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, 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
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 Thomas Watt (born 6 December 1962) is an English musician, singer, songwriter, author, DJ 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 showbusiness writer Romany Bain,[3] and has four half brothers and sisters.[1] He is the youngest of the family.[4]

Recording artist[edit]

Watt began recording in 1981 on the indie label Cherry Red. His first single 'Cant' was produced by folk-maverick Kevin Coyne. His second release, 1982's 5-track EP 'Summer into Winter' features Robert Wyatt on backing vocals and piano.[5] His debut album North Marine Drive was released in 1983 and reached Number 1 on UK Indie Charts.[6] He then took a fork in the road and joined forces with vocalist Tracey Thorn, with whom he wrote and recorded with for 18 years—together they created nine studio albums as Everything but the Girl (EBTG) after signing to Blanco Y Negro through 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.

Following EBTG's self-imposed hiatus in 2000 - and after more than ten years immersed in the world of electronic music as a DJ and record label owner - Watt returned to his folk-jazz roots and released his first solo album since 1983, Hendra, on 14 April 2014, the content of which was recorded with a new band including 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."[7] 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.[8][9]

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,.[7] Following further tours of North America and Japan, the album won the 'Best 'Difficult' Second Album' category at the AIM Independent Music Awards 2014.[10]

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 later every two months at The End in central London - and attracted a cult following. At the same time 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. Two mix compilations - Lazy Dog Vol 1 [11] and Lazy Dog Vol 2 [12] were released by Virgin Records in 200 and 2001 respectively.

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,[13] Mademoiselle Caro & Franck Garcia,[14] and Rodamaal.[15] The label hosted Watt's own club productions, such as Lone Cat and Pop A Cap In Yo' Ass (with Estelle),[16] 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,[17] and was awarded the Runner-Up Best British Label by the DJ Magazine Awards in both 2007 and 2008.[18] Watt announced the partial closure of the label in an official statement in April 2013.[19]

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.[20] This was followed by her alternative Christmas album, Tinsel and Lights, in 2012.[21]

Neighbourhood and Cherry Jam[edit]

For three years between 2002 and 2005, Watt was 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 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.[22]

Writing[edit]

Watt's first memoir Patient (Penguin, 1996) describes his battle dealing with Churg-Strauss syndrome, a rare life-threatening auto-immune disease with which he was diagnosed in 1992. The book was listed as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Sunday Times Book Of The Year chosen by William Boyd (writer) 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.[23]

His second memoir, Romany and Tom, was published by Bloomsbury in February 2014.[24] In September 2014 it was long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Non-Fiction Prize 2014.[25]

Radio presenter[edit]

In 2006 Watt launched an online radio show that soon moved to the Galaxy Network [26] and then Kiss. In 2010 he moved to the BBC Radio 6 Music's flagship electronic radio show the 6Mix.[27]

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 27 years together, they married in 2008 at the Chelsea Registry Office. Their twin daughters Jean and Alfie were born in 1998, and their son Blake was born in 2001.[28]

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)
  • "Hendra / Romany & Tom" Sampler of album and book (May 2014, http://noisetrade.com/benwatt/ben-watt-hendra-romany-tom)

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 "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. ^ http://benwatt.com/work/books/romany-and-tom |accessdate=25 April 2014
  4. ^ "Girl trouble". The Observer. 12 September 1999. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "Ben Watt with Robert Wyatt - Summer into Winter". Discogs. 
  6. ^ "North Marine Drive (1983)". Pop Matters. 
  7. ^ a b Laurie Tuffrey (19 February 2014). "WATCH: Ben Watt & Bernard Butler - Hendra". The Quietus. The Quietus. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  8. ^ "Unmade Road". Resident Advisor. Resident Advisor Ltd. 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  9. ^ Molloy Woodcraft (13 April 2014). "Hendra review – Ben Watt's first solo album in 30 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  10. ^ "AIM Independent Music Awards 2014". Association of Indpendent Music. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  11. ^ "Various - Lazy Dog Vol 1". Discogs. 
  12. ^ "Various - Lazy Dog Vol 2". Discogs. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  13. ^ DeepDownUR2 (15 September 2011). "Justin Martin - The Water Song [Buzzin' Fly, 2006]" (Audio upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  14. ^ Robin Murray (24 April 2013). "A Fond Farewell: Buzzin' Fly". Clash. Clash. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  15. ^ Mohson Iqbal (31 July 2006). "Rodamaal/Lephtee - Buzzin' Fly Volume III - The Special Remixes EP". Resident Advisor. Resident Advisor Ltd. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  16. ^ "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. 
  17. ^ "House Music Awards 2004 Winners". About Entertainment. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  18. ^ "Spotify Playlist: Buzzin' Fly Records Special From Ben Watt". The Quietus. TheQuietus.com. 5 March 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  19. ^ "All Good Things ...". Buzzin' Fly Records. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  20. ^ Wendy Roby (11 May 2010). "Tracey Thorn Love and Its Opposite Review". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  21. ^ "Tracey Thorn: Tinsel and Lights - review by Alexis Petridis". The Guardian. 
  22. ^ "Ben Watt Interview". Time Out. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  23. ^ "Bloomsbury - Ben Watt". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  24. ^ http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/romany-and-tom-9781408845271/
  25. ^ "Musician Ben Watt makes Samuel Johnson non-fiction list". BBC News Entertainment and Arts. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  26. ^ "The Galaxy Network". Billboard. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  27. ^ "BBC Radio 6 Music - 6 Mix, Ben Watt". BBC. 
  28. ^ "Girl trouble". The Guardian. 12 September 1999. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 

External links[edit]