Thursday, 28 March 2013

Interview with Minute Taker

Photography by Jamie Alun Price

Hello Ben, would you like to introduce both your casual self (that’s Ben McGarvey) and your professional self (that’s ‘Minute Taker’) to my readers please?

Hello, yes, I’m Ben – music lover, office sufferer, 80’s / 90’s sitcom addict, piano-mannequin and all round tea-aholic. I sing, play, write and produce quite dark, melancholy and often quirky little pop songs using a mixture of acoustic and electronic instruments. I released my debut album in 2008 and decided that I didn’t like using my own name, so after much deliberation I traded it in for the pseudonym Minute Taker, which is the name I’ll be using to release my second album this April. 

Talk me through an average day in the life of you?

Well I work full time in an office during the day (actually as a Minute Taker a lot of the time!). Evenings and weekends consist of writing music, promoting music, band rehearsals (I’m in a band called The Spiels), planning and playing gigs (both solo and with the band, and I also do stints in piano bars) along with general t’internetting, gymming, and the essential socialising of course! I don’t actually know how I fit it all in actually. I think one of these days I’m just going to lapse into a coma for a few years to make up for sleep lost! 

Could you catch me up on your Minute Taker project and what you’ve been up to since you released your debut album Too Busy Framing in 2008? Five years is a long time to wait to release a follow-up Ben! Like, what if everyone has forgotten you for godsakes?!

Ha ha, well I’ve been writing and recording pretty constantly since my first album. I always have lots of songs popping out like gremlins in a paddling pool but they can vary quite a lot in terms of their characteristics and I really struggled to find a musical direction that felt right for me to pursue with my new material. In the interim I formed The Spiels with Canadian singer-songwriter Ryan Lamey in 2010 and we soon had a whole lot of songs for that project too. The Spiels are now a 5 piece band and we're in the process of recording and releasing our material at the moment (our debut EP came out in February). I think focusing on collaboration with Ryan and the band really helped me to re-evaluate my solo work and find my way with it again. 

Photography by Jamie Alun Price

Your sophomore record Last Things is due for release in April but I’d like to talk about your new single Merge which is taken from the record and is available to download at the moment for free! Basically, no word of a lie, Merge is amazing. But you know that, right? At what point during the production of Merge did you realise it was amazing, and how would you feel (after playing Merge) if I described you as a slightly better looking male version of Grimes?

HAHA! Thanks very much (on both counts). I actually made Merge about 2 and a half years ago (I have a backlog!). I wrote and recorded it in a short space of time then spent a couple of years periodically tweaking it which is what I tend to do (I drive myself crazy with the tweaking!). I remember feeling really excited by the song because sonically and lyrically it was a bit of a different direction for me and I think it really helped me find my “sound” which helped the rest of the album fall into place.  

What is Merge about?

Well it’s funny really because when I wrote it I thought it was a really, really positive song about…. Well, have you ever had that feeling when you’re so in love (or maybe lust?) and you’re lying next to that person and you’re so overwhelmed with desire and excitement that you want to somehow merge into them, like just being close to them is not enough? (Just say yes so I don’t feel like a freak! Ha Ha).

YES! (Out of politeness)

That was how I felt when I wrote the song but later I came to see it from more of a solemn perspective when I had to let that person go. We can only ever get so close to one another and no matter how close we feel to someone we are ultimately separate beings, limited by the confines of our human form. 
God, you're so deep Ben!
Photography by Natalie Lehmanov√°
Be truthful, is Merge the best bit about your new album or are there equally amazing moments to enjoy on Last Things?

Merge is perhaps one of the more instantly accessible songs but I think the whole album is consistently strong (obviously I’m totally biased!) but these are my favourite 11 songs from probably 40 or so that I worked on during that period. And it’s interesting because the people I’ve showed the album to have reported completely different songs as their favourites. When it came time to choose a first single I was torn because different people were strongly suggesting different songs, so that’s a good sign I reckon!

What is your favourite song on Last Things? It’s probably Merge, eh?

I have 2 favourite songs from the album (they take turns!). They are called Coma and Wait For Me. I guess they both have more of a floating, dream-like feel to them as apposed to Merge which I think has a bit of a harder, industrial edge. It’s like every song has it’s own little universe that I disappear into when I’m working on them (the tweaking!) and the universe of those 2 particular songs were my favourite ones to visit.  
Oh... no Merge?
Photography by Natalie Lehmanov√°

Can we expect you to tour the album, and if so, where will Merge place in your setlist?

I don’t have a tour planned at present but would certainly like to tour very soon. I tend to put on a gig in Manchester (where I’m based) every few months at the moment but I’m keen to play in some other places. I usually play Merge towards the end of the set. Actually, there is a great remix of Merge by a German artist called Eineinmeier which I premiered during the encore of my last gig. I sang the vocals live and danced (badly) which was very strange for me as I always like to hide behind instruments and gadgets. It was great fun and I even got people up dancing with me!

A guilty pleasure you can't seem to quit?

I have sooo many guilty pleasures! My guilty pleasure at present is Thundercats. I used to love the cartoon as a kid and recently got the box sets. It's really quite terrible watching it now but I'm hooked! It's amazing how many forgotten childhood memories and feelings it unlocks and I find that quite inspiring. Another pretty constant guilty pleasure is the music of The Carpenters who are one of my favourite bands. A lot of their stuff is pretty corny but I just love the arrangements and Karen's voice is simply immaculate! 
Photography by Natalie Lehmanov√°
If the world were coming to an end and you were allowed one last kiss, who would be lucky enough to land on your lo-fi lips?

Hmmm, really not sure. Can I have one last cup of tea instead?

Fine!  I'll kiss you!  Which item of clothing in your closet gets most wear and why?

I have a mustard yellow jumper (from Pri-mani no less!) that I tend to wear numerous times per week. I just love the colour. I don’t actually know if it suits me but sod it! I noticed in the new Bowie video that he’s wearing a cardigan of the same shade. I was like “get in!!”. Although in hindsight, he is pushing 70. 

What was the last lie you told someone to protect them from the truth?

Bloomin ‘eck that’s a random one! I can’t actually recall but if I could I certainly wouldn’t have it splurged across t’internet! Ha!

Photography by Jamie Alun Price

Would you like to ask Portis Wasp a question?

What was your favourite zone in the Crystal Maze? (no idea why this popped into my head but I’m running with it!).

Omg what an amazing question!  Whilst my memories of watching the Crystal Maze are hazy at best, I do recall getting rather excited whenever Richard and the teams jogged into the Aztec Zone!  I could literally feel the heat (off the studio lighting) coming through the tv!!!    

If you could be an animal for the day, which animal would you be and what would you get up to?

Well it would definitely have to be a flying animal and I’m a bit of a wuss so it would have to be something fuck off big so other birds wouldn’t mess with me. Maybe a nice big eagle and then I’d quietly fly up to my friends’ windows at night and screech like a mother-fucka! Ha Ha

What happens next?

Well my main aim at the moment is to promote the ass off my album seen as it’s taken me sooo long to finish! As well as continuing to work with The Spiels and on my next solo album which is already in the makings. Plus I’m also writing the music for a very dark stage musical written by Graphic Novelist Ravi Thornton, which is very exciting indeed! Hopefully some more gigs soon too as I’m really enjoying playing these new album songs live!

Thanks Ben! 

Last Things is released on 15th April through Octagonal Records.


No comments

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
© Portis Wasp

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig