With their first album in 24 years out later this week, Everything But The Girl’s Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt speak to MOJO about the genesis of the record, feeling free, going deep, and being on the same page again.
Why did you decide to record an album after a 24-year break?
Tracey Thorn: “We thought, Let’s make some music for the sheer fun of it. And if it doesn't work, no one ever needs to hear it. We had the freedom of not being under any pressure to deliver an album. No one was waiting for us, or breathing down our neck, so we could literally follow our own moments of excitement.”
How has your musical relationship evolved?
TT: “We’d both done a lot of solo work in that gap in-between, so we each got used to being the boss and making all the decisions. When we came back together, we had a certain amount of trepidation, thinking, OK, how’s that going to work? Actually, we really clicked into a liberating collaborative thing, being a lot freer with each other than we used to be in the old days. When the kids were younger, we felt, We’re already a couple, we’re being parents, and to work together would be so intense. Something had to be taken out of the equation.”
Ben Watt: “If we were going to get back together, it had to be with a common good idea. For a long time we were moving in different orbits. I was very involved in DJing, running a label and remixing, and Tracey was making Christmas albums, and I went back to my songwriter roots for five years, experimenting with guitars, working with Bernard Butler.”
TT: “Then Ben had some experimental music he started working on which was more electronic, and the album emerged from that. It caught fire and took off. We got so excited, realising we were on the same page.”
Is the new EBTG album Fuse about abandonment, literally getting lost in the music?
BW: “Often you can’t really work out what a record is until you have some distance on it, so we don’t want to be too prescriptive. Everyone is coming to it fresh with some unique interpretations. We try to make it emotionally direct, to invite people in. Because of the production that we use, which is more minimalist, it leaves a lot of room in the song for people to place themselves. We don’t have a Phil Spector Wall Of Sound, where we’re saying, ‘This is it, take it from us.’ We’re welcoming people into this experience, and you can almost feel yourself wandering around in the reverbs.”
TT: “The record has a strong exterior/interior thing going on. There are really extrovert euphoric moments on the up-tempo tracks, like the song No One Knows We’re Dancing, which is a kind of hymn to Lazy Dog, a club Ben used to run at Notting Hill Arts Club on a Sunday afternoon. When I sing that song, I think of ghostly characters who are still down in the basement, even though the club’s long finished. There is definitely a vibe of that celebratory club experience, but the lyrics also go very deep internally.”
“It sounds like they are enjoying each other’s company, capturing the euphoria of the club experience…” Read MOJO’s review of Fuse, Everything But The Girl’s first new album in 24 years
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