or whether it's with somebody that you like enough to feel it with again and again. So it's about that and that feeling of euphoria that comes with it."

This spring, fans will be able to hear more of James's new wave of music on his new album. And he explains that while he still has the guitar throughout his music, he's added some new elements, as heard on "Wild Love," citing inspiration from artists including Prince, Michael Jackson, Frank Ocean, LCD Soundsystem, and more. He explains:

"While the influences that went into my first record were the likes of Kings of Leon, Ryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, music like that, this time around it's been everybody from Prince and Michael Jackson, to Frank Ocean, to The Strokes, LCD Sound System, Blondie, David Bowie. And I've still got the guitar throughout almost all the music. So I got an extra limb for me. I'm not going to let the guitar get away, but I've been playing with program drums and smashing those sounds up against organic drums. And I've got synthesizers involved in my music a lot more. Just a whole different soundscape to what I did before."

James Bay
James Bay

Photos: Rachel Kaplan