“I like it when people don’t know anything about me; when I kind of come out of nowhere. Then I can really start talking about stuff and get them to really listen, but have them quickly realize, ‘Oh wait, something’s wrong’. I love that feeling.”
Born in Germany and the only child of his French mother and African-American father — an officer in the U.S. military — Watts’s family finally settled in Great Falls, Montana. Being one of a few visible minorities in his neighborhood, Watts never felt the stigma to fit into whatever mold his suburban counterparts may have thought a black kid was supposed to at the time.
“There are like nine black people in Montana and the rest are all whiteys… those damn whiteys [laughs]. There weren’t a lot of archetypes there either; like a group of people who were like, ‘We hang out over here and they hang out over there’. I didn’t have a crew to hang out with, so when I would do whatever I did people were just like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s just Reggie’.
No one ever questioned me liking what I liked. Ever. It was really quite amazing that it was such an accepting environment. Maybe people were judging me but I just didn’t pick up on it; I was surrounded by good friends.”
Watts studied Jazz at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts where he honed his now-solid improvisation and multi-disciplinary musical talent. He eventually fronted the band Maktub and started experimenting with the effect of multiple people on stage. Along with beat boxing, Watts used his voice to create layered melodies and an arrangement of sound effects. While he’s becoming more and more known for his beat boxing skills, and was influenced by the birth of break dancing as a kid, Watts admits he’s not as knowledgeable on the subject of hip-hop as most might think.
“People often assume that I listen to or know tons about hip-hop and R&B because I do some form of beat boxing, but the truth of the matter is that I know very little about it. I know a couple names; like if someone says ‘DMX’, I kind of know one track because my girlfriend played it for me and said, ‘This is DMX’, but I don’t really know a lot about hip-hop.
In high school I discovered Siouxsie and the Banshees and all of this great new wave, punk, industrial and Goth music… that’s what really resonated with me the most; I loved the whole style of it. I like music where people are like, ‘Why does he like that?’ I find it amusing when people are like, ‘I know what this guy’s about’.”
Continued on page 3.