Lollapalooza: This Is How James Bay Decided on His Signature Look

Lucy Hewett for Billboard
James Bay

After his performance at Lollapalooza on Friday, we chatted with the English crooner about his onstage presence and affinity for hats.

The first time we heard James Bay, it was from live-streaming Burberry's spring 2015 show where he performed "When We Were on Fire" and "Scars" as Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne watched from the front row.

Since then, we knew Bay was one to watch. The English crooner has gone on to release his first studio album, Chaos and the Calm (Republic Records), play sold-out shows during his U.S. and U.K. tour and now, he's performed at one of the country's biggest music festivals.

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Having played in front of massive crowds (Lollapalooza) and intimate settings (Burberry show), Bay says his performances are "almost always about the crowd reaction, the people in front of me."


A video posted by James Bay (@jamesbaymusic) on

"The great thing about festivals and large crowds [is] you can get everyone together and it could be a really explosive moment," he told Pret-a-Reporter on Friday postperformance, continuing, "In intimate settings, it's sort of about the intricate sounds and the way you can play with dynamics and tearing things down, and making things sound huge as well in a small space."

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The 24-year-old singer may be known for his indie folk sound, but there's no denying he also looks the part of a rock star, with his chiseled cheekbones, long hair and wide-brimmed hat.

Asked when his obsession with chapeaux came about, Bay said with a slight chuckle, "It's less of an obsession but more just like I enjoy the rock 'n' roll theater and having a bit of a look — from Michael Jackson to Bruce Springsteen, they've always had a signature look going on. So that's what it's all about."

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"It's about three or four years ago I really started doing this. It's just a natural thing, feeling comfortable and cool at the time," he explained of when his hat-wearing days began. While more often than not he's seen with his headgear on, he did make sure to note, "I enjoy taking the hat off."

And when it comes to finding the right fedoras, Bay said he's a fan of Australian hatmakers Akubra and Nashville's HatWRKS.

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