Backstage at Leeds…with Jake Bugg

Posted on October 1, 2012

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written by Rob Pollard for Leeds Festival

How important do you feel BBC Introducing has been in helping to launch your music career?

I think it’s helped loads actually. I just found it on a website and I thought ‘why has no one told me about this before’? You just upload your music and it could go on the radio. I did it and my local station got back the very next day saying ‘we wanna play your tracks’. It’s amazing, my first radio play. Then Dean Jackson, from BBC Nottingham, really took me under his wing and helped get me on Radio 1 and I got on the Glastonbury [BBC Introducing] Stage. After that I was signed, so it was an incredible help.

How’s it going with Mercury Records?

Brilliant, they’ve been really good. They haven’t tried to manufacture me or make me something that I’m not, it’s just, like, you do what you do and go away and write songs. They just let things build naturally and let me get on with it, which is great.

Your vocal delivery has had Bob Dylan comparisons. Is he an influence?

Yeah, I like Bob Dylan and a lot of people have said that, and I can see why. You know, you see a guy up there with an acoustic guitar and you might think that but Dylan, he is an influence, but he isn’t one of my top, top influences. I think Dylan’s amazing but I prefer Donovan and Don McLean. But, living in the sixties, Donovan was compared to Dylan a lot. And at the end of the day, it’s not exactly a bad comparison is it?

Is it true you dropped out of music college?

Yeah. I finished school and I just wanted to do music. I went for 4 weeks but they were trying to teach ya stuff that wasn’t true. Like one tutor tried to tell us that you won’t get signed unless you live in London. It was just crap like that. So I just used to sit in the library and read a book about The Beatles and not go to any lessons.

So it wasn’t a difficult decision to drop out?

No, only thing was that, obviously, leaving and being unemployed at 16, and you can’t sign on until you’re 18, meant no income. So that was quite hard actually but it’s alright.

How long was it from doing your first gig to getting signed?

I actually started gigging when I was about 15, out doing the circuit round Nottingham trying to get experience. It’s hard at first because, obviously, a lot of places you have to 18 but you start getting your face round a bit and people like ya and that. So, I’d had a lot of experience of playing, developing my skill, and getting used to playing in front of a crowd. Then I was signed at 17, so was a few years.

When you started playing guitar, were you learning loads of covers?

Yeah, yeah. When I was 12 I started playing guitar and I think learning other songs is great because you can see how a song is put together and it teaches ya. But yeah, when everyone starts they all just learn covers.

Which ones did you start with?

I think the first ever cover I learnt was Mad World.

You supported Lana Del Rey, is that right?

Yeah, I supported her like November last year. I picked up a few fans, they were a nice bunch, but I didn’t get to meet her or anything. I also supported Michael Kiwanuka too, which is great. I’d never been out the UK before so to see Italy and germany, for me, that was incredible.

Playing Leeds must feel good.

Amazing. Played Reading yesterday, which was incredible, and when you’re younger and you watch Leeds on the TV you think to yourself ‘I wanna be on there’. Now I’m here and it feels great to be here.

Do you ever come here as a punter?

No, I never did. Never been to any festival as a punter. Not really my cup of tea to be honest. I enjoy playing them though. I think we have to come through the mud to play and iI think the fans like the fact that we do the same as them.

What bands you liking at the minute?

To be honest, I’m not that in to many contemporary bands. There’s just not that many around is there? You’ve still got the Arctic Monkeys putting out singles and stuff.

Your albums out soon then.

Yeah, it’s out on October 15th.

What’s it like?

It’s alright. It’s a mixture of some new songs I’ve done and some I did when I was 15 and 16, so it’s a nice mix. About 14 tracks and the last track was actually recorded as a voice memo on my iPhone, that was the best version that the label heard, so they wanted to put it on as the last track.

Give me your ultimate Main Stage at a festival.

The Beatles, Hendrix, Dylan, Nick Drake, Robert Johnson.

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Posted in: Interviews, Music