Sigala is the musical nom de plume of Bruce Fielder, a London-based house DJ, producer, and remixer. Born and raised in Norfolk, England, Fielder began piano as a child, and played in various bands after graduating university. He found work as a producer, and co-wrote Ella Eyre and Sigma’s 2015 U.K. hit single “Good Times.” His first solo single as Sigala was “Easy Love,” an energetic house tune built around a sample of the Jackson 5’s iconic hit “ABC.” Released by Ministry of Sound, it entered the U.K. singles chart and shot up to number one in its second week. Fielder’s second single, “Sweet Lovin'” (featuring singer/songwriter Bryn Christopher), hit number three and was certified gold or platinum in several countries. Several more hits followed in 2016, including “Say You Do” (featuring Imani and DJ Fresh), “Give Me Your Love” (featuring John Newman and Chic’s Nile Rodgers), and “Ain’t Giving Up,” a collaboration with Craig David that appeared on his sixth album, Following My Intuition. In 2017, Sigala co-produced the single “Show You Love” with Danish DJ Kato, sung by Hailee Steinfeld. He then paired with singer Paloma Faith for the 2018 single “Lullaby.” Also in 2018, Sigala brought together ten of his previously released singles, as well as a handful of album tracks, to make up his debut studio album, Brighter Days.
So your first proper breakthrough into the music industry was in 2015! Can you tell us about your journey before that?
I moved to London about 5 or 6 years ago when I was about 19. I studied music at college in Norfolk where I was born. There wasn’t much of a music scene in Norfolk so it was quite difficult to get heard or to get my music anywhere, and to even meet people who could help me. I gave up my job in Cash Converters which was really difficult haha! I went to University of Westminster up in Harrow and I done a 3 year course which was okay. The main thing I got from it was the contacts because it’s obviously really difficult to teach people what the music industry is like as it changes so much. The only way to really know is to jump in and find out for yourself. I left university knowing a few people; one person led to another and I met my manager. It took about 2 and a half years after leaving university to find management. It was a really tough time to try and live off just making music. I was living in a horrible little flat that was basically falling apart. It was probably the cheapest flat in London- 275 pounds a month which was crazy. Luckily I was able to survive off doing a bit of production work where I could get it. My dad would call me every week asking if I had a real job, telling me I need to get a job. So yeah, in the end I met my manager and they hooked me up with a studio and things started from there really and I started writing music for other people. I was doing that for about 2 years and started to get a bit boring after a while as I was restricted to the confines of their sounds I guess. At that point, I wanted to do something for myself and that was when I made ‘Easy Love’. That was the first time in a couple of years I made a piece of music entirely for myself and not even for anyone to hear to be honest. I made the track in my bedroom on a Sunday evening after a few beers; I just made it for fun.
Who were your main inspirations when you first started producing as Sigala?
When I first started producing, the tropical house thing was happening so I took some influence from that side of things but not too much. I kind of took the bits that I liked and took some influence from soul and funk music, even disco. With production, I guess I get inspired by things that are happening at that moment, like people on the radio and things like that. It’s difficult to explain because it just happens. Especially with ‘Easy Love’ because that was one I didn’t think about at all. I hadn’t made a record like that before and there was no real influence.
Where did your DJ name Sigala originate from?
It’s an old family name actually; one of my great-great-great grandfathers and his surname was Sigala.
Sum up your style of music in one sentence.
Funky, Caribbean, disco and tropical haha!
What do you think is the single most important contributing factor to your success as an artist?
I think the fact that I write and produce all my own music has helped, a shocking number of artists don’t have any involvement in the creation of their music. Plus, I think I am good at telling if a song I’ve written is good or not -even if I’m emotionally attached to it. I always try to be un-biased.
The list of collaborators and co-writers on the album is endless. That must complicate things quite a bit?
Massively. The more people who are involved in a song, the more difficult it becomes to get it out. It’s not necessarily the artist themselves, it’s more that every artist has their own team of managers, their label, publisher… I’ve worked with artists who are on a label that’s a rival to mine, we were really excited about [the song] but the labels say no. There’s a lot of politics behind the scenes, it’s mad. It’s the same with any artist, I’m not complaining – I know how it goes. I try and not get too involved in that side of things, if a track doesn’t work out I just move on. It’s not always stressful though, most of the time it’s actually pretty easy and very fun.
Be honest, which song on the album do you think you absolutely nailed?
Probably the Kylie collaboration [What You Waiting For]. I had a version of the song for ages that was a really obvious Sigala-sounding thing. It was too obvious – a real balls-out pop song – so I completely changed it up and reproduced the whole thing. I went back to the chilled summer songs I was listening to a few years ago – Duke Dumont’s I Got U, Alex Adir’s You Make Me Feel Better – so the song has a real nostalgic feel for me. It has a special place in my heart.
You now have a string of hits under your belt; does the weight of expectation grow with every release?
There’s been expectation from my first single, so it’s not so much that, it’s more my own perfectionism. I won’t let anyone hear anything until it’s done, and my idea of done is very different to my team’s idea of done. I’m that person who will spend days working on two seconds of music and making sure it sounds right. I think I have a problem in my brain. For [Ella Eyre collaboration] Came Here For Love, there were 207 versions. No-one else but me could hear the differences after the hundredth mix. Still, ultimately I’m the one who’s going out there and playing it!
How have you managed to keep yourself grounded amidst such sudden success?
I think just the fact that it has been a lot of hard work, I’ve done the grafting and horrible jobs that I hated, and having done those things and trying to achieve something now that I’ve started getting to the point where I want to be I really value it. I’m really careful not to take it for granted and I think that keeps me fairly grounded.
What’s your secret do you think, in terms of writing music that people just really want to get behind?
I think my outlook is to make positive music as people like to connect with that and also radio stations love to play positive music. People who are driving to work in the morning don’t want to hear something that’s going to depress them, they want to hear something that’s going to wake them up and get them ready for the day. I really want to have that impact on people – maybe if someone’s feeling down they’ll listen to one of my songs and it might cheer them up, and that’s a really powerful element to have in a song. That’s important to me. I find that if I really enjoy making a song people tend to enjoy listening to it – obviously I make tons and tons of songs and I can tell those which give me that feeling and really uplift me, and nine times out of ten that usually translates to other people as well. I try and go with my gut.