When he first came on to the music scene some 10 years ago people were still, Jake Bugg reflects, buying CDs.

Fast-forward to 2023 and while the music world has advanced technologically, there are still some old favourites music fans are devoted to, with Bugg’s music high on that list of what has stayed relevant and popular.

A performance at Glastonbury in 2011 on the BBC’s Introducing stage, where unsigned musicians can show off their skills, led to a recording contract with Mercury Records for Bugg.

The 29-year-old singer-songwriter from Nottingham would transform from a teenager with an acoustic guitar and songs inspired by the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, to being nominated on the Mercury Prize list published in 2013 for his self-titled 2012 debut album.

“It’s drastically changed since I came on to the scene a little bit,” he says when we speak over the phone ahead of him taking to the stage as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.

“People were still buying CDs when I came out, which is a crazy thing to think about, even though it was only like 10 years ago. There’s just so much music getting released every day now. I think the market’s really been saturated.

“It’s very difficult to discover those cool and independent artists that just bring something to the table, because everything’s just kind of filtering more and more into the mainstream these days.”

He adds that “it’s become incredibly difficult for up-and-coming artists to get noticed and to make a career out of it.”

It brings him back to the Edinburgh International Festival, where almost 300 events will take place between August 4 and 27 across the city, spanning music, theatre, dance and comedy, with the programme underpinned by three key themes: community over chaos; hope in the face of adversity; and a perspective that is not one’s own.

“I think that’s why something like the Edinburgh Festival is just absolutely brilliant as well, because it gives people that platform,” he says earnestly.

With his fifth album, Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, released in 2021, Bugg is happy to talk about the new music he is working on at the moment.

“I’m working on a new album, just writing and writing. I’ve got plenty of songs already,” he reveals, adding: “But I just want it to be as good as it can be really. So I’m just taking a little bit more time.”

Albums aside, Bugg is also the songwriter of the theme song for BBC drama Happy Valley (which he has not yet watched but says he has ‘heard brilliant things’ about) and he also wrote music for a film about Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho by filmmakers Andrew and Stuart Douglas, who worked on some of his past music videos.

Aside from it being a dream project for the self-confessed football fan, it also gave him time to explore new genres of music.


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“I had to learn different styles, like samba and bossa nova, I definitely picked up a few inspirational things along the way, whether that will make its way into my music I’m not quite sure yet, but it all helps in some way I believe,” he says.

Bugg, who last year celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the release of his debut album, echoes the concerns of other music big-hitters such as Sting, when it comes to talking about artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on the industry.

Last month The Police star Sting said musicians need to be ready for the rise of AI, describing it as an “interesting time” for copyrights.

Bugg says: “I think it’s going to be a problem, it’s definitely a huge concern. Because at the end of the day, you can have something like AI replicate a sound of yours or a song like yours, and then who’s responsible? It’s very hard to hold someone responsible for that.

“And I think we kind of need to bring as much regulation in as quick as possible… the copyrights are already a concern. So this just adds a whole different dimension that can only be really harmful, I imagine.”

Having spoken previously about experiencing panic attacks before going on stage in an interview with a newspaper last year, Bugg says he thinks “probably some artists go through it at least one time or another”.

He says: “At the end of the day, it’s a high-pressure environment, it’s not just the performing, it’s all the other aspects involved, making the records and doing the promotions.

“It can really take its toll, it can become very tiring and for me, luckily, I was able to get through it and enjoy playing a bit more again, and it’s absolutely fantastic. But it’s something that comes along with it. It’s a very high-pressure career path.”

But it is clear it is a path he is still very much in love with and, judging by his musical successes so far – a number one debut album and chart-topping singles along the way – it is a journey he will be on for a while.

Especially if there are live performances to be had.

“I love performing live,” he says, adding: “It’s a different way of showcasing your music. And as much as I love being in the studio, that’s great, I also love playing live and seeing people’s reactions to the music and how it’s impacted them in some way. And that in itself is very inspiring.

“If there’s a chance to bring any sort of happiness to anyone by playing a live show, that’s the reason why I love to do it.”

Jake Bugg will play Edinburgh International Festival on August 23 at Edinburgh Playhouse; tickets are available now from https://www.eif.co.uk/events/jake-bugg.