Jake Bugg: ‘I was forced to write with other musicians’

British rocker Jake Bugg has told of his frustration after he was forced to work with other songwriters and give them chunks of his royalty payments. The 19 year old raised eyebrows among critics last year (13) when it emerged many of his tracks have been co-written with well-known industry producers.
The revelation threatened to shatter Bugg’s image as a guitar-slinging troubadour, but now he has spoken out to blame record label bosses for forcing him to work with professional songwriters, and insists he would have struggled to get a contract unless he agreed.
Bugg even clashed with one producer, former Longpigs rocker Crispin Hunt, over the size of his cut from song royalties.
The Lightning Bolt hitmaker tells Mojo magazine, “The one thing I was adamant about was signing to a major (record label). I knew I needed money to get on the road and make the album I wanted to make. But to sign with a major these days you have to agree to write with other people. I saw other people say ‘no’, and then the label weren’t interested.
“I was… sceptical. I thought about it, but then I decided, Why not? I might learn a thing or two. And the thing is, I have… It’s more of a guide than writing the songs. It has to be my idea. It will be swapping this bit or that bit, or pointing out that really an idea is only half a song.”
Bugg has worked with several songwriters on his first two albums, and he recalls a dispute with Hunt over the division of royalties because he felt the producer’s contribution did not warrant more than a 30 per cent cut of the track’s earnings.
He adds, “What frustrated me was that, when it was done, I knew I could’ve written it myself… He wanted a bigger share. I didn’t feel that was right… But working with Crispin was a good experience and, like all these things, you must take at least one good thing away from it.”