He is one of the youngest, most-talked about and also most mysterious artists on the British music scene today. At the tender age of 20, singer/songwriter and guitarist Jake Bugg is already a multi-millionaire.
His self-titled first album went to number one on the UK charts when it was released in 2012. Last year, his second album, Shangri-La, came out and also made the UK top five.
Bugg headlined the Other Stage at Glastonbury this year, and will also play at this year’s Leeds Festival on the Sunday, just before the Arctic Monkeys close the weekend. Any journalist who has come into contact with him has commented on his incredibly mature manner and sensible outlook on life.
However, Bugg has a reputation for being somewhat moody at times during interviews, but this old head on young shoulders is in fine form as we speak about his upcoming arena tour with The Black Keys, his own label, and of course Leeds Festival.
He is in Colorado on a tour of America when we speak. In his laid back Nottingham accent, Bugg describes how it feels going from being the second-biggest act on the second-biggest stage at Reading and Leeds last year to being the second-biggest act on the main stage, this year.
“It’s great, man. It shows that if you keep going it will come off. Yeah, it’s great – it just shows me that things have been going well and it’s just an incentive to carry on with what I’m doing and just keep going, really.”
In an interview with NME, Bugg expressed his annoyance that he was unable to go and see Metallica at Glastonbury as they clashed with his set. Is there anyone he is desperate to see at Reading and Leeds? “I don’t think so, I haven’t really looked at the line-up, to be honest. I’ll have a little look and then I might go, but probably not. A lot of the music today is not really up my street, but you know there might be something that catches my ear, so we’ll see. It’s not that I’m purposely trying to dislike everything, it’s just that it’s frustrating that I don’t like anything, to be honest.”
Bugg has managed to put out two highly successful albums in a very short space of time compared to a lot of his contemporaries. Has he started to work on the famously challenging third album yet? “Quite a few people are asking me that, but I think when you finish a project, you go and work on the next thing and writing songs is what I love to do more than anything. I’m working on ideas, nothing is solid as yet, but we’ll just see what happens, that’s the exciting bit for me.”
Bugg’s maturity and down to earth approach to his success is obvious. He doesn’t drink before going on stage because he sees his job as just that. Evidence of his maturity and dedication to music is the fact that he has started his own label to sign artists he likes. “It’s part of Universal. I haven’t signed anyone yet, we’re just looking. When I started playing, the one thing I needed was to get my stuff on the road, and you know, to get a bit of a budget to get in the studio and just have a few connections. To have the budget to be able to do that helps a lot, and someone taking interest is a very inspiring thing.”
“I just hope that, you know, you put albums out there and you hope to inspire those young kids to pick up guitars and stuff, and it takes a few years to get good at your instrument and to get your band together and stuff, so we’ll see what happens in the next couple of years.”
2014 has proved to be a busy year touring-wise for Bugg.
After festival season is over, he will be the opening act for The Black Keys on their upcoming tour of the US. “It should be good, I haven’t supported on a tour for a while, so it will be nice to go and do half an hour or 45 minutes again and crack a beer afterwards!” he laughs. “Early doors.”
Before he hits the road with The Black Keys, Jake is off on a UK tour of his own this autumn. Aside from the big theatres, Bugg will be headlining a few arenas, too.
“It’s a different experience, I mean it’s great to have that intimacy on those small shows when everything’s quiet and it’s also good to have that roaring arena where you feel like an actual rock star for a little bit, so that’s pretty cool.
“I played my home town arena back in February, and that was amazing to be on that stage and to play to those people, so I can’t wait for the October tour, to be honest.”
Jake Bugg plays at Leeds Festival on Sunday August 24. For tickets www.leedsfestival.com/tickets