Robert Wyatt - Human Nature

Robert Wyatt has a unique perspective on jazz. As a lover of the music and a frequent collaborator with some of today’s most interesting performers, Wyatt also represents a quintessentially English tradition of radical dissent both in his songs and in his politics. Formerly a rock drummer with Soft Machine, a band which has remained uniquely influential on subsequent generations of jazz and rock fans alike, he now pursues a distinctive second life as a singer and songwriter, rarely performing but steadily creating a string of critically acclaimed albums. The latest, Comicopera, has just been released. Duncan Heining travels to Robert’s home in Lincolnshire for this special interview and also talks to musicians from Robert’s new album, Annie Whitehead and Gilad Atzmon. Robert Wyatt - Human Nature
How do you describe Robert Wyatt? Musician? Clearly. Song-writer? That goes without saying. Activist? Fair enough. But beyond stating the obvious, it gets increasingly difficult to define what he does. As if bemused by their own appeal, his songs defy easy categorisation and yet their charms communicate across generations and genres. Robert has just signed with Domino, the hippest of young independent labels and home of the Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and more oddball talents like Stephen Malkmus and Jim O’Rourke. Oh, and he’s about to release his latest album, Comicopera.

Louth in Lincolnshire, where Robert and partner Alfie Benge live, is about 200 miles and three decades from London. Piles of books, records and musical instruments clutter their rambling Georgian house close to the town’s centre. Photos, political posters and Alfie’s art on the walls. In the hall two carrier bags full of paperbacks, unclear whether they are coming in or going out. Two lives lived to the full. Outside in Louth itself, Robert and Alfie seem well-known to the town’s other residents.  

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