Music: Serendipity


msic-jake-buggTalking with Jake Bugg.

By Lindsey Lowe Osborne

For me, it happened when I was in the ninth grade. I decided to join the yearbook staff on pure whim—I liked to write, and I was good at it, and my best friend was joining the yearbook staff, so—on a whim—I did, too. I like to imagine that writing would have found me some other way if I hadn’t applied to the Lion staff that day, and maybe it would have. But because I did, that moment changed my life: It’s because of that day that I eventually wound up hunched over a pile of B-Metro drafts, red pen in hand, feeling like this is what I was meant to do.

For Jake Bugg, it happened when he was watching The Simpsons. The song was “Vincent” by Don McLean, and it changed Bugg’s life. “I loved it, but didn’t know why and it inspired me to find out more,” the English singer-songwriter says.

Bugg, 23, was born in Nottingham to musical parents. He says that his path to a musical life seemed predetermined—it’s all he’s ever known and all he’s ever wanted. “It’s all I know how to do, really. I never considered having another job, apart from maybe playing football at one stage, but music is my passion and it’s all I want to do,” he says. “I love recording the most. The studio is my natural home and by making records I get to travel the world and meet the fans.”

He began playing gigs at age 14, and by 16, he’d played more than 120. “I met my future manager in Nottingham who had a recording studio and from there I signed a deal and the whole thing fell into place,” he explains. “It was hard work being on the road so much, but it’s the life I wanted so I’m lucky it worked out for me, and so quickly.”

Bugg released his eponymous first album in 2012; the album reached No. 1 on UK charts. It was followed by Shangri La in 2013; On My One in 2016, which was largely self-produced; and his most recent, Hearts That Strain, this year. Bugg says that each album has had a different purpose for him. “It helps me communicate,” he says. “Sometimes it’s easier to tell a story by writing the song than actually talking about it. If people like that, then great, but I write from the heart first and foremost.” Indeed, his songs have an autobiographical nature: In “On My One,” Bugg sings, “I’m just a poor boy from Nottingham….”

“I like to change it up on each album,” he continues. “On album one, I was writing about escaping where I came from and that was a collection of songs, some demos, some produced. [Shangri La] enabled me to work with a fantastic studio band in [Los Angeles] with Rick Rubin. With [On My One], I wanted to work on my own, and produce my own record. [Hearts that Strain] was about working in Nashville with great players in one of my favourite cities and being inspired by that.”

It’s no wonder the world immediately took to his sound—he was 17 when he released his first album, but his songs have a depth to them that both rubs the shine off the world a bit and polishes it up. He masters the coffeehouse singer-songwriter mold with “Somebody Told Me” while simultaneously busting it with “Seen It All.” He’s rock and roll and gentle melody all in the same heartbreaking moment—I bet you’ve already heard him, but if you haven’t, you’re wasting time reading this story.

The good news is that I’ll end here so you can spend the rest of your day exploring Jake Bugg’s discography (and maybe watching The Simpsons. You never know.) One more thing: Bugg is playing the Lyric Theatre on Dec. 15. 

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