We’ve posted about Free Cake For Every Creature a number of times here at WTD, and lead Katie Bennett was even kind enough to donate a song to our Quiet Constant Friends compilation. Bennett has put out a number of releases over the past few years, namely several full-length albums on the ever-reliable Double Double Whammy, cementing herself as one of the leads of the bedroom pop movement pushed by DDW, Orchid Tapes and the like. Even in a genre built upon a certain degree of honesty and earnestness, Free Cake’s music stands out for its sincerity, managing to communicate the turbulent and often conflicting experience that is being a young adult today without sacrificing warmth and energy. The result is a fine balance, maintaining a degree of naivety to allow for wonder and connection while being aware enough to avoid retreating into mawkish sentimentality or childish denial. The music of Free Cake For Every Creature is thus a tonic for the cynicism and pessimism of our time.
When we heard that Super Fan 99 was releasing Talking Quietly of Anything With You and “Pretty Good” on one cassette for European audiences, we thought it would be a good time to have a chat with Bennett to explore her songwriting and the reasoning behind her transatlantic venture.
Hi Katie, thanks for speaking with us! You have just re-released two of your albums, “Pretty Good” & Talking Quietly of Anything With You in the UK and Europe on Super Fan 99. How did that opportunity come about? And are you excited to share your music with a whole new audience?
Hey, thank you! Luke Barham, owner of Super Fan 99, messaged me on Facebook about six months ago asking if I’d want to put out a cassette with them. I was excited by the idea of having tapes available in the UK because we’d ultimately like to go and play over there. I checked out the Super Fan website, loved the sounds and look of their label, and trusted Luke to make our release special.
There are also plans to cross the Atlantic for your first UK tour. That must be really exciting. Have you visited the UK before? Is there anywhere you’re particularly excited to visit/play in?
I may have been a little premature in revealing our plans to tour the UK, because as of right now we don’t have the funds to, but it’s definitely in our long-term plan. We’ve never played outside of the US & Canada, and I’ve never been to Europe save for a trip to London with my family when I was eleven. But we’ll get there!
The cassette also comes with a mini zine that you have made. What can people expect from that?
The zine contains a series of diary entries I wrote over the course of our progression as a band. It gives a little insight into how starting a band and getting over insecurities can be extremely difficult, but is ultimately extremely rewarding.
Your songs always sound very personal. Are they based on your own experiences? Do you keep a diary or something that forms the basis of your songs?
My songs are always based on my own experiences, and often the seeds of them come from things I’ve discovered through writing a journal entry. Initially, when I didn’t think people would ever hear my songs, I would write and record them in the midst of a strong feeling as a way to document that feeling and my personal history in general.
I love to listen to these kinds of audible journal entries/ “demo” songs from other artists, and I continue to make them myself (while also often focusing on crafting songs). Now that I’m aware there’s a small audience for my music, I’ve been holding onto these sorts of songs and thinking about how/ if I want to put them out. I’ve been curating more, thinking about my intentions, and asking myself, “What do I want to say/ show by sharing this?” because I know people will be asking that of the songs and I want to have an answer.
At least to me, Talking Quietly of Anything With You, is about getting older in your own way, about leaving behind teenage years but not completely all the feelings that go along with them. Would you say this a fair assessment? Is the album about a specific period in your life, and if so, what inspired it?
The album is for/ about anyone who is in a period of transition, is unsure of their life-plan, or just likes pop music and enjoys a little humor/ absurdity.
That being said, I wrote the album in my early 20s, and I think you’re right in saying that that specific time period is heavily reflected in the lyrical content of the album. It was a difficult time for me, between moving somewhere new, trying to find a job, trying to make new friends, etc. In many ways, even though it’s been a few years since I wrote those songs, I still feel and relate to that struggle. Now I’m just used to the feeling of being unsettled, it isn’t oppressive.
Is there anything else that you consider a major inspiration? Perhaps books, films, other people’s music?
Yes to all! I spend a lot of time reading, and often I’ll come across a word or phrase that jolts me and I’ll have to stop and write a poem or song or journal entry. I recently re-read two books that I’ve loved for years and that inspire me a ton: Diane di Prima’s “Recollections of My Life as a Woman” and Kate Zambreno’s “Green Girl.”
The final track On “Pretty Good” is a cover of REM’s ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)’, a song which seems pretty relevant in light of recent events. Without asking you to provide a hot take on US/global politics, what’s your take on all this? And how can we all do a little to fight bigotry and hate?
Keep doing the work you love and believe in. Keep going, be bold, don’t be afraid.
Last month, thirty six beautiful artists and musicians, some of whom I’d met and many of whom were friends of friends, lost their lives in the Ghost Ships fire in Oakland. Since then, conservative groups (fueled & encouraged by Trump’s win) have been using that horrific event as an excuse to try and shut down artist’s spaces by harrassing them online and telling fire departments the spaces are “unsafe.” A few places we were supposed to play on this tour got moved because they’d been threatened. Someone even brought a gun into one of the spaces the previous month and shot the ceiling. The threat is real and ridiculous, and while safety is our priority, we can’t just stop playing shows and making music because we are afraid. Making music and playing shows and connecting to that community is a life-line for me and for so many people.
Finally, could you name 4/5 bands or artists that you’re into at the moment. They can be brand new or golden oldies, whatever you’ve been listening to.
I’m so lucky and grateful that people from my favorite music projects are touring with me as the free cake band. Drummer Francis Lyons plays/ records as ylayali, lead guitar Evan Marré is Russel the Leaf and bassist Heeyoon Won is Boosegumps.
You can get “Pretty Good” & Talking Quietly of Anything With You as a double tape and zine package from Super Fan 99 Records, and be sure to check out the Free Cake For Every Creature Bandcamp page for previous releases.