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Ben Watt returns to his folk-rock roots with 'Hendra'

Singer-songwriter Ben Watt
Singer-songwriter Ben Watt
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British musician Ben Watt is no newcomer to the music scene. He made it big with his duo Everything But The Girl back in the early '90s and then went on to become a house music DJ.

This year, Watt slowed things down and returned to his folk-rock roots with his new album “Hendra”– a follow up to his debut album over 30 years ago. Watt says he was a precocious 19-year-old when he released his first solo album, "North Marine Drive," and the songs were about adolescences and innocence. With his new album, written in his 50s, things "are very different and you might say they're songs of experience." 

Watt was compelled to write music again after the death of his half-sister at the end of 2012. He says her death "happened very unexpectedly and was a huge blow for the whole family." There are a couple songs on Watt's new album about her, including the title track, which he says "is very much about my sister's dreams of escaping her life versus the reality of what it was really like." 

Of course, when playing these songs live, Watt gets wrapped up in the songs. But he says he's also aware he's up there communicating with people: "My role is to stand at the front of the stage and find this common language with people."  

It's been a couple decades since Watt has performed front-and-center in an intimate setting. During his shows with Everything But The Girl, his bandmate and now wife, Tracey Thorn, sang most of the songs. But Watt says he enjoys holding his own and "likes being the person at the front of the stage." 

Watt has two teenage twin daughters and a son with Thorn and says his kids are somewhat embarrassed that he's still a rock star, but they still come out to support him. He says: "One of my daughters came to one my London shows last week and brought a couple of her friends along, and I think they were actually quite knocked out with it."

Watt says it was heartening to see, but he's used to them taking a rise out of him sometimes. 

You can catch Ben Watt live at The Troubadour on December 1


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