Jake Bugg: ‘I owe a lot to where I’m from for the person I am today’

Named after Alan Sillitoe’s best known novel, Jake Bugg’s new record Saturday Night, Sunday Morning is a homage of sorts from one working class Nottingham writer to another.

Jake Bugg

Bugg’s fifth album, it also marks a step away from the retro-styled rootsy sound of his early releases towards more contemporary pop terrain.

As far as the Sillitoe connection goes, the 27-year-old singer-songwriter remembers being wowed by the film adaptation of the novel, made in 1960 and starring Albert Finney, when he saw it as a child. “I know the book is amazing and he was a brilliant writer, I definitely will be reading some more of his work,” he says.

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“It’s such a legendary book and him being a writer from Nottingham, because of the journey I had I wanted some memory of my home town in there, and yes, the title seemed pretty apt for the album as well.”

The title also alludes to the two different moods of the album – the ‘Saturday Night’ songs being more upbeat and danceable while the slower ‘Sunday Morning’ tracks are, Bugg says, “for the hangover the next day”.

“Something that I really wanted to create with this record was something with a little bit more energy and a bit more tempo,” he says. “Especially with the last record that I put out (Hearts That Strain), it was a relaxed country folk album. With this album I really wanted to inject some more energy into my catalogue and into the live set as well.”

Having grown up on the Clifton estate, five miles south of Nottingham city centre, Bugg remains keenly aware of how much the city shaped both himself and his songwriting.

“It’s a big part of who I am,” he says, “especially growing up in a working class environment on a big estate, it’s a lifestyle and it definitely shaped me growing up. I think it’s quite evident in my early releases and my first album how much of an impact it had on me as a person and my songwriting.

Jake Bugg

“Obviously I have a very different life now (in London) but I owe a lot to where I’m from for the person I am today.”

While not touring in the past year, he has made several trips back to the East Midlands. “It’s nice to have that connection with family and play football with my mates, just normal things that I did when I was younger,” he says.

After a period of slight creative drift with his past two albums, On My One and Hearts That Strain, Bugg seems to have regained his mojo with the new record and change of label.

“I was quite fortunate early on when I wrote some of the first group of songs with Andrew Watt,” he says. “I felt like I’d just struck a different sound. It was quite lucky, really, because that was kind of the basis for the sound of this record. I thought that I’d be having to search a lot longer for something that I was happy with.

“I’ve experimented again with this album but I think to a much higher level than I did with the third album and it’s just been great, to be honest. I’ve had more of an open mind and worked with lots of different and many great people and I’ve made a record that I’m really happy with. It’s been a super fun process as well.”

Bugg feels a collaboration with the DJ and production duo CamelPhat on the dance track Be Someone in 2019 signposted his new musical direction. “That helped solidify my vision for bringing my sound into a more modern era, a more contemporary production,” he says.

Exploring the dance world was exciting too. “It was brilliant because it was the one world I didn’t think I’d ever be involved in or ever have the opportunity to participate in,” he says. “To go on stage with them and play Coachella and Ibiza Rocks it felt odd standing there without a guitar, just a microphone, but there was something quite humbling about it.

“Also what I learnt was the audience in the dance scene are so appreciative, they just want to have a good time and I never felt out of place. I thought I would but the audience was so welcoming, I never felt that at all. Also behind the scenes in the dance world, I couldn’t believe how respectful everybody was. In the more rock ’n’ roll band world there’s a lot of egos and ‘my band’s better than yours’ kind of thing, but there wasn’t really any of that in the dance world. I was surprised and it was refreshing.”

During lockdown, Bugg also composed the score for The Happiest Man in the World, a film about the Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho. “It’s something I’ve never done before and it was a brilliant opportunity,” he says. “Luckily I had that to focus on. I think I’d have probably lost my mind a little bit more if I didn’t have that project.”

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning is out on Friday August 20. Jake Bugg plays at O2 Academy Leeds on March 15, 2022 and Hull Bonus Arena on March 17. www.jakebugg.com