Melodic acoustic folk
Ones To Watch - Jake Bugg

A man watches longingly as a beer keg descends into a cellar. He hammers in taps, then goes upstairs to a thriving pub, where a diverse crowd enjoy summer vibes. A plaintive acoustic song plays - you’d be forgiven for thinking it was by ’60s troubadour Donovan. But it isn’t. This is the new TV ad for Greene King IPA ale, and its sweet soundtrack is courtesy of Jake Bugg.

The eighteen-year-old is currently enjoying nationwide exposure following a growing reputation after an earlier televisual epiphany. “Up until about twelve-years-old I had no interest in music,” he says, “then I heard one of Don McLean’s songs on an episode of The Simpsons. I just seemed to really like it and I couldn’t understand why. I thought, ‘I want to be able to play songs like that.’”

Acquiring a guitar soon after, he taught himself the basics while investigating further the great lineage of singer-songwriters, and attempting to write his own music. “I wasn’t a great player or a great singer, so I tried to develop my words and come up with songs, but they were awful,” he laughs. Thankfully, things improved. His scratchy demos attracted the attentions of Mercury Records, who released those raw efforts instead of re-recording. The Johnny-Cash-meets-The-Coral ‘Lightning Bolt’ was heralded Hottest Record In The World by Zane Lowe, while ‘Country Song’ is, as explained, all over your telly. ‘Troubled Town’, meanwhile, pleads for escape from the everyday grind of a council estate.

Proving prophetic, Jake’s rising star just took him out of Britain for the first time, supporting Michael Kiwanuka on tour. “When I was at school I just wanted to travel and play music, and I’ve been given that opportunity and I’m very grateful for it,” he says. “I won’t take it for granted.”

Words by Simon Harper
Photo by Samuel John Butt

Where: Nottingham
What: Melodic acoustic folk
Get 3 songs: ‘Someone Told Me’, ‘Lightning Bolt’, ‘Saffron’
Unique fact: Jake met hero Don McLean after the latter’s Sheffield gig, but didn’t know what to say.


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