The breakout Brit is up for three awards, including Best New Artist

By Jeff Nelson
Updated December 18, 2015 05:45 PM
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Credit: Republic Records

James Bay is up for three Grammys, and it turns out he might just have a good luck charm to credit for the nods.

“I like to think the hat’s what got me the nominations,” the British singer says in the new issue of PEOPLE of his signature fedora.

Bay is a Best New Artist contender, and he’s also up for Best Rock Song for his breakout hit “Hold Back the River” and Best Rock Album for his debut LP Chaos and the Calm. And when he found out about his attention from the Recording Academy, he didn’t believe it at first.

“I was in the car, and I was going through the wonderful Twitter, and I wasn’t sure for a minute because it wasn’t the Grammys who Tweeted it; some blog had Tweeted the nominations for the Best New Artist. So I quickly checked on the Grammy Twitter, and I was nominated for Best New Artist! So my head exploded,” the 25-year-old recalls.

For more on James Bay, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

“Then someone from the label called my manager, who was in the car as well, and said, ‘Yeah, we’ve been nominated for two more!’ And my head exploded two more times,” he added.

Catch Bay (and his headwear) at the Grammys, broadcast on CBS Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. ET.