In 2015, songwriter Bruce Fielder went from bedroom producer in rural Norfolk to dominating the UK music scene with his trademark blend of house-inspired dance-pop. Two years on, he’s back and ready to share the first single from his upcoming debut album — the tremendous, Paloma Faith-featuring, Lullaby.
“This album is an opportunity for me to show different sides of what I listen to,” he says. “For the people that are Sigala fans, it’s nice for them to have something else to try — a big piece of work to get stuck into.”
There’s certainly an appetite for it: 6 platinum singles and 8 gold singles. 4 million UK sales and 8 million worldwide sales. Bruce has had a ludicrous 800 million Spotify streams, spent 130 weeks in the UK charts and become the number one most played British male on UK commercial radio. With stats like that, how do you even go about handling the pressure of a debut?
“I try not to focus on charts and stats and streams, because as soon as you do you start making music for the wrong reasons,” he replies. “That’s what’s important to me — to just keep doing what I’m doing. One song can literally change your life. That’s what happened to me, I guess.”
It was the Jackson 5-sampling, Easy Love, that first changed Bruce’s life, handing him his first colossal Number One in 2015. “I was in disbelief really,” he laughs. “I thought this was going to be a one off so I’ll make the most of it and enjoy it. I was doing a hundred different things, just trying to pay my rent, living on the dole in some shit flat. I thought, it’ll be a nice story to tell people.”
At the time, Bruce was working as a song-writing gun for hire. He’d enjoyed a taste of success co-writing the track Good Times by Ella Eyre, but had grown uninspired with piecemeal commissions he’d be asked to fulfil. “I was just sick of writing things to other people’s briefs,” he describes. “I was so desperate to make a career out of music but there were so many pressures — the possibility of having to move back to Norfolk with my parents, all this stuff. I just thought, ‘what are you doing?’ I’d rather not be making music than doing this.” Then a six-pack of Desperados changed his life.
“I thought, right, I’ll have a weekend of just doing something for me,” he says. “There was no thought process. I got a bit drunk and Easy Love was what came out — completely naturally.”
Naturally! Follow-up single, Sweet Lovin’ featuring Bryn Christopher was arguably even bigger — a Top 5 original composition that proved Bruce as more than just a mash-up facilitator. “That gave me a bit of confidence,” he says. “I’ve done my ten thousand hours. I’ve sat in my bedroom for years and years, looking at a computer screen. After the second one I had my confidence. If I could do it twice, why couldn’t I do it a bunch of times?”
So that’s what he did. DJ Fresh/Imani collaboration Say You Do followed, as did the huge John Newman and Nile Rodgers featuring Give Me Your Love. At the beginning, Bruce wasn’t even thinking about doing an album. “I was happy,” he admits. “I thought just doing singles was good — focusing all my energy on one piece of music at a time and really getting it right.”
It took some time away towards the end of last year for Bruce to realise that an album might present him with an opportunity to try something different. “I went away to Belgium in November for a month to this studio in the woods in the middle of nowhere,” he describes. “I think I saw about three people while I was there. I just saw it as an opportunity to experiment.”
While keen to stress this is not some self-imposed, Bon Iver-style isolation (“I’m not talking Jeff Buckley!”), he admits that time away from the distractions of London presented him with a chance to shake the pressure of delivering singles to radio. “They’re songs that I’m really proud of and I’m really happy they’re able to see the light of day,” he says. “If I’d just kept releasing singles that would have never happened.”
He continues. “I wrote a few that are slightly slower, more meaning behind them. Different experiences. A bit deeper lyrically. I was experimenting with other instruments, recording live instruments, getting more into synthesis and creating synths. Stuff that I haven’t really had the time to do before.”
In true Sigala style, lead single — the Paloma Faith featuring, Lullaby — came together with the same organic simplicity of that first lightning bolt, Easy Love. “It’s a song that was written quite a while ago and I’ve always liked but it was never finished,” he says.
While Bruce was happy with the chorus, he invited fellow songwriter Jin Jin (Jess Glynne, Tinie Tempah, Clean Bandit, RAYE) to help with the verses and bridge. “She works a lot with Jess Gynn, so suggested it would be cool if I met her,” he says. “Jess came by the studio, we played her the song and she instantly came up with the second half of the chorus. There’s been a lot of love gone into it. People coming in and just vibing. Not really worrying about anything other than ‘lets make it good’.”
The final piece of the jigsaw came when a friend happened to mention that he knew Paloma Faith’s management. “I thought, oh, my god, I hadn’t thought of her,” Bruce says. “I’ve always loved her voice and it’s really important for me to use really unique and signature vocalists. When Palmoa came up, I thought she definitely has one of those voices where you know it’s her.”
Together they rewrote the lyrics, to suit a singer currently enjoying her first taste of motherhood. “She’s very much in baby mode at the moment. She’s had a kid, she’s loving that. So instantly the whole lullaby theme drew her in and we wrote a few lyrics that were a bit more in that world. It seemed like the perfect song at the perfect time.”
And it could be for Sigala too. While Bruce has more than proved himself as an artist capable of crafting a sound that can be enjoyed as much in the club as it can listening to Spotify at home, upcoming album, Lullaby, reaffirms him as a songwriter in the truest sense — adept at showing off different sides to his musical talent.
“It’s not all about me,” he says, with characteristic modesty. “I feel like my role is just bringing people together and trying to create something cool. There’s a great feature on most of the new stuff on the album. People that I already know and it’s great to finally have something to put them on, as well as newer people too.
“I’m just trying to make something that is true to me and people who like my music are going to like,” he continues. “I love listening to whole albums. Albums that take you on a journey, that you can stick on and immerse yourself in. I guess that’s something I wanted to do as well.”