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Nottingham Castle

Jake Bugg's Music Video Director Michael Holyk

15 July 16 words: Jared Wilson

"I still remember being at the hotel room at 4am and between me, Jake and Mark (his tour manager) none of us had Rizla for a jazz cigarette"

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When did you start making films?
My first music video was for my A-Level coursework at Bilborough College. It was for a song by a band called Black Dahlia, Hollywood Undead. It’s on YouTube somewhere now with nearly 8m hits. It got mistaken for the real thing and took off with a load of emos in the States.

Apart from Jake, what other famous faces have you worked with?
I’ve directed videos for Sam Smith, Gabrielle Aplin, Jack Garratt, Benga, Liam Bailey, Ady Suleiman, Sundara Karma, Nimmo and Coasts. I did a mad job a couple of years ago when I was directing for MTV India in Bollywood for a few months. That was insane.

I did a stint at the BBC from the age of eighteen, starting as an intern at Radio 1 and 1Xtra and then moving to BBC Nottingham full time. I’ve pretty much worked all my life, thinking about it. I also did a couple of random short films with my cousin, Scorzayzee, when I was sixteen.

Will you always do music videos?
I hope so. Naturally, progression is through promos into adverts, but I’m keen to always be working in music somehow.

What do you watch at home?
Everything. I just finished House of Cards on Netflix and I thought it was brilliant.

Anything else you want to say?
I really want to start a film festival up in Notts. My work started via Bang Film Festival and it’s a shame not to see it there anymore.

The Videos

Someone Told Me
“This was one of the first music promos I made. I met Jake at BBC Nottingham through Dean Jackson and BBC Introducing. I dropped him a message and Jason, his manager, invited me down to the studio in Colwick. I had no idea how well Jake would do, but I got an immediate vibe that this kid – and he was only a kid then – would do well. The idea was simple for this video; to capture the vibe of the early recordings in the purest way. I think I captured something beautiful in this video.”

Lightning Bolt
“The big single. Still my highest hitting music video to date, shot while Jake was supporting Michael Kiwanuka in Europe. We shot in Amsterdam where I took misery guts out in the city. I still remember being at the hotel room at 4am and between me, Jake and Mark (his tour manager) none of us had Rizla for a jazz cigarette. It was Queen’s day too which made life painful trying to shoot. Again – this was just me, Jake and my camera. Jake told me he hated music videos and wanted to do cartoons so he didn’t have to be in them.”

Trouble Town
“Myself, Jake, Jason and a load of kit in my Fiat Stilo pulling up and shooting ad-hoc. This was my first bit of money from a record label for a video – pretty exciting. Again, this video captures the proper mood of Jake and his first album. It’s unforced and in a documentary style that I still hold onto now. I was shooting with a super 8 camera for the first time. That became a running theme with Jake’s content. I was using it out of my car and I swear to God a group of teens thought I was holding a gun.”

Messed Up Kids
“The tour diary version of this video is something that was created out of a bigger documentary piece I’ve been collating since Someone Told Me. It’s archive footage from all the tour dates I’ve travelled with Jake, which is a lot. I’m not sure what’s happening with the documentary that’s waiting in the wings, but it’ll surface one day. It’s a great document of a young nobody artist from a council estate in Clifton travelling to gigs on a bus, to eventually having his own tour bus. Pretty mad to see in its rawest form.”

Gimme The Love
“After a year of no contact, I got a call saying Jake wanted me to direct the first single off his second album. The video idea was a barrage of dark imagery to represent the big, dark cloud on his album artwork. I went round to his, bounced around ideas, then went off and developed them. For the first time, Jake wanted a say in his visual style. The lead reference for this was a Wu-Tang Clan promo which seemed nuts at the time. He had clear direction and we spoke about his performance without his comfort blanket – his guitar. Everyone was a little nervous, but one take in and we were happy.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Love, Hope and Misery
“One reference led this entire piece – a Bill Withers live TV performance video. That's all they wanted. I pushed to shoot on 16mm and we did. The colours and tone are so beautiful. I think Jake ended up spending more time outside having a fag than performing, but we got there in the end. It’s funny because over the five years he hasn’t changed one bit towards me. And he still hates being in music videos.”

Michael Holyk website

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