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James Bay reveals what turned on his "Electric Light"

Republic RecordsJames Bay's sophomore album Electric Light, out now, features the singer showing off not just a new sound, but a new look: He ditched his signature hat and cut his hair short.  According to James, fans have been responding extremely well to both these changes.

"People are diggin' the haircut, which is really nice!" he laughs. "And the new sound...yeah, there's been an incredible reaction. That was a really special feeling, 'cause to have new music out again for the first time in such a long time, and feel that reaction, is amazing."

Electric Light, which James previewed with the tracks "Us," "Wild Love" and "Pink Lemonade," features more edgy and adventurous production than his Grammy-nominated debut, Chaos and the Calm.

"I spent most of my life putting together my first album," he says. "And all the music that inspired [it] is what I was listening to. Then suddenly I'm touring the first album, I'm playing a certain sound live and I'm listening to the sound that inspired it....it all gets a bit much."

That's when James decided to cleanse his sonic palate with a bunch of artists who were new to him, including David Bowie, Prince, Lorde, Blondie, The Strokes, Drake and Frank Ocean.

"I fell in love with all this music...and that really is what inspires you when you're going into the studio," he tells ABC Radio. "And when it's done enough of that job, you have to get into the studio."

Despite the edgy new production, James feels Electric Light won't ever sound dated, because he created the songs themselves to be "timeless."

"The production and the sound of the record are absolutely of the moment," he explains. "But the songs  -- they're songs that can exist into the future, and could have existed before."

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