Q&A with Katie Bennett of Free Cake for Every Creature
Bright Lite: How long have you been making music?
Katie: Forever! I first started recording a cappella songs on my mom’s microcassette recorder when I was seven. I started learning to play guitar when I was twenty.
Bright Lite: What made you start playing music?
Katie: I don’t know- most kids naturally love to sing and dance and express themselves unabashedly. I loved Britney Spears, and my first songs were imitations of her style, with lots of postured longing & “oh baby”‘s thrown in.
Bright Lite: What role did music play in your life?
Katie: At first, it was something I did without thinking, because it was fun. As well as recording my a capella songs, my sister and I would dance around with shakers and tambourines, and I had a little toy keyboard I wrote a song about my friends on. From 5th grade through high school, as I started to take flute lessons, music became something I needed to practice diligently, even when I didn’t feel like it. When I joined the orchestra in high school, I felt pressure to earn first chair, and place in state-wide competitions. In some ways, music started to cause me pain and anxiety. My senior year of college, after years of going to local shows and having friends who played in rock bands, I finally worked up the nerve to teach myself guitar, and to share my pain and desire through songs.
Bright Lite: Is that how you write songs?
Katie: It’s different every time. Sometimes I’ll pull a line out of the air or from a dream or a book and think: that could be a song title. The title then dictates the mood of the chords I strum on the guitar. Sometimes I’ll find a melody and the lyrics will come later. I’m more likely to write a song if I have a harmony of free time, my hands on the guitar, and a clear-head.
Bright Lite: What do you think the best part of being a musician is?
Katie: The feeling of satisfaction and relief I get when I write a song that resonates with me. It’s also been an unexpected joy and privilege that, through sharing my songs, I’ve gotten to join an incredible community of artists.
Bright Lite: What were some of the challenges you faced in the journey of becoming a musician?
Katie: My biggest challenge was dealing with self-doubt. Through studying the classical flute, I’d been told there was a “right” and “wrong” way to play music. When trying to work up the nerve to play the guitar, I didn’t want to do it “wrong.” I also had the nagging feeling that, at 20, I was “too old” to ever be very good at the instrument, to ever be a prodigy, a thought that makes me laugh a little now. It’s true that the music industry is very youth-centric, something I benefit from by happening to seem younger than I am, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from valuing and acting on their desire to create and express themselves.
Bright Ltite: Where is your favorite place to perform?
Katie: In my room, alone, hah 🙂 Also, in someone’s house in front of friends.
Bright Lite: How would you describe your music?
Katie: Empathetic. Not claiming to have answers. Trying to be honest about my struggles and joys in the attempt to connect with others.
Bright Lite: If you could go back in time and talk to your 13 year old self, what would you say?
Katie: It’s cool to be a weirdo and you shouldn’t be ashamed. Dye your hair blue if you want to, even if it makes your parents upset. If you are sad and try to tell someone about it, don’t let them tell you you’re being dramatic, or that you’re crying “just for attention.” Try to be honest about your feelings somewhere that won’t scold you, like in your journal, or through a camera or guitar or microphone. Love your friends but give them space to be their own people. If you have a crush on someone, tell them. If they don’t like you, let it hurt for a bit, but hold your head up high knowing you are utterly lovable.
Bright Lite: What advice would you give to young aspiring musicians?
Katie: Practice! Play as much as you can, whenever you can. Go to shows, talk to musicians you admire, express your enthusiasm and desire. Schedule your job/ relationships/ life around playing music. Depending on what your goals are, like if you want to tour or record for a month, you may have to make sacrifices, like postponing/ forgoing school or accepting a low-paying but flexible job. Also know that you are still a “musician” if you want to stay in your room and write one song a year and never show it to anyone. You get to decide what brings you joy and fulfillment.