During my recent North American tour I found time to drop by WFUV's studio in the Bronx and record an interview and two songs with my ace band featuring Bernard Butler, Cameron Ralston and Pinson Chanselle. Two days prior to this session I had begun the tour with laryngitis. I'm still recovering on these recordings and my voice sound's pretty husky in places, but I like the spirit.
News — In Full
Here are some links to some American interviews I did surrouding my recent North American tour. They include a chat with Maura Johnston for the Boston Globe, Robert Ham for the Seattle Stranger and Downtown NYC magazine.
I began my Deep Folk Mixtape series about three years ago. I had recently pressed the pause button on my DJ life. After EBTG went on hiatus in 2000 I spent the next twelve years immersed in underground electronic music, which had had hit me as a new way of hearing and playing music to me after years writing in a similar way – like a long-term painter being introduced to collage. The urge to return to my songwriting roots then bubbled again up a few years ago. I began writing songs again – and it has led to my two recent solo albums Hendra and Fever Dream – but the urge to DJ never fully subsided, so I began to wonder what would happen if I applied the same principles I had applied to mixing deep house to folk and folk-rock and American Primitive and ambient electronic music; thinking about segues, matching keys and tempo, space echo, overlays of spoken word. And so the Deep Folk Mixtape series was born.
I don’t really plan them. As the weeks pass I keep a notebook of music I stumble across that I think might fit, then an evening comes around when I go down into my studio and plug up a few FX, and start tinkering around until I get the first couple of mixes and crossovers planned; then it just flows. I do some mixes live through an old Rane mixer, some using software – both have their uses. I’m not a purist. I use Freesound.org for a lot of the field recordings to add texture; there are some beautiful recordings up there; there is a guy I follow who specializes in long slow recordings of the creaking of trees in the wind.
I found the photograph I used for the artwork in a box of my grandmother’s old souvenirs. It is my grandfather William Watt in full deep folk mixtape mode.
I am really happy to announce that Fever Dream is now out on CD, LP, MP3 and Stream. Bernard Butler on guitar. Guest spots from Marissa Nadler and Hiss Golden Messenger. Great feedback from fans and from the press too. Here are some links to buy or stream it. Thanks for all your interest and support. There are live dates from April onwards too.
'Heartbreakingly understated.' 9/10 UNCUT
'Exquisitely measured.' 4/5 MOJO
'Watt achieves the impossible by bettering Hendra. This is heart-and-soul music, and you need to hear it.' SUNDAY TIMES
'In his early 50s, he is making some of the best music of his career.' GUARDIAN
'Quietly, confidently forging a reputation as a mid-life storyteller of real stature.' Q
'Some of Ben Watt’s finest work for years' PITCHFORK
'Midlife masterpiece. Watt’s the star here, writing the best songs of his career. A dream, for sure.' 4/5, CLASSIC POP
'Jazzy, bluesy, slightly overdriven, passionate and poetic … Watt has worn many hats but these songs fit him like a glove.' WASHINGTON POST
The video accompanying Between Two Fires - the new single from my upcoming album Fever Dream - is directed by Brighton filmmaker and photographer Edward Bishop and cuts between a shadowy lone vocal performance and night-time journey out of the city.
It’s an end-of-relationship song - someone driving away from the past, struggling to apportion no blame and resolve things in their own mind. As a visual idea, I asked Edward to bonnet-mount a camera at night and just drive out of a busy city towards somewhere remote in the middle of nowhere.
The journey begins among the festoon lights and ferris wheel of Brighton’s downtown promenade and ends in a dead-end high on the Sussex Downs. The footage is intercut with a late-night solo performance by Watt in his home studio.
Hope you like it. Links to hear the audio and other stuff below.