British singer-songwriter James Bay poses for a photograph in Sydney, Tuesday, April 17, 2018. Bay's second album Electric Light will be released on May 18. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
Bowie did it. Lady Gaga does it. Even Miley Cyrus is a culprit.
It's now British singer-songwriter James Bay's turn to adopt an image change.
In Australia this week, Bay is promoting his new single Us from his forthcoming second album, Electric Light, but he looks almost unrecognisable. Gone are the flowing locks and the felt fedora hat that gave him his distinctive silhouette throughout the release of his first album, the number one record Chaos and the Calm.
Instead Bay has a shortened, quiffed hairstyle and no hat.
"I got my hair cut, and it was great because I'd had long hair for 12 or 13 years. It was the same hair that you all knew me with, and I had had for a very long time," Bay told AAP.
"I'd been playing shows in a hat, that hat, since I was about 19 and it was as intentional to wear that, to have that look, as it was to lose it."
The hat, and the hair all complemented his Americana-folk pop style, marking him out as a guitar-wielding troubadour with hits such as Let It Go and Hold Back The River.
But as his new music took on a different shape, he realised he needed a new image to match.
"I want to do this for the rest of my life and I can't spend the rest of my life with a big felt hat on my head and all that hair. It's way more fun and exciting to evolve and I think I'm allowed that as well as everyone else," he said.
"It's the greatest to explore new horizons, sonically and aesthetically."
It's a package deal, really. Electric Light brings Bay into new territory, singles Wild Love and Pink Lemonade are charged, high-energy pop songs which use synthesisers and push the artist out of the realm of Americana.
While his first record was inspired by Bruce Springsteen, Carol King and Ryan Adams, Bay looked to other heroes such as Bowie and Prince and The Strokes to inspire his new work, and discovered other artists.
"Some of it was newer to me, LCD Soundsystem, Frank Ocean, Lorde's music had sort of been in the atmosphere but I really dug into it over the last couple of years. And there were some Blondie influences and some Drake influences, and the list goes on," he said.
"But it was so freeing - when I was touring Chaos and the Calm so much - to love and to listen to stuff that didn't relate to Chaos and the Calm. And it naturally went on to be stuff that inspired now my second record."
* Us is out now and James Bay will return to Australia in July to play at the Splendour in the Grass festival
© AAP 2018