Collaborators – Ben Garnett aka The Organ Grinders Monkey

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My main musical collaborator for the Professor Karmadillo project and the Giant Leaps album has been Ben Garnett, who I first met whilst he was playing in Cambridge as part of Colonel Bastard. He’s now based in Brighton where he is The Organ Grinders Monkey. I feel we really had great chemistry when working together. As the guy who cystallised a lot of the ideas into solid recordings, his contribution was pivotal to how good the music turned out – and his work was invaluable! Here’s his account of working together on Professor Karmadillo. Thanks a lot for all your efforts dude!

My name is Ben Garnett, I’m an amateur musician/producer currently based in Brighton. I’ve known Rishi since about 2005, when I lived in Cambridge and we both played in local bands. The first time we worked together was a couple of years ago, when I helped him to record and produce a zombie-themed love song for use in a film.

I contributed to six of the songs that Rishi recorded for the Professor Karmadillo album and live shows, plus another track that didn’t make the final cut. My task was to take some of Rishi’s rough demo recordings of charango and voice, and flesh them out into full arrangements/productions. This mainly consisted of programming sympathetic drum parts and recording bass lines to create a rhythmic backdrop for Rishi’s tunes, but I also ended up adding some guitar, keyboards and backing vocals here and there. I would then send the individual recorded parts back to Rishi, initially to use as backing tracks at his gigs, and also to serve as the bedrock for the final album versions of the songs.

Photo by Paul Green

We communicated mainly via email and shared ideas by sending mp3 files back and forth on Rishi’s web server. Rishi was a delight to work with – very receptive to any new ideas I brought to the project, yet always with a strong sense of purpose and clear vision as to the sound he was after and the direction he wanted to take each song in. He is a talented songwriter with a keen sense of melody and a wry sense of humour, and is adept at tweaking his compositions and coming up with new ideas very quickly (I think he had four songs still in progress when we started working together, and he was regularly sending over new pieces of music).

As a musician and songwriter myself it was quite liberating and a lot of fun to be able to work on songs without having to worry about coming up with the “bare bones” elements of chords and lyrics first. Each of the demos Rishi sent suggested to me a particular sound and arrangement upon the first few listens, and the ideas that came to me usually aligned quite well with Rishi’s guidance notes and prompts (I think there were only one or two instances where he had to rein in my dafter impulses!). Listening back now to the completed works I feel this collaboration has resulted in a great and thoughtful body of music.

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