||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2013)|
Ben Watt by Edward Bishop
|Birth name||Benjamin Brian Watt|
6 December 1962 |
Marylebone, London, England
|Origin||Barnes, London, England|
|Genres||Alternative rock, new wave, sophisti-pop, techno, house, electronica, drum and bass, oldschool jungle, trip hop, folk rock|
|Occupations||Musician, singer-songwriter, DJ, producer, remixer, record label owner, radio presenter|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, synthesizer, piano, organ, turntable, programming|
|Labels||Cherry Red, Blanco y Negro, Sire, Warner Bros., Atlantic, Virgin, Buzzin' Fly, Strange Feeling|
|Associated acts||Everything but the Girl|
- 1 Early life
- 2 Recording artist
- 3 DJ and remixer
- 4 Writing
- 5 Radio presenter
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Discography
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Watt was born in Marylebone, London and grew up in Barnes, the son of jazz musician Tommy Watt and showbusiness writer Romany Bain, and has four half brothers and sisters. He is the youngest of the family.
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.
Watt released his first solo album since 1983, Hendra, on 14 April 2014, the content of which was recorded with Bernard Butler, formerly of the band Suede—Watt explained that he knew that Butler would be the "perfect counterpoint to bring some darkness to the light." Watt also worked with Berlin-based producer Ewan Pearson and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. The album is released on a new record label, titled "Unmade Road", founded by Watt in 2014.
In February 2014, Watt played two live shows with Butler at London's St Pancras Old Church, in the lead-up period to the release of Hendra. Watt and Butler then completed an eight-show UK tour in support of the album during April, including shows in Hebden Bridge, Cambridge and at the Nottingham venue "The Bodega".
DJ and remixer
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.
Buzzin' Fly (2003-2013)
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, Mademoiselle Caro & Franck Garcia, and Rodamaal. The label hosted Watt's own club productions, such as Lone Cat and Pop A Cap In Yo' Ass (with Estelle), 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. 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."
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. Even though Buzzin' Fly is partially closed and Watt no longer DJs, he continues as a respected figure in London's club scene.
Strange Feeling Records (2007-2013)
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.
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.
Neighbourhood and Cherry Jam
||This section of a biography of a living person does not include any references or sources. (April 2014)|
Watt is a co-founder of the West London nightclubs 'Neighbourhood' and 'Cherry Jam'. Under Watt's creative direction, between 2002 and 2005, Cherry Jam hosted underground club nights, art exhibitions, the long-running spoken word event 'Book Slam' and The Libertines' official debut show.
At Neighbourhood, Watt brought in artists such as Groove Armada and many international DJs to perform at his own in-house club nights. Watt also hosted the 25th Anniversary of the Rough Trade Records music label and the inaugural 'House Music Awards' ceremony. Watt resigned as co-founder in June 2005.
Watt's autobiographical book Patient (Penguin, 1996) describes Churg-Strauss syndrome, a rare life-threatening auto-immune disease that he was diagnosed with. 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.
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 in the interview:
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.
The memoir, Romany and Tom, was published by Bloomsbury in February 2014. Watt discussed the book, in addition to the breadth of his musical career, with UK music website "The Mouth Magazine" in late February 2014 and explained the difficulty of the book's preparation process: "The only difficulty was marshalling all the information and finding the right structure to help kick-start it. That in itself took a long time. It was only when I worked out how to structure the final third of the book that I really got going ... Factually, there was a lot of checking and double-checking to do."
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."
Watt recorded a "6 Mix" for BBC Radio 6 in mid-April 2014, in which he "explores the music from his DJ travels, through down-tempo and deep house music, via upfront leftfield electronic pop interspersed with a few classics from his personal collection." The mix includes popular artists The Clash, Stevie Wonder and Nick Drake.
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 together, 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.
Singles and EPs
- "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)
- "Hendra / Romany & Tom" Sampler of album and book (May 2014, http://noisetrade.com/benwatt/ben-watt-hendra-romany-tom)
Compilations mixed by Ben Watt
- 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)
- "INTERVIEW: BEN WATT". M Magazine. PRS for Music. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- http://benwatt.com/work/books/romany-and-tom |accessdate=25 April 2014
- "Girl trouble". The Observer. 12 September 1999. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
- Times article 2 March 2007 Everything but the old man Accessed 15 April 2010[dead link][dead link]
- "Style Council, The – Café Bleu". Discogs. Discogs. 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- Laurie Tuffrey (19 February 2014). "WATCH: Ben Watt & Bernard Butler - Hendra". The Quietus. The Quietus. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
- "Unmade Road". Resident Advisor. Resident Advisor Ltd. 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
- Molloy Woodcraft (13 April 2014). "Hendra review – Ben Watt's first solo album in 30 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
- "Interview: Ben Watt on his album and tour with Bernard Butler". The Nottingham Post. 17 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
- "4:54 PM". Ben Watt on Twitter. Twitter. 19 April 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
- "Various – Lazy Dog - Volume 2". Discogs. Discogs. 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- DeepDownUR2 (15 September 2011). "Justin Martin - The Water Song [Buzzin' Fly, 2006]" (Audio upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- Robin Murray (24 April 2013). "A Fond Farewell: Buzzin' Fly". Clash. Clash. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- Mohson Iqbal (31 July 2006). "Rodamaal/Lephtee - Buzzin' Fly Volume III - The Special Remixes EP". Resident Advisor. Resident Advisor Ltd. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- "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.
- "Spotify Playlist: Buzzin' Fly Records Special From Ben Watt". The Quietus. TheQuietus.com. 5 March 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- Wendy Roby (11 May 2010). "Tracey Thorn Love and Its Opposite Review". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- Times article. 2 March 2007 Accessed 15 April 2010[dead link][dead link]
- "Biography". ebtg.com. Everything But The Girl. 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- "INTERVIEW BEN WATT". The Mouth Magazine. The Mouth Magazine. 23 February 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
- Ben Watt (18 April 2014). "6 Mix" (Audio upload). BBC Radio 6. BBC. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
- "Girl trouble". The Guardian. 12 September 1999. Retrieved 13 June 2013.