‘If I didn’t have music, I’d probably be insane by now’ – Jake Bugg talks new songs and lockdown

By Jonathan Rose
May 22 2020, 14.00

There’s nothing rock ‘n’ roll about a lockdown. In fact, if a global pandemic ever beckoned the end of the human race, one would hope we’d go down in a Jon Bon Jovi blaze of glory, not binge-watching Normal People with our feet up on the sofa.

But for Jake Bugg, music has offered a place of solace, a sanctuary from the fallout that has seen modern life grind to an abrupt halt. And he’s released just a little bit of that warmth to a broken world.

Seeing out the lockdown on his own in west London where he moved to be close to Heathrow Airport, Jake describes how it’s nice to stay in one place for a while and he doesn’t mind being alone.

“I like a lot of time to myself and I like space.”

Although struggling with concentration and missing the road, his fans and the band, Jake’s got the most important thing in life.

“I’ve got music to keep me going and I’ve just been focused on that and writing every day.”

“Music is one of the few things we have in lockdown that can keep us calm when we are feeling down, but also uplift us and dig into those emotions I think.

“If I didn’t have music, I’d probably be insane by now.”

His new track ‘Saviours of the City’ oozes apocalyptic vibes and he seems, as always, unafraid to expose his emotional vulnerability. All Bugg needs, and all he will ever need, is his voice and a guitar.

“I originally wrote it with my friend Robert from ONR. and even before what’s happening now, the lyrics were about the way everything was going in the world, where it was heading and how it was going to end up,” he said.

“We did the track and didn’t really think much of it. This kind of came about and it resonated with what is happening now, so it was a good track to put out I guess.”

There’s something strangely old, but invigoratingly new, about Jake’s songs since signing to RCA Records, owned by Sony Music, in 2018.

The 26-year-old said: “The production I’ve been using in these new tracks is very different, but in some of the songs it’s strange how it’s come back round to that sound I had on the first two records.”

Working with producer Andrew Watt (Post Malone, Cardi B), you’d think his latest tracks might sound too pop; turbo-charged ‘Kiss Like the Sun’ proves otherwise. The banger echoes past songs like ‘Lightning Bolt’ and ‘Slumville Sunrise’ that helped launch his career.

Jake might not be a poor boy from Nottingham anymore, hanging out with big names such as Mike D from the Beastie Boys and Post Malone, but he seems to have developed a maturity in his music and beyond.

Asked about how the government has handled the pandemic, he awkwardly laughs and is reluctant to answer. He knows he’s not the best person to comment.

“I think it’s all well everybody saying we should have done it like this, we should have done it like that, but at the end of the day it’s a mad thing we have never really experienced before,” he said.

“I think, yes there are always precautions you could take in hindsight, but you just have to do your very best in the moment and try and do as much as you can right now I suppose.”

The lad from Clifton council estate doesn’t seem the type to rant about politics. He’d much rather ground his music in social commentary.

Jake wasn’t born to be a saviour of these strange times, but he knows his place in a country that owes an unpayable debt to the NHS.

“Everyone has a role to play, to do their part and help each other out,” he said.

“For me personally, I’m not going to have to endure some of the problems that people working on the front line are. It’s very difficult to put myself in their shoes and all I can do is try and play my part really and give people some tunes.”

So what’s Jake been listening to? Surprisingly old Brazilian samba music. It’s difficult to imagine him dancing around in full carnival attire. Perhaps that’s why he says he’s also gone back to Jimi Hendrix B-side’s and Jefferson Airplane.

And the first thing he’s going to do when the lockdown is lifted.

“Everybody knows it’s the pub first.”

Feature photo credit: Sony Music UK Limited

Related Articles