From Folk-Rocker to House DJ and Back, Ben Watt Goes Full Circle


Beginning his career in folk-rock in the ’80s as part of Everything But the Girl along with partner Tracey Thorn, then taking a turn into the dance world in the ’90s (remember EBTG’s mega-hit “Missing” remixed by Todd Terry?) and ’00s, Ben Watt’s first solo album in 31 years, Hendra, returns him close to the starting point on his musical path. Watt, 51, sees it all quite rightly as a good thing.

Known for championing emerging DJs for a decade with his roving Lazy Dog party and London-based Buzzin’ Fly label, which released bespoke floor movers from Justin Martin, Jimpster, Spencer Parker and many others, Watt gave up his career as an indie dance-music mogul a year ago to focus on his third book, Romany and Tom for Bloomsbury due in 2014 and his BBC 6Music 6Mix.

Out of his departure from dance music came a renewed interest in his guitar, and before long his noodling led to a collection of songs that became Hendra. Before a three-stop jaunt to America — which was suddenly canceled due to last-minute visa issues — Watt explained the genesis of Hendra and why he has no regrets for going back to his musical roots.

Many people were surprised when you shuttered Buzzin’ Fly in 2013. Now that a year has passed, how do you look back on that decision? Any regrets?
None. It was a considered decision over a period of time. I put ten great years into the label, helping young artists and producers, throwing ace parties, travelling the world, but something was beginning to change in me. I needed to get back to words and my own creativity again. And I simply didn’t have the time or the resources to do both. I am very proud of Buzzin’ Fly. And I shuttered it without ever having to compromise.
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Ben Watt Shutters Buzzin’ Fly Label, Bloomsbury Book Due in 2014

ben watt everything but the girl buzzin fly

DJ/producer Ben Watt has made a surprise announcement on his label Buzzin’ Fly’s website. In advance of the imprint’s upcoming 10-year anniversary collection Buzzin’ Fly Anthology, Volume 1, 2003-2004‘ out digitally on April 22, Watt is closing the revered house label and will concentrate on his Romany and Tom book project for Bloomsbury due in 2014 and BBC 6Music 6Mix.

“I loved every minute,” wrote Ben Watt, “but all good things come to an end. It simply feels like the right moment. Buzzin’ Fly was born out of my commitment to the culture of DJing and helping young artists, but these days I am edging away from it towards other challenges – a new book I’m writing, research for another one, and a long-planned solo music project.

“At heart I have always been a creative person – whether as a writer or musician – as opposed to a business person, and after ten years in clubs and in the office I need time again to focus fully on my own stuff rather than other people’s.

“It feels appropriate to stop now in our tenth year and leave the label with, I hope, a strong reputation for what it has managed to achieve, rather than to continue with a muted presence. Someone asked why I couldn’t hand over the reins to someone else, but I don’t think it would ever have been the same. In the meantime, I hope my ongoing show for BBC 6Music’s 6Mix can still be a distilled showcase for some of the great music I come across. You never know, there might even be another imprint one day.”

Strange Feeling Records will remain a vehicle for Watt’s better half Tracey Thorn to release her work on.