Jake Bugg interview: The singer-songwriter on his new record, handling success and performing in Leeds

Jake Bugg's fifth album marks a musical rebirth.

By Abbey Maclure
Sunday, 13th March 2022, 4:45 am
Jake Bugg's new album combines his love of ABBA, the Beach Boys, Supertramp and the Bee Gees with a contemporary pop sound (Photo: Jack Bridgland)
Jake Bugg's new album combines his love of ABBA, the Beach Boys, Supertramp and the Bee Gees with a contemporary pop sound (Photo: Jack Bridgland)

The Nottingham-born singer, who shot to the top of the charts with his self-titled debut album in 2012, had seen support waver in recent years - his third album didn't work out the way he'd hoped.

Taking with him the lessons learnt from On My One [2016] and its stripped-back follow up Hearts That Strain [2017], Jake went on a mission to create a more modern sound while retaining his DNA as an artist.

After collaborating with a raft of songwriters, who have written for some of the world's greatest pop stars, a new Jake Bugg era was born.

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Jake burst onto the scene with his eponymous debut album in 2012, released when he was 18 years old. He's pictured performing at Bridlington Spa in 2014.

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, released in August last year, combines Jake's love of ABBA, the Beach Boys, Supertramp and the Bee Gees with a contemporary pop sound.

Its euphoric lead single, All I Need, has been his biggest hit in years.

Ahead of a gig in Leeds next week, Jake caught up with the Yorkshire Evening Post on his new record, performing post-pandemic and writing the score for a new Ronaldinho documentary.

He will embark on a UK tour on Monday, performing in Newcastle before playing at the O2 Academy in Leeds the following day.

Jake will perform his latest album as well as a selection of fan favourites when he plays at Leeds O2 Academy on Tuesday night (Photo: Jack Bridgland)

“Leeds is a great city,” the 28-year-old said.

“It’s a fun night out and I see that in the crowd. They’re always up for it.

“There are a lot of great venues and it’s brilliant to play there, the people are welcoming and it’s always a great time.”

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Jake is writing the music for a new documentary on Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho (Photo: Jack Bridgland)

Jake was born into a musical family - his parents, uncles and cousins all performed in groups.

He said: “Because I was so surrounded by it, I absolutely hated music until I was about 12 years old and first picked up a guitar.

“I went on a journey of discovery, listening to old blues and folk artists, and I found my own world to venture into.”

It's been almost 10 years since Jake burst onto the scene with his eponymous debut album, which topped the UK album charts and saw the then 18-year-old dubbed as the next Bob Dylan.

It was a rapid rise to fame and he soon had huge crowds of fans singing his lyrics back to him.

“In hindsight, it was a lot to take in," Jake added.

"But I was very fortunate with the people I had around me and I was in America with Noel Gallagher and Snow Patrol in the week it went number one.

"Nobody had heard of me over there so I was away from all the madness."

A familiar name on the summer festival circuit, one the biggest moments of Jake's career was headlining the Other Stage in Glastonbury in 2014.

He was up against Metallica, one of his favourite bands growing up, who were playing at the same time on the Pyramid stage.

“That was a big moment for me," Jake said.

"And I’ve been lucky enough to have a few moments like that.”

There have been worldwide tours, an NME Award and plenty of nominations, and Jake has switched up his sound with each of his five albums.

“My sound has matured over the years as I’ve grown up," he added.

“I’ve always tried to do something different for every album; sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don’t.

"That’s part of the journey and what makes it exciting.”

When the pandemic hit, Jake had plenty to focus on, writing the music for a new documentary on Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho as well as working on the new album.

"It was up-and-coming artists that I really feel for," he said.

"It must have been brutal for artists who were just about to have their big break, or go on their first big tour, and then had the carpet swept out from under their feet.

“[Sheffield festival] Tramlines was my first big gig back in a tent full of people, we hadn’t played for a year and a half.

"The nerves were very strong, but once you get up there and the crowd starts singing back to you, and you feel they’re 100 per cent behind you, those nerves are numbed.

“That’s the power of music. No matter how you’re feeling it will put you in the right mood.”

Writing the score for a Ronaldinho film

During lockdown, Jake was approached by his manager about writing the soundtrack to an upcoming documentary, The Happiest Man In The World, about Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho.

He "didn't think twice" about his answer and has thrown himself into the project, taking a deep dive into Brazilian music.

Jake said: "It’s been a great experience for me to delve into this completely new territory and learn all about this great music in another part of the world.

“I think every young boy my age looked up to him when he was playing.

"To be that great at your craft and to have a smile on your face while you’re doing it is an inspiration to anyone.

"He’s a legend and I get to write music over him scoring great goals.”

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning

Jake will perform his latest album as well as a selection of fan favourites when he plays in Leeds on Tuesday night.

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning saw him working with some of his highest-profile collaborators to date.

It was an entirely new process for Jake, who was left with more than 40 songs contending for a spot on the album.

“It’s great to have that amount of work to choose from,” Jake said.

“I tried to work with as many different people as I could and learn as much as I could in the process.

“When I’m making an album, as important as it is for it to sound good, it also has to have an experience that you can take away.

“There’s always a story to be told or a situation I put myself in for that particular album.”

The most notable collaboration was with American songwriters Andrew Watt and Ali Tamposi, best known for their work with pop heavyweights Post Malone, Dua Lipa, Miley Cyrus and Camila Cabello.

“The album did what I wanted it to do," Jake said.

"I wanted to see if I could bring my DNA into a more modern sound. I think I achieved that but whether or not it was too far into the pop world, I’m not sure yet.

"We’ll get a good indication on the next few shows of what the fans are enjoying."

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