Ben Watt

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Ben Watt
Ben Watt by Edward Bishop.jpg
Ben Watt by Edward Bishop
Background information
Birth name Benjamin Brian Watt
Born (1962-12-06) 6 December 1962 (age 51)
Marylebone, London, England
Origin Barnes, London, England
Genres Alternative rock, new wave, sophisti-pop, techno, house, electronica, drum and bass, oldschool jungle, trip hop
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter, DJ, producer, remixer, record label owner, radio presenter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, synthesizer, piano, organ, turntable, programming
Years active 1981–present
Labels Cherry Red, Blanco y Negro, Sire, Warner Bros., Atlantic, Virgin, Buzzin' Fly, Strange Feeling
Associated acts Everything but the Girl

Benjamin Brian Watt (born 6 December 1962) is an English musician, DJ, record producer and radio presenter, best known as one half of the duo Everything but the Girl.[1]

Early life[edit]

Watt was born in Marylebone, London[2] and grew up in Barnes, the son of jazz musician Tommy Watt, and has four half brothers and sisters.[1] He is the youngest of the family.[citation needed]

Recording artist[edit]

Watt began recording in 1981 on the indie label Cherry Red, and went on to make the album North Marine Drive, a collection of folk-jazz solo recordings in 1983. He then joined forces with vocalist Tracey Thorn, who he wrote and recorded with for 18 years—together they created nine studio albums as Everything but the Girl (EBTG) after signing to Warners in 1984, and then Virgin in 1995. EBTG's albums and many of their singles achieved UK and US chart success—the song "Missing" reached number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1995.

In the mid-nineties, EBTG shifted their focus from alt-pop towards electronica and achieved chart success with Walking Wounded, Protection (with Massive Attack), Temperamental and other work.[3][dead link]

In 1984 Watt and Thorn appeared as "Honorary Councillors" on The Style Council's debut album Cafe Bleu. Watt played guitar while Thorn sang lead vocals on "The Paris Match".[4]

DJ and remixer[edit]

Lazy Dog[edit]

In 1998 Watt established the London deep house Sunday club and compilation series "Lazy Dog" with Jay Hannan. The club was hosted twice-monthly at the Notting Hill Arts Club in west London and attracted a cult following. Watt moved away from EBTG's mainstream eclecticism and into club-oriented dance music production, producing a string of dance remixes for Sade, Sunshine Anderson, Zero 7, Maxwell, Meshell Ndegeocello and Sandy Rivera. Lazy Dog ended on 16 May 2003 with a farewell closing party at the club's second home The End in central London. A Lazy Dog double-CD mix set Lazy Dog Volume 2 was released in 2001 on the Astralwerks and Virgin Music Canada record labels.[5]

Buzzin' Fly (2003-2013)[edit]

In April 2003, Watt launched his own independent deep house and techno record label Buzzin' Fly (named after the Tim Buckley song). The label proceeded to foster the careers of young and emerging producers/DJs such as Justin Martin,[6] Mademoiselle Caro & Franck Garcia,[7] and Rodamaal.[8] The label hosted Watt's own club productions, such as Lone Cat and Pop A Cap In Yo' Ass (with Estelle),[9] as well as work from remixers such as Ame, Radio Slave, Charles Webster and John Tejada.

Buzzin' Fly won Best Breakthrough Label at the House Music Awards in 2004, and was awarded the Runner-Up Best British Label by the DJ Magazine Awards in both 2007 and 2008.[10] Watt announced in an official statement in April 2013 that Buzzin' Fly would no longer release new music or work with new artists. As of 24 April 2013, the label's office remains open and access to its catalogue continues—Watt explained in an interview with online magazine Clash that the closure is only partial and that he holds the capacity to reactivate the label or start a new imprint. A section of the official statement reads: "I loved every minute, but all good things come to an end. It simply feels like the right moment. Buzzin' Fly was born out of my commitment to the culture of DJing and helping young artists, but these days I am edging away from it towards other challenges—a new book I'm writing, research for another one, and a long-planned solo music project."[7]

Watt also hosted the weekly Buzzin' Fly Radio Show that broadcast its 150th edition. It received lengthy stints on both the Galaxy Network and the Kiss Network, as well as several internet restreams and global syndications.[citation needed] Even though Buzzin' Fly is partially closed and Watt no longer DJs, he continues as a respected figure in London's club scene.[7]

Strange Feeling Records (2007-2013)[edit]

Building upon the foundation of Buzzin' Fly, Watt launched Strange Feeling Records in 2007 as a sister label that would release alternative/indie music. The critically acclaimed Copenhagen band Figurines and the Hungarian trio The Unbending Trees were early signings of Strange Feeling. In 2010 the label globally released and distributed the third solo album Love and Its Opposite by Watt's wife Tracey Thorn on 17 May 2010—the album was the label's fifth release.[11]

As part of the official partial closure of Buzzin' Fly, Watt announced that Strange Feeling will also cease to work with new artists and will remain open for the sole purpose of releasing Thorn's solo material. Watt explained his perception of the record label industry and independent music in 2013 following the official announcement for both labels:

It is cheap to produce music and cheap to distribute it. Anyone can be an artist or have a label. We are wading chest-high through a deluge of music. Of course this is a good thing in some ways. But in other ways it creates huge problems for small labels trying to stay afloat. The competition is fierce. And a lot of the money is in a vast delta of micro-payments from streams these days. Accounting accurately is the single biggest challenge to small labels. In the end, I think the current climate in the dance world suits big aggregator labels who can cope with putting out compilations and paying accountants, and also at the other end the tiny hobbyist labels who handstamp three-hundred pieces of vinyl, but still have day jobs. It is the labels in the middle that have been squeezed the most.[7]

Neighbourhood and Cherry Jam[edit]

Watt is a co-founder of the West London nightclubs Neighbourhood and Cherry Jam. Under Watt's creative direction, Cherry Jam hosted underground club nights, art exhibitions, the long-running spoken word night Book Slam and The Libertines' official debut show between 2002 and 2005. At Neighbourhood, Watt brought in artists such as Groove Armada and many international DJs to perform at his own in-house club nights, in addition to hosting Rough Trade Records' 25th Anniversary and the inaugural House Music Awards. Watt resigned in June 2005.[citation needed]

Writing[edit]

Watt's autobiographical book Patient (Penguin, 1996) describes Churg-Strauss syndrome, a rare life-threatening auto-immune disease that he was diagnosed with.[12][dead link] Watt's website states that the book was listed as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Sunday Times Book Of The Year and Village Voice Literary Supplement Favorite Book of the Year, and was also a finalist for the Esquire-Waterstones Best Non-Fiction Award in the UK.[13]

In an April 2013 interview, Watt revealed he was working on a book looking at the history of his own family against the broader backdrop of Britain. Watt explained that his father was a left-wing Glaswegian jazz musician, while his mother was a RADA-trained Shakespearian actress and the daughter of a Methodist parson—Watt described the concept of the book:

The book is my portrait of their [Watt's parents] lives and marriage, from my own wide-eyed London childhood, through years as an adult with children and a career of my own, to that inevitable point when we must assume responsibility for our own parents in their old age. It's also about the post-war years, ambition and stardom, family roots and secrets, the death of British Big Band jazz, depression and drink, life in clubs and in care homes - and about who we are, where we come from, and how we love and live with each other for a long time.[7]

This memoir, Romany and Tom, is published by Bloomsbury in February 2014. [14] Watt discussed the book with UK music website The Mouth Magazine [1], also reflecting on North Marine Drive.

Radio presenter[edit]

As of June 2013, Watt hosts a show on the BBC 6 Music radio station and explained his musical career in relation to radio in an interview with M magazine: "I have not DJed professionally in clubs for quite a while now. The late nights and travelling take their toll and I didn’t want to fake it. I still enjoying creating sets for my residency on BBC 6Music, mind you."[1]

Personal life[edit]

Watt lives with his spouse and creative partner Thorn in Hampstead, North London, UK. They met at Hull University in 1981 and after 28 years as a couple, they married in 2009 at the Chelsea Registry Office. Their twin daughters Jean and Alfie were born in 1998, and their son Blake was born in 2001.[15]

Discography[edit]

Album[edit]

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • "Cant" (June 1981, Cherry Red)
  • Summer Into Winter EP with Robert Wyatt (March 1982, Cherry Red)
  • "Some Things Don't Matter" (February 1983, Cherry Red)
  • "Lone Cat" (April 2003, Buzzin' Fly)
  • "A Stronger Man" with Sananda Maitreya (January 2004, Buzzin' Fly)
  • "Outspoken Part 1" feat. "Pop a Cap in Yo' Ass" with Estelle and "Attack, Attack, Attack" with Baby Blak (January 2005, Buzzin' Fly)
  • Buzzin' Fly Vol 2 EP feat. "Le Boom" by Justin Martin, remixes of "Lone Cat (Holding On)" by Justin Martin and "Pop a Cap in Yo Ass" by Ben Watt with Estelle (April 2005, Buzzin' Fly)
  • We Are Silver EP includes "Old Soul" and "Lone Cat" remix (April 2007, Buzzin' Fly)
  • "Just a Blip" features on Buzzin' Fly Vol 4 Sampler EP, (June 2007, Buzzin' Fly)
  • "Guinea Pig" (October 2008, Buzzin' Fly)

Compilations mixed by Ben Watt[edit]

  • Lazy Dog Vol. 1 with Jay Hannan (October 2000, Virgin)
  • Back to Mine with Tracey Thorn as Everything but the Girl (May 2001)
  • Lazy Dog Vol. 2 with Jay Hannan (March 2002, Virgin)
  • Buzzin' Fly Vol 1: Replenishing Music for the Modern Soul (March 2004, Buzzin' Fly)
  • Buzzin' Fly Vol 2: Replenishing Music for the Modern Soul (April 2005, Buzzin' Fly)
  • Inthemix.06 with Ivan Gough (Australian release; 2 CDs) (November 2006)
  • Buzzin' Fly Vol 3 (June 2006, Buzzin' Fly)
  • Buzzin' Fly Vol 4 (May 2007, Buzzin' Fly)
  • Buzzin' Fly - 5 Golden Years in the Wilderness (June 2008, Buzzin' Fly)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "INTERVIEW: BEN WATT". M Magazine. PRS for Music. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  2. ^ http://www.findmypast.co.uk/search/all/results?recordCount=-1&forenames=Benjamin&_includeForenamesVariants=on&surname=Watt&_includeSurnameVariants=on&fromYear=1962&toYear=1962&region=&county=&mothersMaidenName=&_useMothersMaidenNameAsSurname=on&sortOrder=RK%3Atrue&_performExactSearch=on&event=B&recordType=ALL&route=
  3. ^ Times article 2 March 2007 Everything but the old man Accessed 15 April 2010[dead link]
  4. ^ "Style Council, The – Café Bleu". Discogs. Discogs. 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "Various – Lazy Dog - Volume 2". Discogs. Discogs. 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  6. ^ DeepDownUR2 (15 September 2011). "Justin Martin - The Water Song [Buzzin' Fly, 2006]" (Audio upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Robin Murray (24 April 2013). "A Fond Farewell: Buzzin' Fly". Clash. Clash. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Mohson Iqbal (31 July 2006). "Rodamaal/Lephtee - Buzzin' Fly Volume III - The Special Remixes EP". Resident Advisor. Resident Advisor Ltd. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "Ben Watt feat. Estelle / 'Pop a Cap in Yo' Ass' (Radio Edit)" (Audio upload). Buzzinfly.com on Soundcloud. Soundcloud. 18 May 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "Spotify Playlist: Buzzin' Fly Records Special From Ben Watt". The Quietus. TheQuietus.com. 5 March 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  11. ^ Wendy Roby (11 May 2010). "Tracey Thorn Love and Its Opposite Review". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  12. ^ Times article. 2 March 2007 Accessed 15 April 2010[dead link]
  13. ^ "Biography". ebtg.com. Everything But The Girl. 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  14. ^ http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/romany-and-tom-9781408845271/
  15. ^ "Girl trouble". The Guardian. 12 September 1999. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 

External links[edit]