English singer-songwriter Jake Bugg made his debut in 2011 and has released four studio albums since then, his latest record being Hearts That Strain in 2017. In November last year, Bugg announced an acoustic tour in support of the album.
His debut, self-titled record of realistic guitar-driven songs about working class British life went double platinum in 2012, and earned Bugg comparisons to Bob Dylan. As one might expect, that's a lot of pressure. Since then, Bugg has performed at globally renowned festivals such as Glastonbury and also worked with legendary producer Rick Rubin.
Bandwagon spoke to Jake Bugg ahead of his concert in Singapore about how he deals with the pressure of artistic comparisons, working with multiple producers and more. Check out the complete interview below.
You’re set to perform in Singapore this month. How do you feel about having the chance to perform in Singapore?
I’m really excited about it. Anytime I get the chance to perform in a country or city that I haven't been to before, it’s a nice little reminder of what music can do, and it’s a reminder of the larger picture of things. I've only known a small part of the world all my life, but music has given me a larger perspective and has given me the chance to perform all over the world. It’s why I do what I do and I can’t wait to come to Singapore and meet new fans and play for them some of my own music.
Your earlier work earned you comparisons to the great Bob Dylan. What was that like?
It didn't really bother me; I never pay attention to these kinds of things. For me, it’s all about writing songs that I enjoy, it doesn't matter if people say I sound like someone else. Obviously Bob Dylan is a great comparison but at the same time, I’m my own person and I’m my own musician. There’s a reason no one has written the songs that I have and that’s because those are my feelings, my experiences and so on. So I appreciate the comparison but I’d like to be known as the only Jake Bugg, not the second Bob Dylan.
You performed at Glastonbury in 2011 before releasing your debut album a year later. What was that entire experience like?
It’s amazing, I think looking back at it now, I would’ve liked for the opportunity to come later. I would’ve liked to be more experienced, more confident, have some stronger songwriting skills but at the same time, I can’t fault that performance because it made me who I am today, it shaped my career in ways I couldn't have imagined. It was a great show, it was everything I wanted it to be and more. Glastonbury was amazing.
Your debut went double platinum. Was there any pressure going into the studio again for your second record, and if so, how did you deal with it?
There’s always pressure. People always say the second record is the hardest to make, and then you do it and the third record is the hardest and so on. I’ve always held myself to a certain regard and I think the pressure I put on myself outweighs the pressure from any external bodies, because at the end of the day, If I’m not content with the music I’m putting out, what’s the point? I’m just going to focus on doing what I do best.
You've often cited Oasis as a major influence. What was it like opening for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds?
It was nuts. It was one of the greatest and happiest moments of life. Growing up, Noel was a huge influence on me and playing with one of my heroes has always been a dream of mine. He was really nice and he gave me advice so that was cool.
You released your fourth album last year. What are some of the changes that you've made in the studio now, compared to the recording sessions for your earlier albums?
For the previous records, I was working in many different studios with many different producers and that was a great experience in itself, I learnt so much from many different people and it was really fulfilling, but at the same time, it was kind of messy. Now, I’m in the same studio, working with the same producer and the same musicians, some worked with Elvis [Presley] and [Bruce] Springsteen so that’s a lot of experience. After spending some time in the studio together, your creative minds kind of get in sync and things are easier to work out.
Now that you’re on your fourth album, you’ve had the chance to experiment with different producers and recording styles. Is there a certain way of working that you now favour?
Not really, no. I still like trying out new things. The fourth album, the one with the same studio and producer and musicians was a learning experience for me, as were the previous records. Now is my chance to go out and try something different once again. I think that’s an important part of being a musician, you keep evolving and learning new things and having new experiences. So I’m definitely going to be trying something new for the next record.
Some artists begin working on new material before their latest album is even out. Do you identify yourself as one of those artists, or are you currently just enjoying the wave of your fourth album?
I enjoy myself the most when I’m writing new music. I’m constantly writing, so yeah, I’ve essentially started working on the fifth album, I just haven't gone into the studio yet. Here’s the thing, a lot of people think that working an album starts with entering the studio. You can’t enter the studio if you have nothing planned. You need demos, an idea of what the album’s going to be like, so yeah, I’m already working on the new album. Hopefully I can get something out next year and it’ll be a little bit more upbeat than the fourth record, with a little bit more electric guitar in it as well.
Jake Bugg will be performing at the *SCAPE Ground Theatre, Singapore on 28 April from 8pm to 10pm, presented by Live Nation. Tickets are on sale now for S$68. Get your tickets here.