Free Cake For Every Creature: The Icing on Top of POP Montreal
Frontwoman Katie Bennett Talks Ugly Muffins and Figuring Your Shit Out
What does it mean to have your shit together? Is it showing up on time? Making your bed every morning? Actually sitting down to eat dinner? Is it inviting people over and not being ashamed of your apartment?
Who really has their shit together? Is it important—as a concept—to have one’s shit together, or is just a fallacy that we’ve made up in order to shame ourselves into thinking that we could be doing “better?”
In any case, this is the kind of the thing that American band Free Cake for Every Creature address with their lo-fi, indie-pop tunes.
They were in our fine, somewhat dirty—but somehow always lovely—city for POP Montreal’s 15th edition.
It’s a crisp fall day in Jean Talon when I go to meet Katie Bennett. The sun’s rays warm my face as I stroll up to the light brown station wagon parked on St. Laurent St. Bennett is sitting in the front seat, packets of Advil strewn around her feet.
She smiles as she opens the car door. “I’m kind of sick,” she tells me. We agree on walking through Jarry Park to find a nice place to chat.
Bennett is the singer, guitar player, and songwriter in the charming foursome that is Free Cake for Every Creature. “I’m also the manager and tour booker,” she trailed on. “I do it all.”
The band is currently on tour with Diet Cig, a duo from New Paltz, New York. The two bands played at Le Ritz last Saturday, along with Nancy Pants and Silver Dapple.
Free Cake is reminiscent of those days when you feel kinda bummy, but are overall still pretty happy—you know? If you like the Juno soundtrack or artists such as Frankie Cosmos, you’d probably be into this band. They have a D.I.Y. vibe, and Bennett’s pitchy voice paired with hilariously relatable lyrics and summery chillin-in-the-van beats just makes for one of the cutest bands you’ll ever find.
Free Cake for Every Creature is a pretty unique band name—it paints a picture, for sure. But Bennett doesn’t remember where it came from. “I’m sure veganism has something to do with it,” she said. But more broadly, she said, it has to do with being inclusive. “Creatures” implies all beings—animals and humans alike.
“So would you give free cake to all the creatures?” I asked.
She laughs. “Well, not if the person has diabetes or something. I wouldn’t give a dog chocolate.”
“I wouldn’t give a dog chocolate“— Katie Bennett, Free Cake For Every Creature
Like many of us, Bennett is a student. We’ve all come to know that balancing our education with what we actually want to be doing can be challenging, to say the least.
“I’m in grad school for creative writing, which is definitely cool,” the musician said. “Last year, I was definitely trying to prioritize school—it would still be nice to be a professor one day—but recently I am focused on music over school, so I’m missing some classes to be on this tour. And that feels better [for me] right now.”
She absentmindedly twirled a piece of grass between her fingers before stopping to think for a moment. Bennett admits that her college days were all over the place, and for a couple years, life was a bit hectic.
She recalled being 20 and selling her flute to buy a guitar. “Even though my parents bought me that flute, I was like ‘fuck it.’ I’ve always really wanted to play music, but [until then] it was never something I thought I could seriously do.”
“School and writing at least […] it’s more professional. You can totally be a writer,” she laughed. “That’s like, a legit job.”
Bennett also explained that a lack of female musicians in her life added to her doubts. “I just didn’t know any women who played music. And everyone that I did know was a really advanced dude. I felt really alone for a lot of it—but then I found comfort on the Internet.”
Off of their latest record, Talking Quietly of Anything With You, there are a few lyrics that really speak to me. But one song, “All you’ve gotta be when you’re 23 is yourself” asks what it really means to have your shit together.
“I mean, it’s definitely not important to worry about [getting it together] as much as we do,” Bennett started. “Where I grew up, you needed to have a career, things had to be stable, it was a little—quite—uptight.” Bennett went to boarding school in Upstate New York.
“But it’s definitely important to support yourself and take care of yourself financially,” Bennet said. “But you can do that. People do that and live and survive everyday.”
Despite feeling under the weather, Free Cake’s show at Le Ritz went smoothly. They played some new tracks, some old tracks, and overall their set was playful and welcoming—drawing the crowd of young and hips closer to the stage.
Free Cake’s most recent record is totally rad—an embodiment of millennial feelings towards love, life, work and dreams. Bennett sings about baking lopsided muffins and being too embarrassed to give them to her friends. So consequently, she eats muffins for dinner.
On her weird, quirky song subjects, Bennett explained that she didn’t really have much intention, but was just exploring her realm of playful songwriting. Now she’s looking to dig deeper—perhaps on the next record.
“How do I sing about the things I think about everyday? Like my body, and how do I sing about anger? I’m trying to push myself a little more recently, and explore things with more intention—but in a way that doesn’t negate my weird instincts.”