“I can’t wait to come back to T in the Park,” says Jake Bugg, when I ask him which festival he’s most looking forward to playing this summer. “I really enjoyed it last year, and I’m looking forward to getting back on a table tennis table, so we’ll see how that goes.”
Reportedly unbeaten in the ping pong league backstage at last year’s TITP, his laidback attitude to the whole experience pretty much sums up Jake himself. Signed to Mercury Records after playing BBC’s Introducing stage at Glastonbury in 2011, festivals don’t faze him; quite the opposite, in fact.
“For me to be playing Glastonbury at seventeen was a great opportunity and I definitely took something away from that,” he says. “You’re playing in front of a load of people that might have never even heard you before, so it’s a great way for people to be introduced to your music.”
Just two years later and Jake really needs no introduction. His self- titled debut album was released on October 15th 2012 and shot straight to number one, then went one to achieve Platinum status, and was nominated for an NME Award for Best Album. Did he expect this level of success?
“No, not at all,” says Jake. “I just made a record that I wanted to make and I had a lot of fun making it. It did much better than I thought it would, so it’s quite amazing for me, but at the same time it’s happened now and I’ve just got to continue putting music out there for people to enjoy listening to.”
Now that he’s got the UK audience eating from the palm of his hand, Jake has his sights set on that all- important American market… well, sort of. “The response over in the States seems to be quite good so far,” he says. “I played a few shows over there, only with a 500 capacity, but they all sold out. It’s cool.”
Despite attention from both sides of the Atlantic, Jake remains blissfully unaware of the waves he’s making, and assures me he isn’t likely to become “starry” anytime soon. “I just kind of mind my business and get on with what I’m doing; writing my tunes and playing my gigs,” he says. “I don’t really read what’s in the press, it’s just life for me, and I’m just getting on with it.”
But, of course, this doesn’t stop the controversy altogether. His ongoing feud with One Direction, which began when Jake expressed his annoyance at the boyband being hailed as the new Beatles, is still making headlines.
“People are going to like what they like,” he says, when I ask if 1D’s chart success annoys him. “I don’t get annoyed about what people like listening to, but it’s just disheartening for somebody who writes songs to see people who don’t necessarily do that, and don’t even try to write anything, have so much success in the charts. It’s nothing personal whatsoever.”
So that’s that cleared up. Jake also admits he’s not a fan of programmes like The X Factor and The Voice in general. “I think those shows are more popularity contests than talent contests,” he says. “It’s not something that I wanted to do and from watching these shows you notice that the people who win or do well on them don’t always stick around for long.”
Jake is far more forthcoming when it comes to the artists whom he does like, and doesn’t shy away from giving praise where it’s due. “There’s a kid called Joey Bada$$ from New York, he’s pretty good, a cool hip-hop artist,” he says. “But there aren’t many new artists that I’m listening to. From the past there are a couple of records I’ve been playing quite a lot, like Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, some John Martyn… I really enjoy that initial feeling when you discover a new track that you’ve not heard before. It’s quite a big thing.”
And will we be seeing him collaborate with any other musicians in the near future? “I’m just kind of getting on with my own stuff at the moment, but if someone was to approach me and it seemed like a cool thing to do, then why not?” says Jake. “I’m always up for trying things; that’s the way you learn, innit?”
It certainly seems like Jake has learned plenty from his short time in the spotlight. After festival season
is over he heads back to the US for a bigger tour there, immediately followed by a UK and European leg, but he assures me we can expect new material before the end of the year too. “I’m still writing whenever I can, because that’s my favourite bit of what I do,” he says. “Maybe we’ll get something out in between this album and the next one. I just want to put something out there for people to listen to. I like to try and be prolific.” We think you’ve got that one down pat, Jake.
Catch Jake at Glastonbury, T in The Park, Longitude, Reading & Leeds and Benicassim this summer
Win tickets to Reading & Leeds!