A 26-year-old music producer with the same name as the famous Pop Idol judge has scouted out an up and coming singer/songwriter who’s been tipped as ‘one to watch’ by The Independent.
Pete Waterman, who lives on the Princess Mary Gate estate in Wendover, found 21-year-old Radio 2 Folk Award nominee Hattie Briggs on YouTube last year and now he’s concentrating on turning her into a superstar.
Her debut album, Red and Gold is officially out on April 6 and is due to be reviewed by Q Magazine, but it has already leapt into the Top 20 singer/songwriter pre-order album chart on iTunes – and there’s even talks about an appearance on Jools Holland.
Hattie, from Stroud in Gloucestershire, was studying Russian in her second year at Oxford University and announced over the dinner table that she planned to quit and do music full time – just as Mr Waterman emailed her asking if she was looking for a producer.
She said yes, and now the singer songwriter and her mum Melissa work in partnership with Mr Waterman, who says Mrs Briggs now calls him her ‘surrogate son’ because they have spent so much time together in the music studio.
The trio recorded much of the album at the famous Monnow Valley studios in Monmouth, Wales – used by bands such as Oasis and the Manic Street Preachers – but also did stints at Bucks New University and Liscombe Park in Soulbury, near Leighton Buzzard.
Red & Gold is Mr Waterman’s first full album that he’s produced since taking the the freelance plunge in January 2014. Hattie will be supporting Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman on a 25-date tour starting on March 25. During the tour, Hattie will be visiting The Stables in MK and The Drawing Room in Chesham.
Mr Waterman, who holds a first class degree in music production, wrote two of the songs on Hattie’s new album and says her work has ‘a lot of folk elements’.
He said: “I would say Eva Cassidy and James Taylor are her biggest influences, but her songs do have a pop vibe, so I don’t think she would call herself a folk artist.
Mr Waterman, who has been married to wife Catherine, 28, for two years, tells how bass player Alec Dankworth and Eva Cassidy’s brother came to contribute to the album too.
He said: “I took my Grandma to a jazz concert at the Berkhamsted Civic Centre, as you do, and there was the best double bass player I’d ever seen performing.
“I need a double bass player for Hattie’s new album so I went up and asked him if he’d come and do a bit of work for us.
“He said yes, and he was incredible, but it wasn’t until he walked away that I realised he was Alec Dankworth - the son of the most famous jazz pairings ever, Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Lane!
“And I knew Hattie was a big fan of Eva, and I loved her live cover version of Fields of Gold. I wanted her to put it on the album but she said ‘absolutely not’, and I knew it was because she was sort of waiting for permission.
I took my Grandma to a jazz concert in Berkhamsted, as you do, and there was the best double bass player I’d ever seen performing.Peter Waterman
“So I sneakily went behind her back and asked violinist Dan Cassidy, Eva’s brother, if he would come and play Fields of Gold with Hattie.
“He said ‘yeah, that’s great’ and Hattie was so shocked when I told her, she nearly fell over!”
He said of the journey with Hattie: “One day we’re sitting in my conservatory and Hattie is preparing for a gig in front of 50 people and my neighbour is bringing cake round, and the next thing we’re talking to Jools Holland.”
Mr Waterman – who grew up in Pitstone and Marsworth – began his own musical journey at Joss Stone’s house in Devon when he was 18, where he was a guitarist and bassist for her home studio for a year.
He then studied for his degree at Bucks New University in High Wycombe before becoming an associate lecturer in the same course.
It was when he was teaching at Watford college in December 2013 that he got a call to say that rock band Uriah Heep wanted to make an album at Liscombe Park Studios.
“I went on holiday to Centre Parcs with my family and we were all sat round the dinner table, and I said ‘I’m thinking of giving up teaching to produce music full time’.
“I went round the table and everyone said ‘do it’ and I got to my dad, who I thought would say ‘stick with the job’, but when he said ‘go for it, son’ I knew I was doing the right thing!”
“So I quit all of my jobs bar one and recorded Uriah Heap’s 2014 album Outsider alongside Status Quo’s Producer, Mike Paxman.”
Despite his name, Pete says he doesn’t come from a musical background and his family were ‘bemused’ when at age 10, he could play all of Abba’s songs on the keyboard.
The former Tring School pupil said: “It’s very strange!”