Spotify Playlist: Buzzin' Fly Records Special From Ben Watt
, March 5th, 2010 07:33
With Buzzin' Fly Records set to celebrate their 50th release with 'Bright Star' on March 8, label owner and former Everything But The Girl man Ben Watt provides a special Spotify playlist
As Buzzin' Fly Records gear up for their 50th release with 'Bright Star', The Quietus asked Ben Watt - producer, musician, label owner and former member of Everything But The Girl - to tell us the history of the label and furnish us with a Spotify Playlist.
It was a phone call in 2002 from New York that did it. "Is this you?" the voice at the downtown Manhattan record shop said. "Is what me?" I said. "This white label pressing. It's says 'WATTS' on it," the voice said. After playing me a few bars down the phone I knew it WAS me. A track that I had made for a few friends and some DJ spins on Sunday nights at a tiny west London nightclub I was playing at at the time had been bootlegged, and was now on sale in New York, and I had no idea how it got there.
The track was called 'Lone Cat'. It turned out 1,500 copies had been illegally pressed. I found out the the distributor responsible and gave them a ring. I knew how these things worked and wasn't particularly angry - a bit flattered, actually - but asked if I could take control of the track. I supplied him with 500 more copies that I pressed myself. I began to imagine the sleeve it could have, and the typeface stamped onto the label. All my life I knew that one day I would start a label, and I realised the moment was actually arriving.
Looking back, I grew up in the post-punk years of early 80's. I got my first record deal when I was eighteen years old in 1981 on Cherry Red. I loved everything about independent labels - the obscure bands, the artwork, the handmade sleeves. Being actually ON an independent label was the coolest thing I could think of.
Of course the story unfolded, and with the success I found with partner Tracey Thorn in the band we formed, Everything But The Girl, I soon left the world of indies behind for fifteen years, signing to Warners in 1984, and then Virgin in 1995.
But in 1998 I started to weary on life on majors - the constant feeling that whatever you achieved was never enough for them. Tracey wanted to start a family, and I wanted to go back to something at a roots level again. Fascinated by DJ culture I started DJing and making club tracks. Soon I had launched a Sunday club night called Lazy Dog with Blackmarket's Jay Hannan.
The success of 'Lone Cat' (first roadtested at Lazy Dog) kickstarted my first label, Buzzin' Fly, named for no real reason - other that it sounded like a good name for a label - after a song I have always loved by Tim Buckley. Early signings included French-Portuguese trio Roadmaal and San Francisco's Justin Martin. I loved being able to give a chance to people on the first rung of the ladder. Justin's demo was handed to me with only a phone number scrawled onto it in a dark club in Miami.
Highlights have included releasing genuine underground hits like Darkmountaingroup's 'Lose Control' and Ame's remix of 'Insomnia' and throwing the most amazing parties around the world, but the biggest thrill is still in the detail - designing the sleeves, finding a hot demo, tweaking the website, introducing new music to people. We celebrated our fifth birthday last year, and celebrate our fiftieth single this year. We have a sister imprint, Strange Feeling Records, for more alt-pop stuff - Figurines, The Unbending Trees, Tracey Thorn's new album. And all of it still makes me feel nineteen most of the time - even if I am forty-seven for the rest of it.
Click here to hear the Spotify Playlist.
Bright Star is a collaboration between Hamburg's sound innovator Stimming, Ben Watt himself and jazz folk singer Julia Biel. To pre-order the super deluxe 12" limted edition of 'Bright Star' with gold-foil gatefold sleeve, heavy vinyl pressing, pull-out poster, lyrics and free download voucher by clicking here.