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Ben Watt Band ft. Bernard Butler


Ben Watt Band ft. Bernard Butler

British musician, singer, songwriter, author, DJ, and radio presenter Ben Watt is probably best known to many as one half of the duo Everything but the Girl.

British musician, singer, songwriter, author, DJ, and radio presenter Ben Watt is probably best known to many as one half of the duo Everything but the Girl. The last album by Everything But The Girl was the 1999 Temperamental. Since then, Watt has produced solo work, produced, and DJ’d. With a new album out Fever Dream, KS caught up with Ben Watt to talk about his music, collaborations, and his upcoming visit to Japan.

This year you released the album Fever Dream. You worked with guitarist Bernard Butler on this album and he’s also touring with you. How did this collaboration come about?

I met Bernard by chance at a party in around 2012 held by the British music journalist, Pete Paphides. We were obviously aware of each other’s work and we just got talking. I think we were at similar points in our lives. We had each been involved in long-term projects from which we were looking to diversify: I had been a DJ for 10 years and was looking to return to words and music and songs; and Bernard had been a producer in the studio for a long time and was thinking about live performance again. We ended up having a jam at my studio a few weeks later. It was actually quite awkward at first – I had no new songs and Bernard was trying new approaches on the guitar. But I knew there was the seed of a good idea in the two of us working together. Six month later I called him again and said I now had some actual songs (4 songs from Hendra). We got together again. I pictured Bernard playing something hard, bluesy and dark against the warm open-tuned stuff I was writing. This time it really clicked. He adds color and drama to the songs. We occupy our own spaces and I think we complement each other. Fever Dream is just an extension of something we began on Hendra.

It has been said that you are now making some of the best music of your career. What’s your take on that and the music you are now producing?

Well, of course I am very flattered. Everybody likes approbation from audiences and critics. I am pleased because I feel I am returning to the person I dreamed of being as a young boy – a kind of alternative troubadour, if you like. On the fault line of folk and jazz and rock. And to have acclaim for doing what feels real and authentic is a good feeling. I was the youngest in my family. I grew up hearing be-bop, 70s folk-rock, and soul singer-songwriters. I realized recently it was very important to me. I have tried to go back and capture that feeling but adding a modern twist by writing truthfully about my life now; older, experienced.

You’re a frequent visitor to Japan with your own shows and also festivals such as Summer Sonic in the past. What things do you enjoy (musically and non-musically) when you come over here?

I am very fond of many aspects of Japanese culture. I love the food. I love the respect audiences show at events. I think it’s great the way people are knowledgeable about artists before they attend events, and the way it is respectful to research an artist’s work before attending an event. I love the attention to detail in the sound engineering – it makes performances a pleasure. I think there is also a taste for the ‘exquisite’ in Japanese culture – the sad captured in the happy in a single moment; the weightless distillation of beauty and the bittersweet. This is often a feeling I strive for in my writing, so perhaps Japanese audiences are very suited for my work!

Ex-Everything But The Girl, producer, and solo artist • Shinsaibashi Soma, Osaka • Singer-songwriter • 7:30pm • ¥7,000 • Tel: 0570-200-888

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