Rare Candy had the chance to chat with Katie Bennett, the Philly-based, whimsical lead singer of Free Cake For Every Creature, about her love of journaling, and the challenges of growing up and finding yourself.
Rare Candy: I imagine it must be a little scary to put so much of yourself and your life out into the world through your music. What inspired you to share your thoughts and feelings? How do you manage to be so honest?
Free Cake For Every Creature: Yes, it’s true, it’s terrifying! When I first started making music, it took me a long time to share it. Equally as scary as sharing my innermost thoughts & feelings was sharing my beginner-status songwriting, music-playing, and production skills. I honestly never thought I’d play a show or share my music at all, but friends encouraged me to make a Bandcamp, and once I did, people started asking me to play shows. From there, I decided to just say yes, remembering that if my musical heroes had never shared their work, my life would be much sadder. I’m so glad I decided to and continue to put myself out there, as scary as it can be sometimes. I’ve gotten to travel the country and meet the best people and learn important things about myself.
RC: Growing up is a central theme to a lot of your work, and you have mentioned your love of journaling. Do you have any favorite memories from your childhood?
Free Cake: Some of my favorite childhood memories are from the summers I spent playing in my backyard with my sister. We had a little slide and swingset that we’d flip around on all day, pretending we were in the circus, until our parents would call us for a dinner of barbecue on our deck. We’d eat while watching the sky change to a dark blue, the moon poking through and fireflies lighting up around us. Pretty idyllic.
RC: So, how long have you kept a journal? Is journaling something you would recommend to others? Do you ever find yourself looking back on past entries?
Free Cake: I’ve kept a journal on and off since I was ten, and I would absolutely recommend that anyone keep one. I do go back and read entries occasionally - it’s been a helpful way to be honest with myself about my experiences, especially when trying to unpack painful memories. It’s also a fun way to observe the progression of my relationships with certain people, particularly my current partner, who I’ve been dating for almost five years. Sometimes I’ll read entries and actually scoff at how off my observations were, or how minimizing of a certain person’s personality, but then I remember that at the time, it’s all I knew.
RC: In your song “Chubby Cows” you talk about doodling in your journal. Do you take time to enjoy other forms of art beyond just music? Any favorite visual artists?
Free Cake: Yes! I love to write and draw and take pictures and video. Being in a band is especially fun and fulfilling for me because it gives me the opportunity to satisfy my other creative interests through designing merch, taking our own pictures and video, etc. Some of my favorite visual artists at the moment are Regina Schilling, Sally Mann, and Francesca Woodman.
RC: In contrast to your personal narrative approach, would you ever consider something like a concept album and/or focusing on a specific creative theme for an album?
Free Cake: Definitely. I’m actually thinking about that for our next album, which we’ll start recording when we get home from tour in two weeks. It will still contain my personal narrative approach, but be loosely focused on a specific aspect of my life, I think, likely my coming-of-age and girlhood, a period of my life that I’m leaving behind as I’m approaching the second half of my twenties. I’ve been thinking about the next album in the same way that I might the planning of a book or a memoir, with songs being the different chapters of my experience. I’ve been able to access certain girlhood and teenage memories more clearly now that I’ve had some distance from them, and there are things I want to communicate about my experiences that I haven’t been able to until recently. That concept doesn’t deviate too far from the types of songs I’ve written so far, but I’d also love to write an album of songs about an even more specific theme like the seasons, or fruits & vegetables, etc. I love to explore and experiment, and I’m always open to trying new things.
RC: Since the start of your career, how do you think your music has changed, and how have you changed as a person? What advice would you give your younger self?
Free Cake: The biggest thing that’s changed about my music since I first started playing a few years ago is that I’ve become so much more confident in myself as a performer, musician, and songwriter. I often still struggle with confidence, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know that in some ways, I do know what I’m doing, and that I can trust myself. With my fairly newfound confidence, I feel like in some ways I’m just getting started. There’s still so much I have to say.
In terms of advice to my younger self, I’m lucky in that I was able to give myself the advice I needed at the time. I was able to tell myself to keep going, that as long as I kept at it, kept playing shows and writing songs, that I would improve. And I have.
RC: What are your thoughts on modern mental health culture? What would you recommend to someone who is trying to navigate their own mental health journey?
Free Cake: Well, everyone’s path to taking care of their mental health is different. Sometimes when I haven’t been feeling well, it’s been enough to talk to a friend. Other times, I’ve realized that I needed to be extremely diligent in unpacking painful experiences, and in those circumstances, have sought out therapy. I try to do what genuinely feels good and comfortable and safe to me, rather than what I think I should be doing.
RC: You’re currently on tour with Adult Mom, how has the tour been so far? Any favorite stops or cities?
Free Cake: The tour has been fantastic, my favorite tour I’ve ever been on. Everyone in Adult Mom is so kind and supportive, and my bandmates and I have been touring together long enough that we know how to communicate well with each other and just really enjoy each others’ company. The shows have been well attended, and we’ve been to beautiful parts of the country. No complaints. And I love all of the Pacific Northwest! The mountains, the water, the cool and comfortable weather…
RC: Just a few quick and fun questions...
Favorite kind of cake?
Free Cake: Vanilla! Dyed blue or something...
RC: Favorite creature (mythical or real)?
Free Cake: Totoro
RC: Anything you’d like to plug? Cool movies to watch, books to read, music to listen to? Anything at all!
Free Cake: Allyson Foster! Just played with her last night in Bellingham and her music is so mesmerizing and beautiful.
Keep up with Free Cake on tour by checking out their website: http://www.freecakeforeverycreature.com/
Listen to them on Bandcamp: https://freecakeforeverycreature.bandcamp.com/