Ivo Watts-Russell

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Ivo Watts-Russell (born 1954) is a British music producer and record label executive. He was joint-founder with Peter Kent of the indie record label 4AD.[1] He has produced several records, although he prefers to use the term "musical director".

Early years[edit]

Watts-Russell was born in Edinburgh,the youngest of eight children of Major David Watts-Russell and Gina Spinola (née Baker); he "never related emotionally" to either of his parents, and grew up "on a dilapidated Northamptonshire estate in an atmosphere of almost Victorian froideur".[2] He was educated at Oundle School. His paternal grandfather, Captain Arthur Egerton Birch, of the Coldstream Guards (son of the colonial administrator Sir Arthur Nonus Birch), took his mother's surname at the age of 21, she being of the Watts-Russell gentry family formerly of Ilam Hall, Staffordshire.[3][4][5] Captain Arthur Egerton Watts-Russell married Sylvia Grenfell, of the family of the Barons Grenfell, through whom Ivo Watts-Russell is a cousin of the war poet Julian Grenfell.[6]

In 1977, he joined Beggars Banquet Records as they were starting their label.[6][7]


One of his better-known productions is the Cocteau Twins' debut Garlands. (He is the namesake of "Ivo", the lead track of Cocteau Twins' 1984 album, Treasure.)[8] He also led This Mortal Coil, writing and selecting songs; choosing the personnel for each song; and occasionally playing keyboards. A few years after the release of This Mortal Coil's final studio album, he founded and produced a band called The Hope Blister. which released two albums: ...smile's OK (1998) and Underarms (1999). Although 4AD first released Underarms as a limited edition CD, the label reissued it in 2005 as Underarms and Sideways, the second disc of which has seven remixes by Markus Guentner.[9]

Later years[edit]

He had a nervous breakdown in 1994 and sold his half of 4AD to Martin Mills in 1999. He moved to Santa Fe in the US where he still lives.[6]


  1. ^ Murphy, Gareth (2014). Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry. St. Martin's Press. p. 350. ISBN 9781250043375. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD by Martin Aston – Review". TheGuardian.com. 12 September 2013.
  3. ^ Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th edition, vol. 2, ed. Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 2003, p. 1658, "Watts-Russell formerly of Ilam Hall"
  4. ^ Burke's Landed Gentry, 17th edition, ed. L. G. Pine, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1952, p. 181, "Birch of Beaumont Hall"
  5. ^ Burke's Landed Gentry, 18th edition, vol. 2, ed. Peter Townend, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1969, pp. 543-544
  6. ^ a b c Ashton, Martin (10 October 2013). "4AD: the 'pure' label behind Pixies and Cocteau Twins". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  7. ^ Wallace, Wyndham. "Facing The Other Way: Ivo Watts-Russell & Vaughan Oliver On 4AD Records". The Quietus. The Quietus. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  8. ^ Muggs, Joe (7 August 2012). "4AD boss Simon Halliday on living with the label's past, and his vision for its future". Fact Magazine. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  9. ^ Ediriwira, Amar (7 May 2015). "Art-rock Adventurism: The complete 4AD story". The Vinyl Factory. Retrieved 6 February 2017.

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