Interview by Stephanie Holstein ’18
Free Cake For Every Creature is the project of Katie Bennett, who has been releasing amazing music for the past few years on Bandcamp, both as a solo artist — most recently with her new album, moving songs — as well as with a full-band, as in “pretty good”. Bennett’s music is wide-ranging yet relatable; as she sings quietly and sweetly of love, changes, and memories, she turns her own introspective moments into short and beautiful stories to be shared with us. As Bennett says below, she most enjoys artists she can relate to, and find a friend in. After listening to her music for the past year — not to mention that amazing show Free Cake played at The Horn with Addie Pray — I can confidently say she is just the kind of artist she talks about! That being said, I was so happy to sit down with Bennett and her bandmates and talk about inspiration, Bowie, an eclectic mix of movies, and of course, sweet sweet music. Enjoy!
So this is a very random tidbit, but I saw you this past summer at the Music Hall (Music Hall of Williamsburg) and you were playing with Hello Shark —
Katie: Oh yeah!
Yeah, which was super crazy, so I was wondering if you guys could speak to the collaborative aspect of music. It seems like you guys play with a lot of your friends’ bands, so do you feel a kind of collaborative vibe of helping each other out?
Colin: Everyone is kind of doing something in Philly. Like, everyone has a project of some sort, and we all have our own projects that we’ve been working on outside of the band.
Cool! What project are you working on?
Colin: It’s a secret, kinda.
Oh okay, alright! I just thought it was a really crazy connection. I feel like it’s a very friendly community.
Katie: Yeah, you need other people too to make your own band happen, and in turn they want your help, too. It goes both ways!
Yeah, a very nice give and take. One of my favorite songs of yours is “All You Gotta Be When You’re 23,” and I love that it starts with a clip from Reality Bites, which is one of my favorite movies. What influences your songwriting?
Katie: What’s happening in my life, really …
What have you guys been listening to lately?
Katie: I’ve been listening to Belle and Sebastian recently, bringing it back from high school. I always listen to The Cranberries.
Yes! The Cranberries to me is that definitive car music you have on, like I always play “Linger” for some reason whenever I go somewhere.
Nice! I feel like you gotta have certain songs or artists on rotation that you always go back to.
Colin: Yeah, for sure. Also the album that Julee Cruise did with David Lynch is really good, like, what the Twin Peaks theme came from, which is just one of my favorite movies.
Oh cool, I’ll have to check that out! As you guys all have your own projects, I’m sure you can all speak to this — what comes first, the lyrics or the music?
Katie: It’s always lyrics, for me. It’s always nice to have some cool sounding music, too, but the lyrics are really important to me.
Francis: I’m pretty much music first, whatever I make, I don’t know why. But I do go from words to music, or music to words.
Very cool. Do you guys have a specific artist or sound that got you really interested in music?
Katie: I always like to listen to things that sound older, that make me feel nostalgic — something that sounds a little kooky, a little off, but still very pretty, and comforting.
Francis: Yeah, like Katie said, just kooky stuff. I feel like that’s kind of the most important part — feeling or identifying something weird. As a songwriter, I just wanna feel kinda special for noticing.
Any specific artists? That sounds really nice.
Katie: We just bought a Patsy Cline tape on tour that I have at home that I listen to. Her songs are pretty simple, but relatable, and nice-sounding guitar.
Speaking to the of art of listening Frances just mentioned, I’m really curious what you guys think about the ways we listen to music, like Spotify or vinyl. How do feel about how music is being listened to?
Colin: I’ve never been able to run Spotify on my computer so I pretty much just listen to records and tapes. Bandcamp is huge, Bandcamp changed everything, changed my life and changed everyone’s lives — for the better, I think.
Ian: I think, if it’s just something that I really wanna listen to, it doesn’t matter if I’m listening on my phone or an actual record. I really like having and owning tapes and records and physical copies of stuff, but —
Francis: Whatever’s easiest.
Are you guys the kind of type that can just listen to a certain artist for an entire week, or do you make playlists, or is it all over the place depending on how you’re feeling?
Katie: I used to make a lot of playlists when I was younger, but I feel like now I mostly listen to full albums of an artist, and try to get a feel for what’s going on in the album, maybe now since I’m making music myself.
Colin: Yeah, like when I was doing radio, I used to make really long, really intense playlists for specific moods and stuff and dig really deep into all sorts of obscure corners of music history. But yeah, now that I’m not really doing anything like that anymore, I pretty much just concentrate on curating mood boards of music for myself that make me feel inspired or comfortable, or feel aggressively creative or something.
I was also wondering — I guess it’s been about a week now, since Bowie’s passing. There’s been such an amazing outpouring of love for him from the music community, and I was wondering how you guys felt about him?
Colin: He spent a solid, like, five decades of being the coolest person on Earth, so the reverberations are huge. I am pretty bummed. I feel like he’s one of the most singularly important artists to come from the 20th century and like, every medium that he tried — especially in just the performance of existing as a person with a non-conforming gender identity, or just existing as a person at all and the idea of performing your identity, bringing that into to the mainstream, and into music, which I feel like is the most consumed mainstream medium besides maybe T.V.
I totally agree. What do you guys think?
Francis: I never really listened to Bowie.
What did you listen to growing up?
Francis: The first CD I remember getting was a Beach Boys greatest hits.
Oh word, I saw them this past year! They still got it. Did you see Love and Mercy?
What did you guys think of it?
Ian: Paul Dano doesn’t look anything like John Cusack.
Colin: Yeah, but also, I don’t know. I hope when they make a movie about John Cusack they have Paul Dano play him.
Haha, I hope so! Have you guys seen any good movies lately?
Francis: We watched The Fly when we had, like, six hours to kill in D.C. That was a movie.
I’ll have to check that out, too! Okay, so my last question—it’s going to sound really Almost Famous-y — but what do you guys love about music?
Katie: I think music just makes me feel good, it makes me feel happy or in a good mood. It makes me — if I can relate to the artist — [feel] like they could be my friend or something, it makes me feel comforted and happy.
Colin: I love hearing people being very daringly creative and kind of being dazzled by the risks that people will take. I also just love to shred.
Francis: I don’t know, just dancing around, kinda —
Colin: Dancing in the moonlight? I think the first music I ever really connected with was the Free Willy soundtrack and the Powerline song from A Goofy Movie and those two things combined made me write in my journal when I was five that I wanted to be a rock and roll guy.
Francis: I feel like A Goofy Movie was pretty crucial.
Inspiration is everywhere! Well, thank you guys so much — it’s been so fun talking with you guys and thank you for the killer show.
Everyone: Thank you!