16th Annual Artist Survey: Charles Watson | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

16th Annual Artist Survey: Charles Watson

Watson on 2018's Best Albums, Flossing, Mental Health in the Music Industry, Automation, The Muppets, and Tim Robbins

Jan 22, 2019 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 16th Annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year, plus some fun personal questions. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2018 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Charles Watson.

Watson was one half of the British duo Slow Club, with Rebecca Taylor, but the band amicably parted ways in 2017 and in 2018 Watson released his debut solo album, Now That I'm a River, via Moshi Moshi.

For our annual Artist Survey we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the midterm elections, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, Kanye West visiting the White House, the #MeToo movement a year later, mental health conditions in the music industry, whether or not they have Flossed, childhood birthday parties and vacations, which Muppets character they are most like, whether or not they are going to The Good Place after death, and much more.

Top 8 Albums of 2018

1. Nils Frahm: All MelodyThis record is my most listened by a long way. The mix of synths and organic instruments is truly masterful.

2. Haley Heynderickx: I Need to Start a GardenShe plays guitar how I think I sound, but I know don't. Amazing songs sung without bullshit. Don't get much better than that!

3. Marlon Williams: Make Way For LoveI played a show with Marlon in the summer and his voice blew my head off. What a band too! I got food poisoning and had to be sick in a bush near the stage and went back for more...it was that good.

4. Group Listening: Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works, Vol. 1This record has such a beautiful vibe. Kinda reminds me of Rita, Sue, and Bob too and I really don't know why.

5. Khruangbin: Con Todo El MundoEveryone kinda wishes a little bit they could rock a fringe, a Strat, and a silver suit...don't they?

6. LUMP: LUMPI've followed Laura Marling's music for years and this is a brilliant project, unsurprisingly.

7. The Wave Pictures: Brushes With HappinessI genuinely don't know how these guys keep making ace records. Brushes With Happiness feels spontaneous and like it's being made up on the spot. It probably is.

8. Trey Pollard: AntiphoneI think this is classical music. I like it.

What was the highlight of 2018 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point? 

Low point? Easy. We were driving from Zurich to Bolzano for a festival and got caught in a freak snowstorm. It went from Coco Cola Christmas ad to Ice Road Truckers in about 12 minutes. We had to abandon the van, cancel the show, and sit it out. The silver lining was that the only nearby hotel was pretty much the Swiss Grand Budapest. It had a killer rooftop glass sauna though. Pretty weird day all round.

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. midterm elections have played out? What do you think the results mean for the Democrats' chances of taking back the White House in 2020?

It seemed like everyone thought they'd won. I was a bit confused by it to be honest. At least congress can challenge Trumpington with a bit more clout now. I wanna see those tax records and see how he tries to cover up a lifetime of tax fraud. Can you run the country from Sing Sing [prison]?

Despite compelling testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and sexual assault allegations from other women, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in a Supreme Court Justice and many Republican women didn't believe Ford's story. What does this tell you about the general state of the #MeToo movement in 2018? 

It's disturbing that it takes such horrendous stories to surface in order to precipitate such a movement but it has shown what a powerful voice the individual has when they all pull in the same direction. I would say the #MeToo is alive and well.

A year after the #MeToo movement, do you feel things gotten better or worse in terms of issues of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and misogyny in the music industry?

I'd like to think that things have gotten better but I just don't know. The music biz is pretty weird at the best of times and I feel like the people who have done shitty things in the past will maybe stop and think twice about how they treat people around them. 

Be honest, did you Floss in 2018? (Meaning the dance craze, not the dental care.)

Errrrmmmm... yup.

Which Muppets character are you most like and why?

Little Miss Piggy, because she's awesome.

Are you less of a fan of Kanye West now that he's visited the White House and has in other ways supported President Trump?

It was pretty amusing seeing someone make Trump look uncomfortable. I'm mostly confused by Kayne's MO. Does he owe Donald a few bucks from back in the day?

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit tragically took his own life this year. What should be done to improve mental health conditions for musicians?

I've started to see charities who offer a service to talk to artists about mental health popping up backstage at festivals which I think is a really positive move forward. It would be great to see something like that in venues as I think it's needed much more on tour. I know that it's not just musicians but also crewmembers that have found themselves struggling while one the road. There seems to not be a huge amount of dialogue about that side of things too.

In 2018 there were more dire predictions about climate change and we witnessed some of its likely effects firsthand with various deadly storms and forest fires. What should touring musicians be doing to better offset their carbon footprint? How bad do you think it needs to get for governments and corporations to take stronger actions to fight climate change?

Touring bands probably have a pretty crappy carbon footprint and if it were cost effective to tour via train I think most people would. I think when it becomes financially beneficial for governments to invest in green infrastructure we will see a massive sea change. I'm dreaming of that bus that parks itself so I can spend the time taking every pair of jeans out of my suitcase looking for the one plectrum I packed for the tour.

Are you ready for artificial intelligence and a more automated future? Some predict that it may come sooner than we think and will lead to massive job losses.

Personally I can't wait. There are a bunch of industries waiting just round the corner that will be born out of automation. We're probably all going to have to have a much wider skill set to keep up which is probably closer to what we are all capable of. It's going to be great. Three-day weeks and powdered food! TAKE ME TO THE FUTURE!

What's your favorite birthday party memory from childhood?

On my 18th birthday I walked home from the worst club in Rotherham, made my self a cheese and pickle sandwich, and then slept next to it on the kitchen floor. That one was pretty cool.

What was your favorite family vacation as a kid? What was your least favorite?

I went to the Scottish Hebrides as a kid. It's beautiful up there. However, I had a jacket potato with raw onion on that I've never quite gotten over.

What's been your most surreal experience in the music industry?

Probably giving Tim Robbins a huge hug outside an Irish bar. He smelled so good. That was pretty weird.

When you die, do you think you're going to the Good Place or the Bad Place?

I'll be going to a seaside town in Yorkshire. You decide whether that's good or bad.

www.charleswatson.bandcamp.com

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nicemusica
January 22nd 2019
5:16pm

wow nice

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