Last year DJ/producer/musician/Buzzin’ Fly label owner Ben Watt announced that he was shuttering his respected indie imprint to concentrate on his Romany and Tom book project for Bloomsbury. With his book hitting shelves on February 13, Watt will return to music by releasing his second solo album, Hendra, which which arrives 31 years after his first.
Describing the album as “simply a folk-rock record in an electronic age,” Hendra features guest appearances from Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler and famed producer Ewan Pearson (who has produced for Watt’s partner, Tracey Thorn).
“I had come to a plateau with the labels and clubland,” said Watt. “I had a need to go back to words and music, not just beats and other people’s work. Once I made some space, a lot of ideas just tumbled out.
“I put it all away when I teamed up with Tracey as Everything But The Girl in 1983. But as time has gone on – even in spite of the last ten years in the electronic world – something has made me want to go back to see what I left behind. And I realized I’d left things unfinished.
“In the end I wrote the songs for Hendra unexpectedly. My sister died suddenly as I was finishing the book. I think it all came to a head. My mind was full of a lot of stuff. I just went down into the basement at home every night and retuned all my guitars into unfamiliar tunings as a way of beginning again and just started singing.”
Talking about his second solo effort that was three decades in the making, Watt said, “Sometimes I laugh and think it could be the definition of the difficult second album; it has certainly been a long time coming. Some might see it as a strange fork in the road after Buzzin’ Fly, but everything for me has always been about finding a truthful and vivid point of connection with an audience – whether on dance floors or in folk clubs. Words, beats and notes – it’s all we have. It’s just a question of playing them in what feels like the right order at the right time, and at the moment, Hendra just feels right.”
Hendra will be released on April 29 on Unmade Road through Caroline International on standard CD, 180gm vinyl and digital. The standard CD and digital releases carry the original ten-track album. The 180gm vinyl version has the original ten-tracks on vinyl, gatefold artwork, and the full album plus four bonus tracks on an MP3 voucher.
Watt will embark on his first-ever solo tour, playing Joe’s Pub in New York on April 1, Rough Trade in Brooklyn, NY, on April 2, and The Echo in Los Angeles on April 4.
Image of Ben Watt via Facebook