Being famous is awesome and all, but it’s not all beer and skittles.
Jake Bugg made a number one record when he was 18 in 2012, and since then he’s been dealing with the fallout. His self-titled debut album has sold well over half-a-million copies in the UK alone, and his supposed dating of Cara Delawotsit made him a choice whipping boy for the notoriously flesh-hungry British press. Adolescence’s a hell of a drug, and one can only speculate how shit it must be to be feeling hormonal and grumpy when you’re getting ordered around to gigs, interviews and events for a living – which is basically what musicians do. Telephone interview’s suck for a number of reasons. First off, talking on the phone to strangers is just about the most impersonal thing ever. You gain absolutely no information as to what they’re like, and if you ask them where they are, what they’re doing, and what they’re wearing, then you sound like a complete freak and get them offside immediately. When you do a ‘phoner’ with someone famous like Jake Bugg you get put on hold while he’s answering questions from another media source, likely asked by someone who’s done more research than you have and isn’t drinking wine at home wearing their girlfriend’s pyjamas (because she’s working late and they’re far comfier). When you get to hang out with an interviewee, they gradually get comfortable with you and usually lower their guard enough to actually start talking candidly. Sometimes. When you’ve got a designated 20 minute interview, the artist’s guard is at its peak, and you’re unlikely to get anything interesting out of them. The icing on the proverbial shit-cake is that you then have to listen back to your nasal, long-winded questions that are filled with, “umms,” and try and write the damn thing. Jake, I apologise.
When I ask Jake whether the worst thing about being famous is answering tedious phone calls from people like me, he rolls off, “That’s exactly right,” with a wry chuckle, and then adds, “but it’s not too bad when all of the questions aren’t the same.” Gulp. His new album that he’s plugging, ‘On my One,’ is the first of his three records that he’s written the entirety of himself. He’s been criticised for what some might consider ‘inauthenticity’ for producing music with other songwriters, but Jake maintains that it’s just a rite of passage for him considering he’s 22 and has just released his third album. “I think it’s all about the songs themselves to be honest, I don’t really think it matters who wrote them. But now it’s done it’s just sitting and waiting to see how it’ll be received. It’s anxious times for sure.” I ask him why musicians are so touchy about people being educated in the art. “There’s a lot of pretentiousness and looking down on you in the music world,” he explains. “I think that all musicians have studied at some point, even if it’s something as simple as someone recommending a record or an artist. Learning’s just passing on pieces of information isn’t it?”
While everyone’s been going wild over the Radiohead album, Jake’s been listening to soul music. “I’ve listened to a few tracks off the record, but it just sounds like Radiohead doesn’t it. Bleak and miserable,” he says. “While I was in the studio I was listening to lots of Leroy Hudson, and this really great record by a band called War; yeah going through a big soul stage.” Jake’s coming to Australia in July for Splendour in the Grass, and three side shows have been added in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. While he mightn’t be the easiest person to have a phone conversation with, you can’t fault Jake on his honesty. And jeez, it’s nice to talk to someone under the age of 25 who’s not too insecure to have an opinion.