Singing songs from his brand new album Storm Damage (out Jan 31) and gems from his four-decades-long career, award-winning musician-writer Ben Watt (ex-Everything But The Girl) performs with his new band – a hybrid acoustic-electronic trio featuring Watt (vocals, guitar, piano, FX), Rex Horan (double bass, bass guitar, backing vocals), and Evan Jenkins (drums, percussion, FX).
Ben Watt is an award-winning musician-singer-writer-DJ whose career spans four decades.
Watt first appeared in London in 1981 as a young nineteen-year-old experimental songwriter-singer-guitarist. 1982’s breakthrough 5-track EP Summer into Winter featured Robert Wyatt. His early work culminated in his sparse atmospheric debut album North Marine Drive (1983, UK Independent Album Chart, No 9).
In 1983 he put solo plans on hold to perform and write full-time with Tracey Thorn in their recently-formed duo Everything But The Girl. The band stayed active until 2000, delivering twelve UK Top 40 singles, two platinum and seven gold UK Top 20 albums and one gold US album. 1995’s global hit Missing reached No. 2 on the US Billboard Top 100. The 1994 album Amplified Heart and the 1996 album Walking Wounded – for which Watt was nominated as Best Producer at the Q Awards – each sold over a million copies.
The duo’s career was dramatically interrupted for a year in 1992 by Watt’s drawn-out hospitalisation and near-death experience with a rare auto-immune disease Churg-Strauss Syndrome (aka EGPA) with which he now still lives – a period documented in his acclaimed 1996 memoir, Patient (New York Times, Newsday and Village Voice notable book of the year; shortlisted for the Esquire Non-Fiction Award, UK; Sunday Times, UK, Book of the Year)
Everything But The Girl finally quit on a high in 2000 after the best-selling albums of their career. Watt moved out of the mainstream into record production (Beth Orton), remixing (inc Sade, Maxwell, Meshell Ndegeocello), DJing and clubland. He co-launched the influential London day-night Sunday party and compilation series Lazy Dog (1998-2003) and was creative director, resident DJ and part-owner at west London night clubs Cherry Jam and Neighbourhood (2001-2003) before starting his own award-winning electronic record label and club night Buzzin’ Fly in 2003.
As a DJ he filled clubs around the world and was nominated for Outstanding Contribution to Dance Music at the DJ Magazine Best of British Awards 2009, and as Best Deep House DJ four years running (2008-2011) at the global DJ Awards. He was a resident DJ on BBC 6Music’s flagship electronic music show 6Mix from 2011-2014.
Never shy of change, in 2013 he drew a line under his DJ career to return to his first love, singer-songwriting, and has since recorded a trilogy of highly regarded mid-life solo albums: Hendra (2014) featured a cameo from Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and won the Best Second Album Award at the UK’s respected AIM (Association of Independent Music) Awards; his follow-up, Fever Dream (2016) scored nine out of ten in Uncut magazine, while The Guardian commented, ‘In his early fifties, he is making some of the best music of his career.’ Since 2014 he has played approximately one hundred live shows in UK, Europe, North America, Japan and Australia including prominent festival appearances at Primavera in Barcelona and Summer Sonic in Japan.
2014 also saw the publication of his second memoir, Romany and Tom – a searing but tender portrait of his parents’ marriage – nominated for the UK’s highly prestigious Samuel Johnson Non-Fiction Prize 2014 (now the Baillie Gifford Prize). The LA Review of Books said: ‘Watt captures what real life feels like, and he captures it with breathtaking clarity, beauty, and precision.’
His new album Storm Damage, an emotionally charged set performed by his new ‘future-retro trio’, is released on Jan 31 on Unmade Road/Caroline International and features a guest appearance from Low’s Alan Sparhawk.