Everything But The Girl’s new At Maida Vale EP is out now digitally. The EP is made up of four tracks recorded in April at the BBC’s famous Maida Vale Studios – Run A Red Light, Single and When You Mess Up, first broadcast on Gideon Coe’s BBC 6 Music show; and Nothing Left To Lose first heard on Jo Whiley’s BBC Radio 2 show. A video of the Run A Red Light performance shot on the day by Edward Bishop can be watched here. All the recordings are versions of tracks on the band’s current album, Fuse, except Single which first appeared on their platinum 1996 album, Walking Wounded. The session was the only live performance that the band did around the release of their new album.
Speaking about the EP, Tracey says: “It was exciting returning to such a famous studio to record these tracks. It was almost 40 years since our first John Peel Session there. The idea was to start by approaching all four as live piano and vocal takes.”
“Nothing Left To Lose was then left stripped back as a complete contrast to the original,” adds Ben. “For the others we added a few one-take overdubs of synth, guitar, drums and backing vocals to capture both the spontaneity of a session but a flavour of the original album arrangements.”
Fuse enters UK Album Chart at No 3
Today ‘Fuse’ entered the UK Album Chart at No 3. Ben and Tracey said on social media: “We are thrilled. Our highest EVER chart position. We didn’t know what to expect when we made it. A leap of faith after all this time. Thanks to EVERYONE who has supported it. It’s been quite the ride. Here’s to the future 🥂🎉❤️”
Fuse, the new album, out now
Yesterday Everything But The Girl released its new album, Fuse. The response has been incredible from both fans and media. Ben and Tracey would like to thank everyone who has supported this project. Highlights have included a string of high-profile reviews and comments (“Still staking out pop’s frontier after 40 years. It is audibly made by people with a deep love for and understanding of the music they’re inspired by … a comeback worth waiting for.” ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – GUARDIAN; “Triumphant new album … bewitching and soul-baring” – PITCHFORK; “How reunion albums should be done … the blueprint for any alt-leaning electronic act in the pop space … proves how big an impact their music has made on the landscape that has followed” ★ ★ ★ ★ – NME) and a wave of acclaim from fans across social media.
Everything But The Girl have released their brand-new single ‘Run A Red Light’. It’s the third upfront track to be taken from their new album ‘Fuse’, due out next month, and arrives with an accompanying video, directed by Charlie Di Placido, who made the recent ‘Nothing Left To Lose’ video (watched over 1 million times on YouTube). There is also a new photo (above) by Edward Bishop.
“I met a lot of characters during my years in clubland,” says Ben of ‘Run A Red Light’, “and I wrote this song about the guy at the end of the night, who dreams his big moment is just around the corner. All the bravado and good intentions masking the vulnerability.”
“The video is like a dream of the story,” says Tracey. “We’ve found with this record that choreography can express the emotion in our music without having to be too literal. The characters, the clothes, the movement, the direction all just fit. Charlie and his team really get the feelings we’re going for.”
The first single – and opening cut from the 10-track album – is Nothing Left To Lose, accompanied by a video from director Charlie Di Placido (Kojey Radical, Jungle).
Written and produced by Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn over the spring-summer of 2021, Fuse is a modern take on the lustrous electronic soul the band first pioneered in the mid-90s. Thorn’s affecting and richly-textured voice is once again up front in Watt’s glimmering landscape of sub-bass, sharp beats, half-lit synths and empty space, and as before, the result is the sound of a band comfortable with being both sonically contemporary, yet agelessly themselves.
Speaking about the band’s re-emergence and new album, Tracey says:
‘Ironically the finished sound of the new album was the last thing on our mind when we started in March 2021. Of course, we were aware of the pressures of such a long-awaited comeback, so we tried to begin instead in a spirit of open-minded playfulness, uncertain of the direction, receptive to invention’.
The pair recorded in secret at home and in a small riverside studio outside Bath with friend and engineer Bruno Ellingham. For the first two months, the artist name on the album files was simply TREN (Tracey and Ben), and early takes focussed on ambient sound montages and improvised spectral piano loops recorded by Ben on his iPhone at home during his enforced pandemic isolation – ideas which later blossomed into atmospheric tracks such as When You Mess Up and Interior Space.
Yet, as confidence grew, so did the pulse and rhythm of the album, culminating in the writing and programming of later songs, such as the new single Nothing Left To Lose and Caution To The Wind. Shot through with alternating hope, desperation and vivid flashbacks, the album’s lyrics – sometimes allusive, sometimes richly detailed, capture what it’s like to start again.
Ben explains: ‘It was exciting. A natural dynamism developed. We spoke in short-hand, and little looks, and co-wrote instinctively. It became more than the sum of our two selves. It just became Everything But The Girl on its own’.
The duo’s renewed studio partnership also led to the new album title. ‘After so much time apart professionally, there was both a friction and a natural spark in the studio when we began’, says Tracey. ‘However much we underplayed it at the start, it was like a fuse had been lit. And it ended in a kind of coalescence, an emotional fusion. It felt very real and alive’.
Everything But The Girl broke through on the UK indie scene in 1982 with a stark jazz-folk cover of Cole Porter’s Night and Day. They then released a string of UK gold albums throughout the 80s, experimenting with jazz, guitar pop, orchestral wall-of-sound and drum-machine soul. After Watt’s near-death experience from a rare auto-immune condition in 1992, the pair returned unbowed with the million-selling ardent folktronica of Amplified Heart in 1994. It includes their biggest hit, Missing, after New York DJ-producer Todd Terry’s remix unexpectedly made the leap from heavy club play to global radio success (Number 2 US Hot 100; Number 3 UK Top 40). The sparkling Walking Wounded – emotional songs brimming with ideas from the mid 90s electronic scene – followed in 1996 (Number 4 UK Album Chart). Spawning four UK Top 40 hits, the record became the band’s first platinum selling album. After their final show at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2000, the pair chose to quit Everything But The Girl on a high.
The intervening years have of course been anything but empty. From 2007 Tracey released four solo albums, a movie soundtrack for Carol Morley’s The Falling, four non-fiction books and wrote extensively for The New Statesman. Ben became an international DJ and remixer, and ran his electronic label Buzzin’ Fly for ten years before returning to his singer-songwriter roots with a trilogy of solo albums from 2014-2020.
Everything But The Girl’s new album Fuse is released on 21st April on Buzzin’ Fly Records through Virgin Music Group, except North America, where it is released on Buzzin’ Fly Records through Verve
A kiss to wish you all a Happy New Year. It has been a big year for us, bringing us back together to record an album for the first time in 23 years. We never imagined at the start of 2022 that this would happen, and yet here we are. Go well into the new year all of you, we look forward to sharing our music in 2023. The next thing you see from us will be something new.
With much love from Ben and Tracey x
Pic: Juergen Teller, 1999
First single from new album out in January
Good news, everyone. We are still on track for the new EBTG album release in the spring. And we’ll have a first single to share with you in January.
(Behind the scenes pic of last week’s photo shoot by Tracey)
This week Ben and Tracey quietly announced on social media that they have made a new album due for release next spring. It will be their first for 24 years. They also launched a new Instagram account and posted this previously unseen photo from 1995 by Marcelo Krasilcic. No more details are available at the moment. More news soon.
Eden gets deluxe vinyl reissue on Sep 17. Pre-order now.
Everything But The Girl’s best-selling debut album, ‘Eden’ is the latest re-release from the duo to benefit from half-speed remastering at Abbey Road Studios by Miles Showell, and a fresh 180gm vinyl pressing. Out on Sep 17 2021, it can be pre-ordered now.
Originally released in May 1984, the album spent almost six months on the official UK album chart peaking at number 14 and spawned the UK Top 40 hit, Each and Every One. The label wanted further singles but the duo preferred the album to grow by word of mouth. ‘Eden’ achieved gold album status in the UK and has gone on to sell more than 500,000 copies worldwide.
Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn met at the University of Hull in 1981. They formed Everything But The Girl initially as a side-project, as both had already established themselves on the UK independent music scene as teenagers – Tracey with her lo-fi minimal girl group, Marine Girls; Ben as a young guitarist and singer-songwriter, collaborating with alt-folk icon Robert Wyatt on his debut EP.
In the summer of 1983 the pair – having each released debut solo albums – decided to pool their new songs for ‘Eden’. It was recorded with producer Robin Millar (chosen for his work with Weekend and The Pale Fountains) at his Power Plant Studios in Willesden, North West London.
“All the songs were written on guitar in Hull in early 1983. We were living in one room with a shared kitchen on Pearson Park,” recalls Tracey. “Power Plant seemed very glamorous by comparison. Sade was recording downstairs. We were upstairs.”
The sessions featured a band handpicked by Ben and Tracey: Working Week’s Simon Booth on second guitar, This Heat’s Charles Hayward on drums, and South American musicians Chucho Merchan (double bass) and Bosco D’Oliveira (percussion) plus a clutch of top horn players from the English jazz scene. The line-up was part friends from London, part musicians Ben admired from trips to the Bull’s Head jazz room with his dad when growing up, in particular Peter King (alto sax).
“We were intent on being non-rock,” says Ben. “No clichés. No snare drums, no solid body electric guitars or electric bass. We wanted soft horns, Gretsch guitars, no fuss, a lightness of touch. We were into pop, latin, torch songs, sharp lyrics.”
The album was released on the newly-formed imprint Blanco Y Negro (co-run by Mike Alway and Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis) through Warner, and signalled Everything But The Girl’s move from an independent – Cherry Red – to a major label.
Eden’s artwork – by Marine Girls band member Jane Fox – was delivered as a three-dimensional collage of hand-drawn art and torn paper. Warner (who were marketing and distributing the record) didn’t really know what to do with it. The original version didn’t even have the name of the band on it. In the end it was photographed and printed on ‘reverse-board stock’ – unusual for a major release at the time.
Eden (2021 Vinyl Reissue) is released on 17 September 2021 on Buzzin’ Fly Records, under exclusive license to Chrysalis Recordings.