Introduction: On My One
Sometimes, it's pretty damn hard to believe that Notts-born singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jake Bugg is still just 22 years old.
Bugg's debut self-titled platter - released back in 2012 - hit number one in the UK and has sold over half-a-million copies to date, while his 2013 follow-up Shangri La also scaled the top five.
Jake's new long-player, On My One, is undoubtedly his most experimental so far, fusing a host of genres.
Folk, indie-dance, rockabilly, blues, country, garage rock and R&B all creep into the mix, not to mention the all-out old school hip-hop of Ain't No Rhyme.
Yet Bugg had no real musical vision for the record when he commenced the writing process over 18 months ago.
"I purposefully tend not to have an idea of what I want to create," he tells us. "I just like to sit down with no idea of what I'm going to make, and then - when I come up with something - I can be surprised at the content that I've managed to conjure up."
On My One, as its title perhaps suggests, is a solo album in every sense of the word, with Jake playing almost all the instruments himself, as well as producing the vast majority of the tracks.
"It was cool to be in the studio with this freedom to try things out and experiment with everything on my own," Bugg explains.
"It was fun. I don't expect to use the same process for every album but, on this one, it was cool to do. Pretty much from day one of making the album, I knew I wanted to do it on my own.
"It was something I felt I had to do for myself, and I thought it was important for my development as a writer as well."
What were the main pros and cons of that single-handed approach?
"The main pro was the fact that I got to try many different things and put different influences into my music that maybe weren't there before," replies Jake.
"The main con was that I spent a lot of time on my own, so it was quite a solitary experience."
For Jake Bugg, who appreciates a vast array of different musical styles - as you'll no doubt pick up from perusing his top 10 record choices - there will always be one genre that towers above all others.
"The blues for me is kind of everything," he enthuses. "It's where all the other genres that I enjoy stem from.
"I just love it because I feel that people who sung the blues like Robert Johnson and Skip James were really expressing themselves and kind of making themselves vulnerable in a way.
"The lyrics are very dark and very interesting, and there's something haunting about it that's always attracted me. I just think that the blues are at the core of all music, past and present."
Read on to discover what's at the core of Jake's music…
On My One is out now via Virgin EMI.
1. Donovan - Fairytale (1965)
“The first one I’ll go with is Fairytale by Donovan, which was one of his first albums. I’ve always liked him. It’s pretty folky, and it’s just a great album with lots of great songs on it.
“I guess I first discovered Donovan when I was getting into more of the folky stuff, just listening to different things. I knew he was famous for Mellow Yellow and Sunshine Superman and those kind of songs - which I’m not the biggest fan in the world of - but the early stuff, for me, just stood out.
“I just thought it was cool that there was one guy that could make really cool songs with just him and his guitar.”
2. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Axis: Bold As Love (1967)
“This is another one from when I was pretty young… and we all know why that’s a good album: because the guitar-playing is incredible.
“When I heard it, there was something exciting and disheartening at the same time, because nobody else can play like Jimi Hendrix and nobody will ever be able to…. so I just enjoy the album for what it is.
“As well as Hendrix being a great guitarist, I don’t think people give his songwriting enough credit. The songs are just amazing on that record.”
3. Judas Priest - Rocka Rolla (1974)
“This is quite a recent one for me. I love it. It’s just such an exciting record. The guitar-playing is pretty cool, and [Rob Halford]’s just got a hell of a voice. I think it’s a fun album to listen to before I’m going out, so I’ll stick it on.
“When I was recording my second album, Shangri La, my guitar player put me onto a few things, and I looked more into different stuff and came across that record. I really like it.”
4. Metallica - Ride The Lightning (1984)
“Still on the metal vibe, we’ll go for Metallica, Ride The Lightning. I love how it sounds like it’s recorded live, and the riffs and the solos are ridiculous. I’ve always been a fan and I love that record.
“Ever since I was young, I’ve always liked Metallica. I first got into them when I started playing the guitar, because you want to play fast when you start! I was probably about 13 or 14 but I could never play that fast. You have to spend a little bit of time working on it, but I never really got around to it.”
5. Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)
“Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is another record from when I was very young. I just think there were so many great songs on it. And I like the dynamics of it, like it has the song Fluff on it, which is just a really nice acoustic tune, but then it’s got all the heavier things, too, and I’m all down for the heavy stuff.
“I love the title track, and I just enjoy the songs on that more than the other [Sabbath records] personally. Ozzy’s voice is just great, isn’t it? It’s a great album.”
6. Vangelis - Opera Sauvage (1979)
“I love that record. It’s a very peaceful record, and something I like to listen to when I chill out and relax. I’ve always been a fan of his work, and he’s written some great music over the years.
“For me, he’s kind of processing classical music in an electronic way. I guess you’d call it new age. Because it’s so intricate and it’s got loads of stuff going on, one piece of music from him can give you a million ideas for your own stuff.
“That was a recent [discovery]. I’ve always been a fan, but that was an album I found recently through the power of the internet.”
7. John Martyn - Solid Air (1973)
“It’s very dark and haunting - his guitar-playing is just incredible and I think it’s an incredible album. It’s something that I always have time to listen to, no matter what’s going on.
“I probably first heard it about five years ago, and I just fell in love with it. I’m a big fan of his anyway, but I love that album because it’s kind of got a similar mood throughout. You can just leave it on and you don’t have to worry about skipping a track.”
8. Nick Drake - Pink Moon (1972)
“I’m think I’m going to go for somebody who was a friend of John Martyn’s and an amazing writer. It’s got to be Nick Drake, Pink Moon.
“For him, it’s very minimal. He created an album that holds your attention for 30 minutes, even though it’s just a guy and his guitar. Every song is interesting and different and really pushing the boundaries of music itself, I think. I have respect for anyone that can do that.
“I’d always heard of Nick Drake and I’d listened to his stuff, but it wasn’t something that struck me at first - but it did the more I listened to it. It was more of an acquired taste for me, and I think the album Bryter Layter was the one that got me going back to the Pink Moon album, and then I grasped what it was about and how amazing it was.”
9. War - The World Is A Ghetto (1972)
“I was introduced to that last year by my friend, Jason Lader, was also one of the musicians on my album, Shangri La. For me, that album was really inspirational for the making of this album [On My One], just because of the grooves and the different rhythms that they had going on.
“I felt that that was something missing from my music, in terms of having something that moved and had a bit of a groove to it. I’d say that one played a big part for me with this album.”
10. Neil Young - Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)
“I don’t really need to say too much about that record - it’s Neil Young, my favourite writer. That song has got so many great tunes on it and ripping guitar solos. There seems to be a theme with these albums - there’s a lot of ripping guitar solos!
“I love that record. Sometimes, with his albums, I don’t want to be conscious or aware of the music. I’ll just put them on and enjoy them for what they are without trying to analyse them or take something away from them or be inspired.
“Neil Young was one of the guys that I was listening to when I first started playing guitar. I’d sit with my uncle and listen to Harvest Moon and Old Man and all those kind of tunes, so I’ve been a fan from pretty early on in my teenage years. It was somebody that I just kept listening to and discovering his records.”