Jersey Budd is a Leicestershire singer/songwriter who will be playing at Leicester’s O2 Academy in November – he sat down with the Mail to talk about his upcoming gig, the travails of his music career and the state of the UK music industry.
Fresh off the back of the county’s Strawberry Fields Festival last month, Jersey is excited about the future. He kindly gave an audience recently to Mail music writer Annie Lees (pictured, inset) at his home in South Wigston.
It’s been a good year for the Countesthorpe-raised singer/songwriter; some pivotal gigs under his belt, new album in the offing and recently becoming a father to his daughter, Isla.
From playing his first gig at the Tom Thumb in Blaby at the tender age of 16 alongside Tom [Kasabian] Meaghan’s brother John, in his first band, Jersey recalls fondly memories of his childhood. “I am a self-taught guitarist, I clearly remember strumming along to Bob Dylan while my dad sporadically joined in.”
He was brought up on The Beatles, Van Morrison, The Rolling Stones; all rock and roll staples. He always knew he had a talent and it started to blossom at college: “My mate used to teach me a few Beatles chords and it just grew from there really.”
But travelling the long road to get to where he is today has been an arduous journey. Gaining recognition has been in no way instantaneous. For people unaware of him they could be forgiven for thinking he is one in a line of wannabe guitarists hanging off the coat tails of their predecessors.
But this has been a 14-year slog for the most part, gaining respect from musical peers along the way but also dealing with the pitfalls and red-tape that plague the music industry.
“The album Wonderlands came out three years ago and for one reason or another the manager didn’t want to release anything off it, which was frustrating, so I released three EPs just to keep myself ‘in it’.
“We’re in a time now where people don’t want to listen to albums, people will buy the singles and that’s it. So I released the EPs just to keep feeding my music to people really,” explains the 29-year-old.
As a support act for artists such as Kasabian, Turin Brakes and Amy Macdonald, it would appear from the outside the he was revelling in success and all the benefits that come with it; but in actual fact nothing could be further from the truth.
“I toured with Turin Brakes about three years ago and I was on £15 a day. I was starving. If I was 16- or 17-years-old then, it would have been a completely different story. But I was 27. I had responsibilities.
“Having said that I’m not bothered about having huge fame and fortune and all that, I just want respect and to release music that people want to listen to whilst being able to pay the bills.”
Coupled with his musical commitments, Jersey is now the proud father of Isla, born earlier this year, creating a juggling act which he clearly embraces despite having to put the hours in elsewhere.
“I work during the day, just a bit of labouring to keep things ticking over, then obviously I come home to little Isla. I absolutely love it. I’m still rehearsing two or three times a week though, the songs still keep coming.
“Luckily, the songs I’ve released recently I’ve had penned for one or two years so I haven’t actually had to write new stuff, but I could just be pottering around the house and something will pop into my head,
“I’ve got a phone full of songs. We’re moving house later on this year, somewhere bigger where I can have my own studio, then I can really get cracking. But there’s no mad rush though and I’m under no pressure to release the album but I want to strike while the iron’s hot.”
“I’ve just got a booking agent on board too which is really helpful, so he’s getting the tour lined up in November. Obviously there’s a Leicester date in there at the O2 Academy. But then that has its difficulties, I’d absolutely love to take the full band on tour with me but we’re not 17 anymore y’know?
“People have jobs and commitments, so some I’ll do acoustic and some I’ll do full-band. The gig on November 16th at Leicester, that’ll be a full-band gig, as will Nottingham the night before.”
Jersey hit a personal high in March when he performed alongside former school-mates Kasabian and ex-Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher at the Royal Albert Hall for the annual Teenage Cancer Trust gig.
“I met Noel in 2009 in London around my manager’s house, I’d just signed my contract when Serge [Pizzorno, Kasabian guitarist] came in with Noel. We had a bit of a celebration! I’ve been lucky enough to do some great festivals, Glastonbury, Isle of Wight but that gig at the Royal Albert Hall was a personal highlight for me, walking out and seeing all those people.
“I love doing the little gigs but those big gigs, they’re the best. Just a sea of people, a massive sound, it’s unbelievable. Then prior to that I was in New York in January with James Maddock, a singer from Leicester who has been trying to break America for some years.
“He’s doing really well so he gave me the support slot for two nights at the Rockwood Music Hall [in the Lower East Side of Manhatten] which went down really well.”
Jerseys 30th birthday is just days away when he speaks to the Mail, something which he confesses has impacted on his music.
“With age comes maturity, a more mature approach to your songwriting I guess? I don’t notice it but people have commented on it. Like, I’ll sit here and write a silly little song about my daughter, I don’t mean to but I’ll write a lyric or play a chord and it’ll hit me.
“I wrote The Sweetest Distraction for my misses [Kayleigh] too, it wasn’t even the main song on the EP but it has out-sold all the others on iTunes”.
As a conversation about the possibility of an album of ballads and love songs ensues, we address the subject of modern music and the frustration it brings.
“I’ve done the rock ‘n’ roll thing y’know, and yet it’s the love song that’s been the most popular, so I joked to the lads about doing an album of love songs. Not in all seriousness though. I’m a realist and I know what sells, but you have to do what’s right for you. We live in a time of manufactured music that’s tailored to sell records, it’s not from the heart, that’s something we rarely see now, music that people make just because they love to make music.
“Artists like One Direction, they aren’t artists, they’re just five pretty boys manufactured and put on a stage. Back in the day you’d have real artists with real lives, problems y’know? And you knew about these problems: complications in their lives and stuff, that’s what drew me to artists like John Lennon.
“Nowadays everything’s squeaky clean with their perfectly polished lives and life just isn’t like that.”
As Jersey sets off for his Monday night jog, it’s clear that his level-headed approach to making music and sheer love for what he does has kept him completely grounded. For a brief second you see the flicker of pride in him as he evaluates what he has done, which is immediately counterbalanced by the need to remain focussed.
And for all the great things he has already achieved this is surely only the beginning of greater things.
You can catch Jersey at the O2 Academy in University Road, Leicester, on Saturday, November 16.
Tickets are available online Jersey Budd O2 Academy tickets.
You can also follow Jersey on Twitter, @jerseybudd.
Album and EPs are available to download from iTunes now.
Interview by the Mail’s online music writer Annie Lees, of Fleckney (pictured, inset).
Follow Annie on Twitter, @Annie_beth.