JAMES Bay has reminisced about his early career in Brighton and opening for Ed Sheeran on tour.

The singer-songwriter made his name by busking and performing for free on the streets of Brighton.

The 31-year-old, who shot to fame in 2014 with the release of his EP Let It Go, attended Bimm (The British and Irish Modern Music Institute) in Brighton, and spent his afternoons busking in The Lanes.

After performing six-weeks of sold out shows in America and touring Europe with Ed Sheeran in 2019, James said while he knew it was a special moment in his career, he was struggling.

“That year was a high, but deeper down I was experiencing one of the bigger lows that I’ve ever known in my time as an artist,” he said.

“It wasn’t fun, and I was struggling to know how to deal with it. I was trying to write about it, I was trying to make songs about it, and f****** hell I wrote a lot of sad songs to the point that a lot of them went into bin.”

The Argus: Singer-songwriter James Bay made his name by busking on the streets of Brighton Singer-songwriter James Bay made his name by busking on the streets of Brighton

Feeling like he’d “lost sight of who I was”, James said he eventually channelled his anxiety into creating new material.

“You can’t take anything for granted,” he said. “Every single day is like when I used to walk around Brighton at night, playing open mic nights, playing to anybody who would have me.

“Every single day is the same today as it was then. Every day, every night, every gig. Every time I sit down to write, I have to give it my everything. And I can’t control the outcomes. That’s something that is hard to accept at times.

“It’s hard for a lot of artists. I can’t control that so it has to be this leap from me and this hope that the net will appear and then it will be okay.”

Only towards the end of the recording process did he settle on the title ‘Leap’ after stumbling across a quote by 19th century American naturalist John Burroughs: “Leap, and the net will appear.”

James said he worked through his emotions by turning to his girlfriend Lucy Smith, who he has been with since they were teenagers, and his close friends.

He was able to finish the record before lockdown hit, but the release was put on hold.

“I made these songs, I recorded this album, and it was a very strange process because in March 2020 I thought I was finished, and I couldn’t put the album out,” he said.

“When the pandemic began we said we would wait a few weeks and then we’ll get on with this. But then a few weeks passed, and then a few months, and then the rest of 2020 was a write-off. And then all of 2021 was a write-off for me personally as an artist who needs to go and travel around the world and be in radio stations and be in venues and be with the fans and play the songs.

“So all of that time passed, and I ended up writing more songs, some of which beat the ones that were on the original album.”

Leap will be released on July 8.