Bugg was born in Clifton, Nottingham, to musical parents who separated when he was young. His father, whose last name was Bugg, was a nurse, and his mother worked in sales, both having previously made recordings. He grew up in the Clifton council estate of Nottingham and started playing guitar at the age of 12 after being introduced to the instrument by his uncle Mark. He also states that his formative musical moment was hearing Don McLean's "Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)" on an episode of The Simpsons. He was enrolled in a music technology course, but by the age of 16 he had dropped out and was writing and performing his own songs.