Artist turned DJ - it almost sounds cliched, doesn't it? In the case of Ben Watt, the transition from Everything But the Girl to Buzzin' Fly is more of a logical artistic growth. The recent release of Buzzin' Fly Volume 3 is a testament to the music that Ben Watt continues to produces and find for the househeads of the world.
DJ Ron Slomowicz: Where do you find the music that you play out?
Ben Watt: Pretty much the same as everyone else, I guess. I get sent some stuff, people on the label are working on tunes all the time. I buy stuff online, both vinyl and downloads. Like any other DJ, I just do the research.
RS: When you play out are you playing vinyl, CDs, or mp3s?
Ben Watt: In London I tend to play a mixture of vinyl and CD, but more and more when I tour now I just take CDs with me because it's lighter and it's more reliable. I don't like having to do that, but I've had too many bad experiences. It's easier to take less risks and travel with CDs.
RS: Do you produce music specifically for your sets?
Ben Watt: Oh for sure, especially if I'm not actually in the studio recording new stuff myself. I do lots of re-edits of stuff and mixes of certain things just to keep things interesting.
RS: A Buzzin' Fly CD, is that what we'd expect to hear from you when you spin out live?
Ben Watt: I hope not. What, from start to finish?
RS: Would it be similar?
Ben Watt: Yes, I'm sure there will be aspects of it, because that's the sound I like. But at the same time, you watch the crowd, you take it high, you take it lower, you go for longer, you respond to what's in front of you, you know, you have the role of being the ambience coordinator.
RS: That's a cool title. How do you choose the songs for your Buzzin' Fly compilations?
Ben Watt: Well, this one was quite painful, I had four attempts before I was happy. Usually it's quite a bit of painstaking back-and-forth, trying things out and trying to get things to blend. It takes time.
RS: I heard you just did a big seven-hour set for your anniversary. In this age of one-hour sets, what's your secret for such stamina?
Ben Watt: Oh, I was feeling great until about five in the morning, and everyone kept coming up to me saying 'Ben, are you feeling OK, you've done six hours, how are you doing?' And I'm going, 'I'm feeling great.' And then at ten past five, I just hit the wall. And the last forty minutes was just torture, I went deaf, I couldn't hear anything, my legs were like jelly, I'd been drinking too much, I hadn't taken onboard enough water and it was kind of a bit of a train wreck for the last half hour. But kind of everyone loved it, so it was cool.
RS: You used to run a weekly nightclub and now you focus more on your label. What's your favorite and least favorite part of doing both?
Ben Watt: Well, running a nightclub I don't do anymore, I stopped that a year ago because it was hell on earth in the end. I loved the music, I loved booking the DJs and helping out with the promotion and stuff, but in the end, worrying about beer prices and wages and the cost of glassware, it drove me insane and I just had to leave in the end.
RS: And so with running a label, what's your favorite part and least favorite part?
Ben Watt: Designing the sleeves. I love the artwork side of it. When I started the label, I wanted it to be like Factory Records because that's what I grew up with when I was a kid, when artwork was as important as the music. So I think for a house label that's quite unusual; we spend a lot of time on the website and the artwork. Obviously we spend time on the music as well, but I just like it to look great too, that's one of the things I really enjoy.
RS: What do you not like about running the label?
Ben Watt: Royalties, accounting, most of the business side, having to say no to people because we haven't got enough room on the schedule; routine stuff I guess.
RS: Do you think your DJing feeds the label, or does the label feed your DJing?
Ben Watt: I think it's a bit of both. I certainly think the sound of Buzzin' Fly is very much a reflection of my taste, people have said that before. So I will often find stuff that I would play myself in my sets, and I think there's a kind of symbiotic relationship between what I play and what I sign. But it's my label so I can do what I like.
RS: I heard that you just signed two US bands. Who did you sign?
Ben Watt: Oh no, I tried to. I tried to sign Richard Swift, who was on Secretly Canadian, and I tried to get him for a UK deal and I came very close, but in the end they decided not to go with us. And I just heard recently he's just signed a massive American deal, so good luck to him anyway. And there were a couple of other, there was a San Francisco band I was looking at recently, but we haven't actually signed anybody yet.