Maxim Meyer-Horn

17 Dec 2020

Jake Bugg: “Success Doesn’t Always Come My Way in Regards to My Records”

Jake Bugg is still in his twenties but already wrote songs that are considered absolute classics. The Brit-pop superstar became a shooting star with his self-titled debut, which became a number one in the UK and had great success in Europe as well. Eight years later, the British singer is working on his fifth studio album and took the time to look back and ahead in a retrospective interview.

You were only eighteen when you released your first album. Looking back, do you think you released the record at the right time in your life?

Yeah, I think so. I released it at the best time I could because there were only a few artists that made music with the guitar as I did. It did a lot better than I expected, actually.

Was it an advantage that you were so young when you released the album?

Certainly! It’s given me many more years and experience in the industry because of releasing my debut when I was so young, so it was definitely a good thing.

Your songs “Lightning Bolt” and “Two Fingers” are already considered classics. What makes your music so timeless in your opinion?

I’m probably not the best to be asked this question to be honest but I just believe in good songs. You can have a great song, and it doesn’t matter when it was released or what type of genre the music is. It’s just all about the song I guess and people making a connection with it.

You were always inspired by legendary bands like The Beatles or Oasis. How important were these acts in your development as an artist?

With both of those groups, it really comes down to their fantastic songs. Growing up listening to that was so consciously and something that you realize, they made songs that speak to people. They had a big impact on me when I was younger and they simply are great bands.

Did you always want to be a solo artist or were you dreaming of being in a band?

When I was younger, I always wanted to be in a band because you share this whole experience with your friends and got a little bit more support in the industry. I kind of soon realized that getting a band together and get everybody to stick together and play the songs, is pretty difficult. It was easier for me to write and perform on my own, which made it way easier for me.

In “All I Need” you sing: ‘Call me cynical, but original / Tryin’ to fit into a world that’s so digital’. Would you prefer to live in another era like the ’60s or ’70s?

Not specifically, no. When I think of different times, it all has its goods and bads like it does now. I just find it very difficult to think of living in another era where I’m not able to stay in touch with the people I met like we’re able to do now.  That would be a shame, so I wouldn’t prefer to live in another time.

Social media became an important part of our society. Why is it such a powerful tool for an artist?

It comes down to simple promotion. If you have new material or a new song, you can put it out to your friends and they can listen to it straight away. It’s also nice to have this connection, feedback, and support from your fans on social media as well. Of course, there are also some bad sides to it too, like for almost everything, but it’s something great for me as an artist.

“All I Need” has a beautiful music video. What’s the message of the visuals?

I’ve done a few videos with … in the past and we always like to keep our visuals on a more trippy, psychedelic side. With the visuals of “All I Need”, we tried to create an underlining story but it didn’t take away from the meaning of the song or what the song is about. There’s still room for interpretation left and I actually felt more comfortable in this video compared to my previous ones.

In 2020, the music industry was challenged to come up with new concepts like live streams. Is that the future of music?

I think that we have to endure the live streams a little longer, but I really like to think that it’s not the future. To be honest, as soon as it is safe enough to do so, everybody would love to be back in a venue, listen to live music, and share the experience with others. It’s something the audience misses but something artists miss for sure too.

Was touring an important part of your development as an artist?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that it had an impact on my creative development because it’s actually quite tiring and exhausting to be on the road. For the development for me as a person, it definitely was. Traveling around, experience different cultures and meeting new people can only be a good experience for everybody and it certainly helped me develop as a person, I believe.

Do you write a lot of music when you’re on the road or is that a totally separate process?

When I’m on tour, I’m really focused on the concerts but you also have a lot of time to wait around. I don’t want to tie myself out, so I come up with ideas and take them into the studio after the tour is over. I usually use my free time on a tour to relax, so I don’t write a lot on the road.

You’re already in the industry for some time now. How would you summarize your path and experiences so far?

I experienced a lot in these eight years. I had some amazing heights and played some amazing concerts, but I also had some lows as well. Success doesn’t always come my way in regards to my records and that’s the way it goes as an artist sometimes. I never stopped doing what I do and I’ll try to write the best songs I can. It’s been a great eight years that have not always been easy and I wouldn’t change it for anything else.

Is it difficult for you when you put so much effort and love into a project and it doesn’t get the recognition you hoped for?

Of course, because I’ll always create the things I want to make. When you put your heart and soul into a project, it’s sad that nobody wants to play it or it gets pushed on one side. You just have to take yourself up in these moments and you have to keep working on your art. Try to get better is all you can do, and there’s no point in sitting there and feel sorry for yourself. You have to get up and start working on the next song.

Did that trigger you to reinvent yourself on every album by trying new genres and sounds?

Yes, I just love writing songs and listen to all kinds of genres. I try to do something new for every record and sometimes it will work, while other times it won’t. I need do that. There are a lot of artists that would choose to do everything a little bit more themselves if there wouldn’t be so much backlash from for example their record label. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to experiment and try to discover new sounds on every record.

You’ve released some singles this year. Is it leading up to your fifth album?

I’m pretty much there with the album and have many more songs to release. I’m at the stage where I’m thinking of the album title and things like that. The ideal time to release the record would be a time where we could resume touring and playing again. We don’t know what will happen in the next year, but I’d love to tour the new album because I couldn’t think of releasing music without being able to perform it live.

Photos by Jack Bridgland

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