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Ben Watt by Edward Bishop
|Birth name||Benjamin Brian Thomas Watt|
6 December 1962 |
Marylebone, London, England
|Origin||Barnes, London, England|
|Associated acts||Everything but the Girl|
- 1 Early life
- 2 Recording artist
- 3 Writer
- 4 DJ, Remixer, Label Owner
- 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 Scottish 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. His first single 'Cant' was produced by folk-maverick Kevin Coyne. His second release, 1982's 5-track EP 'Summer into Winter' featured Robert Wyatt on backing vocals and piano. His debut album North Marine Drive was released in 1983 and reached Number 1 on UK Indie Charts. He then took a fork in the road and joined forces with vocalist Tracey Thorn, with whom he wrote and recorded 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 have received eight gold, and one platinum album BPI Certifications in the UK, and one gold album RIAA Certification in the US. The song "Missing" reached number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1995.
Following EBTG's self-imposed hiatus in 2000, Watt immersed himself in the world of underground electronic music both as a DJ and recording artist/producer. His recorded output during this period includes club tracks such as "Lone Cat (Holding On)", "A Stronger Man" featuring Sananda Maitreya (formerly known as Terence Trent D'Arby), the "Outspoken EP Part 1" including "Pop A Cap in Yo' Ass" featuring Estelle, "Just a Blip" and "Guinea Pig".
In 2014 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." 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. Watt completed over sixty live shows in support of Hendra including tours of UK, North America, Japan and Australia. The album won the 'Best 'Difficult' Second Album' category at the AIM Independent Music Awards 2014. It was included at No 27 in Uncut's Top 75 Albums of 2014. Rolling Stone (Germany) made it their No 2 best album of 2014. Japan's Music Magazine made it their No 3 best album of 2014.
April 2016 saw the release of his third solo album Fever Dream. Self-produced at RAK Studios in London, it continued his relationship with Bernard Butler, and added guest cameos from MC Taylor of North Carolina folk-rock band, Hiss Golden Messenger, and Boston singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler. It received a 9/10 review in Uncut magazine. In a four-star review, The Guardian said: 'In his early 50s, he is making some of the best music of his career.' The Washington Post commented: 'Jazzy, bluesy, slightly overdriven, passionate and poetic … Watt has worn many hats but these songs fit him like a glove.'
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 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.
His second memoir, Romany and Tom - a portrait of his parents' lives and marriage - was published by Bloomsbury in February 2014. In September 2014 it was long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2014.
DJ, Remixer, Label Owner
Lazy Dog (1998–2003)
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  and Lazy Dog Vol. 2  were released by Virgin Records in 2000 and 2001 respectively.
Neighbourhood and Cherry Jam (2002–05)
For three years between 2002 and 2005, Watt was a co-owner/founder of the West London nightclubs 'Neighbourhood' and 'Cherry Jam'. Under Watt's creative direction Cherry Jam hosted underground club nights, art exhibitions, the inaugural events for the long-running spoken word night '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.
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 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 the partial closure of the label in an official statement in April 2013.
Strange Feeling Records (2007–present)
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. This was followed by her alternative Christmas album, Tinsel and Lights, in 2012. In the announcement of Buzzin Fly's closure, the press release went on to say that Strange Feeling Records would remain "quietly active" for future Tracey Thorn releases.
Watt lives with his spouse and creative partner Tracey Thorn in Hampstead, north London. They met at Hull University in 1981; after 27 years together, they married in 2008 at the Chelsea Register Office. Their twin daughters Jean and Alfie were born in 1998, and their son Blake was born in 2001.
- North Marine Drive (1983, Cherry Red)
- Hendra (2014, Unmade Road dist. by Caroline International) UK #46
- Fever Dream (2016, Unmade Road) UK #53
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 (Holding On)" (April 2003, Buzzin' Fly)
- "Buzzin' Fly Vol 1 EP" includes "A Stronger Man" with Sananda Maitreya (January 2004, Buzzin' Fly)
- "Outspoken Part 1" includes "Pop a Cap in Yo' Ass" with Estelle and "Attack, Attack, Attack" with Baby Blak (January 2005, Buzzin' Fly)
- Buzzin' Fly Vol 2 EP includes "Lone Cat (Holding On)" (Justin Martin Remix) and "Pop a Cap in Yo Ass" (Dubstrumental) by Ben Watt with Estelle (April 2005, Buzzin' Fly)
- We Are Silver EP includes "Old Soul" with Baby Blak, and "Lone Cat" (Dennis Ferrer & Steve Martinez Special Re-Rub) (April 2007, Buzzin' Fly)
- "Buzzin' Fly Vol 4 EP" includes "Just a Blip" (June 2007, Buzzin' Fly)
- "Guinea Pig" (October 2008, Buzzin' Fly)
- "Bright Star" by Stimming, Ben Watt & Julia Biel (Feb 2010, Buzzin' Fly)
- "Forget" (includes acoustic version of "The Levels" recorded with David Gilmour). (July 2014, Unmade Road)
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, DMC)
- 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 2006 (Australian release; 2 CDs; one compiled and mixed by Ben Watt, one by Ivan Gough) (November 2006, inthemix.au)
- Buzzin' Fly Vol 3 (June 2006, Buzzin' Fly)
- Buzzin' Fly Vol 4 (May 2007, Buzzin' Fly)
- Buzzin' Fly - 5 Golden Years in the Wilderness (Compiled and unmixed by Ben Watt) (June 2008, Buzzin' Fly)
- "INTERVIEW: BEN WATT". M Magazine. PRS for Music. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- Watt, Ben. "Ben Watt". Ben Watt. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- "Girl trouble". The Observer. 12 September 1999. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
- "Ben Watt with Robert Wyatt - Summer into Winter". Discogs.
- "North Marine Drive (1983)". Pop Matters.
- "Everything But The Girl Awards". mfyi.com. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "Ben Watt Discography at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
- 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.
- "AIM Independent Music Awards 2014". Association of Independent Music. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
- "Ben Watt - Fever Dream". Uncut. 2016-04-28. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- "Uncut Top 75 Albums of 2014".
- "Ben Watt". Facebookm. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- "Ben Watt - Wow. Japan's esteemed Music Magazine puts...". Facebook. 2014-12-22. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- Dave Simpson. "Ben Watt: Fever Dream review – keen-eyed songs about human relationships | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- [dead link]
- "Bloomsbury - Ben Watt". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
- "Romany and Tom: A Memoir: Ben Watt: Bloomsbury Circus". Bloomsbury.com. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- "Musician Ben Watt makes Samuel Johnson non-fiction list". BBC News Entertainment and Arts. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
- "Various - Lazy Dog Vol 1". Discogs.
- "Various - Lazy Dog Vol 2". Discogs. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
- "Mega Watt". www.standard.co.uk. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "Book Slam | London's best literary night club". www.bookslam.com. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "The Libertines: Cherry Jam review". www.rockfeedback.com.
- "NME Reviews". www.nme.com. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "Libertines/Fiery Furnaces, Neighbourhood, London". www.guadian.co.uk. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "House Music Awards 2004 Winners". About Entertainment. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
- 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.
- "Spotify Playlist: Buzzin' Fly Records Special From Ben Watt". The Quietus. TheQuietus.com. 5 March 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- "All Good Things ...". Buzzin' Fly Records. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
- Wendy Roby (11 May 2010). "Tracey Thorn Love and Its Opposite Review". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- "Tracey Thorn: Tinsel and Lights - review by Alexis Petridis". The Guardian.
- "The Galaxy Network". Billboard. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
- "BBC Radio 6 Music - 6 Mix, Ben Watt". BBC.
- "Girl trouble". The Guardian. 12 September 1999. Retrieved 13 June 2013.