Chris Watson (musician)

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Chris Watson
Watson speaking at the 2009 WIRED Lab.
Watson speaking at the 2009 WIRED Lab.
Background information
Born1952 (age 67–68)
Sheffield, Yorkshire, England
field recordings
InstrumentsVocals, samples
LabelsTouch, Rough Trade
Associated actsCabaret Voltaire
The Hafler Trio

Christopher Richard Watson (born 1952)[1] is an English musician and sound recordist specialising in natural history. He was a founding member of the musical group Cabaret Voltaire, and Watson's work as a wildlife sound recordist has covered television documentaries and experimental musical collaborations.


Watson was a founding member of two experimental music groups, Cabaret Voltaire and The Hafler Trio.[2]

He has released several solo albums of field recordings including: Outside the Circle of Fire, Stepping into the Dark (which won an Award of Distinction at the 2000 Prix Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria), Weather Report, and El Tren Fantasma. He has also released a variety of works in collaboration with other artists, including Star Switch On, a collaboration with Mika Vainio of Pan Sonic, Philip Jeck, Hazard, Fennesz, AER (Jon Wozencroft, aka "Alpha Echo Romeo"), and Biosphere. In 2007 he released Storm with BJNilsen, and in 2011 he released "Cross-Pollination" with Marcus Davidson. All of these recordings were released on Touch. Touch releases material digitally through Bandcamp.[3]

The Weather Report album from 2003 was named as "One of the thousand albums you should hear before you die" in The Guardian.[4]

Sound recording[edit]

His sound recording career began in 1981 when he joined Tyne Tees Television. His television work includes Bill Oddie Back in the USA and Springwatch.

In 2006 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Technology degree by the University of the West of England "in recognition of his outstanding contribution to sound recording technology, especially in the field of natural history and documentary location sound".[5]

In 2010 he devised an art project at Liverpool's Alder Hey Children's Hospital, using sound recordings made by children to calm other young patients as they received injections and other treatments.[6][7]

Radio programmes[edit]

Watson has made and been featured in a number of BBC radio programmes:

  • The Reed Bed
Series of five, fifteen-minute radio programmes, broadcast on BBC Radio Four from 19–23 March 2007.
  • A Guide to Garden Birds
Series of five, fifteen-minute radio programmes, broadcast weekly on Radio Four from 22 May 2007
  • A Guide to Farmland Birds
Series of five, fifteen-minute radio programmes, broadcast weekly on Radio Four from 22 August 2011

Personal life[edit]

Watson attended Rowlinson School and Stannington College (now part of Sheffield College), both in Sheffield. He is married to Maggie, who appeared momentarily on-screen with him in episode 3 of Autumnwatch 2010.[8]

He is a Policy & Enterprise Fellow at Durham University's Institute of Advanced Study.[9]

On 26 August 2019, he appeared on the podcast Trees A Crowd with David Oakes.[10]

Album discography[edit]


  • Sunsets wordless recording made at Breachacha on Coll[11] 1994
  • Stepping into the Dark (1996, Touch (UK) Touch Music)
  • Outside the Circle of Fire (1998, Touch (UK) Touch Music)
  • Weather Report (2003, Touch (UK) Touch Music)
  • Cima Verde (2008, Fondazione Edmund Mach and LoL Productions)
  • El Tren Fantasma (2011, Touch (UK) Touch Music)
  • In St Cuthbert's Time (2013, Touch (UK) Touch Music)


  • Star Switch On with Mika Vainio, Philip Jeck, Hazard, Fennesz, AER, and Biosphere (2002, Touch (UK) Touch Music)
  • Number One with KK Null and Z'EV (2005, Touch (UK) Touch Music)
  • Storm with B. J. Nilsen (2006, Touch (UK) Touch Music)
  • Siren with Alec Finlay Platform Projects # ISBN 0-9546831-7-X [CD EP]
  • Cross-Pollination (Chris Watson + Marcus Davidson album) (2011, Touch (UK) Touch Music)


  1. ^ "Chris Watson" (PDF). Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  2. ^ Cooper, Sean. "Biography: Chris Watson". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  3. ^ "Music-Chris Watson". Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  4. ^ "1000 albums to hear before you die: Artists beginning with W". The Guardian. 22 November 2007. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  5. ^ "News". University of the West of England. Archived from the original on 14 September 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  6. ^ Moss, Stephen (24 August 2010). "Birdsong: the cure for all ills?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  7. ^ "Imagine Appeal - Alder Hey Arts". Archived from the original on 4 December 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  8. ^ Autumn watch 2010, episode 3
  9. ^ "Chris Watson". Durham University. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Chris Watson (Part One): The winds catching the conifers – and the secrets of the dawn chorus". 26 August 2019. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  11. ^ Street, Seán (1 March 2013). "The Poetry of Radio: The Colour of Sound". Routledge – via Google Books.

External links[edit]