U.K.-based Buzzin’ Fly is a label, a compilation series, a club night, a merchandise line and, for the worldwide fans who ascribe to its genre-flouting musical policy, a way of life. Just don’t call it the b-word.
“I really hate the word ‘brand,'” Buzzin’ Fly founder and president Ben Watt tells Billboard. “I try very hard not to use it these days because everyone just seems so obsessed with it. I’m interested in just building a really great little record label that has no agenda but just responds to the times that it lives through.”
Watt knows a thing or two about capturing zeitgeist. He was the production half of platinum-selling duo Everything But The Girl (with singer Tracey Thorn), which shifted from a 10-year career of guitar-driven light jazz to emotive electronic pop on the landmark 1996 release “Walking Wounded” (Atlantic). The pair’s retrospective remix collection, released last year, was titled “Adapt or Die.”
On Watt’s latest DJ release, “Buzzin’ Fly Vol. 3” (Buzzin’ Fly), the adaptation is in response to electro-minimalism from Europe, especially Germany — what he calls “the most interesting music that’s out there now.” He says this new music has made the “more deep, soulful sounds” that were central to the series’ first two installments “sound a little suburban and dated in some ways.”
“I wanted to spend time sifting through everything that was coming out and try to find the stuff that I could really link together through my own sensibility,” Watt adds. “I didn’t want to just put out the five hottest tracks from Tiefschwarz, Trentemoller, John Dahlback, whatever.”
Even though he is inherently adaptive, Watt understands that clubgoers might be a bit stubborn. “With the younger generation, the tendency is to dismantle, to dispense with melody at the expense of energy. And you’ll often find that the more melodic stuff is appreciated by a slightly more long-in-the-tooth crowd,” he says.
“So when you play in clubs, you have to look at who’s out there; you have to look out and see who’s come to see you. And if you see 19-year-old faces and 45-year-old faces, you take them on a journey that suits them. You offer them energy and sparseness and minimalism and aggression, and then you offer them beauty and depth, and somehow you try to give it all a meaning.”