Whether you’re after foodie faves or family fun, you’re a bibliophile looking to meet your favourite author or a music lover listening for the next big sound, the North East has got just the festival for you this summer.
Included in our round-up of some of the biggest and brightest festivals heading our way over the next six months is Hit The North – the North East’s largest inner-city music festival, which is returning to Newcastle from 3rd–5th May with a vast array of incredible artists playing across a whole host of different venues.
And the award-winning singer/songwriter Jake Bugg is one of them. With the largely acoustic, Nashville-fuelled vibe of his fourth album, Hearts That Strain, having now given way to a fresh, more upbeat and certainly more pop-influenced sound, Jake is looking forward to plugging his electric guitar back in for the headlining slot of the festival. We sit down with him to find out more.
Why did you want to be involved with Hit The North?
I’ve always enjoyed playing shows up here, and I think a festival that helps emerging talent and gives young people a platform to have a chance in this industry is definitely something worth supporting.
What’s an inner-city festival like to play, as opposed to an open-air event?
You definitely still feel a part of something bigger. You’ve heard the music around you through the day, and you’ve seen people out having a good time so you know they’re going to be up for it when it’s your turn. And I’d imagine with the slot I’ve got, they’ll be a good few beers in – I probably will be myself, to be honest! It’s just about supporting music and having a good time.
How do you like to spend your time when you’re in the North East?
I’ve been coming here for a few years now, and my manager’s actually from here, so he knows all the good local spots. We’re going to the match tonight, so I hope they win!
You’ll not be used to good results as a Notts County fan.
Yeah, it would be nice to see someone win in black and white stripes! I think it’ll be a good game though, I’m liking the look of your new signings – Almiron looked wicked last week. Anyway I’m getting sidetracked, I could talk about football all day!
The sound of your albums has changed with every release. What can we expect from your next record?
This next one is no exception. I’ve been out in LA and Sweden working with a few pop writers, but I’ve not lost my identity in any way. It’s been a lot of fun trying new things with those guys, so this record is going to be upbeat and a little bit more fun, where the last one [Hearts That Strain] was a lot more chilled. I’ll hopefully have a single out by the start of May, and the record out later in the year.
Are you going to be playing a lot during festival season?
A little bit, although probably more next year. I’m looking forward to Hit The North – I did a lot of acoustic shows last year, and they were lovely, but I’m ready to get the band out now, crack open some beers and plug the electric guitar back in!
Who would you most credit with inspiring you to go into music?
I’d have to say my Uncle Mark. I was into football, and I came back from training one day and he just had a guitar there for me. He knew all the Beatles songs, Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, so he introduced me to all that.
In your opinion, what’s the best album ever?
I think a lot of people would say Pet Sounds [The Beach Boys], wouldn’t they? But there are so many. One that I do like is The Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack. I wouldn’t say it’s the best album of all time, but I love it!
Who are you enjoying listening to at the moment?
I’ve been listening to an American punk band called The Gun Club, and I’ve also gone back to one of my favourite bands ever: Jefferson Airplane. I’ve always got time for a bit of Glen Campbell too, and Post Malone actually as well – I’m enjoying some of his acoustic tunes. He knows his music.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
Probably kicking a ball around somewhere. Not at any decent level, either. Not even for Notts County!
What’s music all about for you?
I always use music as a form of escapism. I didn’t really enjoy my life growing up so much, and when I was younger music was the thing that helped me to forget all about it. So it’s nice to address things happening around you sometimes, but it’s also nice just to write stories, daydream and go off into your own imagination.
Jake will be performing at Newcastle’s O2 Academy as part of the Hit The North festival on 5th May. For more information, visit www.hitthenorthfestival.co.uk