Discuss the composition of this song.
“Therapy” started out as a statement I wrote down on a sheet of notebook paper, which I sat down on my desk for about a week. I had been processing the events that had happened to me in the past year—a move back from a crowded life in Nashville, TN to Midwestern Indianapolis, IN, several family deaths, and a regional tour during which (unbeknownst to me at the time) I was battling mono. I had spent an entire year feeling defeated, exhausted, and creatively drained. I felt like I needed therapy, so instead of going to therapy, I decided to capture that emotion in a song.
State the name of your producer and elaborate on the production of the song.
My producer, Jon Class of the Varsity Recording Co., is a wizard. When we originally met up for pre-production, it became clear that keeping the sound organic, authentic, and vintage was the top priority. Jon brought in a variety of players to give their own flare to the track, each contributing to our original vision while taking the music to the next level. We drew from elements and influence from the bands Vulpeck, Alabama Shakes, and Lake Street Dive.
Go into details on the lyrics of the song.
When I see myself in the mirror, I can picture my old self: someone consumed with a busy lifestyle, making a living, becoming successful, looking good—things that led me to a place I would rather forget. No matter how many times I look in the mirror, I’ll still catch remnants of a past self that I’d rather forget—but I chose to not keep that life in tow. “Cause every time I look in the mirror, I see your face a little clearer, you left a part of you with me, whether you like it or not—get out of my head.”
The entire song is an ode to my past self, but not in the way you might imagine. It’s coming to the realization that there are parts of me that I really hate, and building up the courage to face those parts of me so that I can keep moving forward.
“My wish for you is nothing more than what you deserve, that every sign and page would write your name off the Earth”
There aren’t a lot of lyrics in the song, but that was intentional—I wanted to keep it simple and straightforward. Oftentimes when I sing the chorus it’s almost like a chant to keep that part of myself away, but other nights it feels like more of a declaration.
Elaborate on your music career.
Back in 2012, I released my first self-titled EP under my maiden name, Kristen Bennett. I was a sophomore in college and fronted a folk-rock, pop band. I spent several years playing regularly in the Ohio River Valley. Being a native of Dayton, Ohio I had grown up learning jazz guitar from a local musician who would bring me out to his jazz gigs. It was an incredible experience to have at such a young age, and I am still so grateful for the opportunity I had to learn from such a renowned jazz guitarist.
In 2013 I released my sophomore EP “Someone Else’s Eyes” as a tribute to my late grandparents and the impact they had on my life. I played regularly throughout my college town, Anderson, Indiana, and came home on weekends to play shows with my hometown band. I spent that year writing music for an indie flick, Titans of PS-271, and collaborating with filmmakers to create a fantastic soundtrack.
In 2014-2015 I moved to Nashville, TN, and participated in a three-month showcase at the Contemporary Music Center, several months full of weekday gigs, writing in the studio, and production prep working up to a regional tour at the end of the season. I moved to Nashville preceding that experience, taking a short hiatus from the folk project, Kristen Bennett music.
In 2017 I revamped my music with “Merry Little EP” a collection of jazz-inspired Christmas covers, recorded in a very chill, living room setting. I spent the rest of that year cultivating a new sound, a new image, and a completely new brand: “Kristen”. We recorded three consecutive singles, one of which was the latest release “Therapy”.
“Therapy” ushers in a new era for the band, a metamorphosis of the old folk number to a groovy band inspired by the likes of Elle King, Alabama Shakes, and Lake Street Dive. We love an insatiable groove, big guitars, and a soulful vibe.
Brief us on how you are reaching fans with your music.
I love my fans! I like to keep a good balance of social media and connecting through live shows. I play regularly in Indianapolis, but I also venture out to Cincinnati, Nashville, Louisville, Chicago, and northern Indiana. I love meeting new faces, old friends, and new fans at every show—but I also am a social media addict. I think it’s awesome to connect via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I love to actually engage in those who really care about my music, and I feel like it’s the best I can do in return for such amazing support for the music I love to make.
Discuss your motive behind making music.
Aside from not knowing how to do anything else—or being too stubborn to do anything but make some headway and simply make my path music—I love creating. I want to make something new that people can engage in, but also best represents what I know. I believe that I can be the most transparent version of myself when I’m making music, whether in a writing session, catching up with co-writers, talking with promoters, or waiting backstage. I want the music I make to inspire others; but even more than that, I hope that I can be remembered as someone who loved well and lived kindly through every interaction I make within my musical career.
So I guess if I had to sum it all up in one brief explanation: to connect with people in an organic, authentic way.
Discuss the process of your songwriting.
I like to set up an environment to song write — I’m a big fan of having a rhythm (no pun intended) especially when it comes to developing and generating ideas. I wake up before 10 am, usually between 6-8 am. The thoughts I have first thing in the morning are unfiltered and open, it leaves a lot of room for my brain to be flexible. I set aside a couple of hours, and gather ideas from quotes, pictures, and books I’ve been reading. I fill a few pages or so with a brainstorm, and start to strum out a progression I feel like fitting the mood of the collection of my thoughts. After I settle in on a hook (or perhaps just a start), the lyrics tend to compliment the mood and structure of the song.
After this process I get a lot more specific about the song—I’ll draw outlines, make production notes, re-write lines, etc.
After about an hour or so I’ll hash out a melody that I feel is appropriate.
I’m always open to re-writing or letting a song hang around a few weeks before I move forward in the process. All good things take time, and good music is not an exception to that value.
Brief us about your work and achievement so far in your music career.
When I was younger I began my musical career during guitar lessons—my guitar teacher took me along to play at local jazz guitar festivals and smaller, intimate gigs where I truly learned how to engage during a concert setting. Being an avid writer already (I enjoyed writing poems, short stories, and even started writing some of my own books) I quickly found ways to put words I had written to songs, which became a culmination of my first EP, a self-titled release in 2012.
I re-located to Indianapolis for college, in pursuit of a music business degree. I learned a whole new aspect of the industry while growing in my own knowledge of my instrument. I played locally throughout college, with several different college bands as well as my own bandmates.
As I grew in my knowledge of the business and cultivated my songwriting skills, I felt like I needed to release more music. We recorded a few tunes in the infamous Gaither Studios in Alexandria, IN, a space treasured by musical legends such as Sandi Patti and Michael English. In the fall of 2014, I released “Someone Else’s Eyes” an EP dedicated to the love I saw between my grandparents. I spent the year playing on weekends throughout the Ohio River Valley, and finished off the year coordinating a soundtrack of my own songs for an indie film, “Titans of PS-271”. I continued to grow in my ingenuity of the music business and worked tirelessly to volunteer my time and effort to create strategic marketing plans for several local bands. Later that year I received the NAMM Presidential Innovation Award for music business excellence.
To cap off my senior year, I moved to Nashville to fulfill an internship at the Contemporary Music Center. I spent an entire season writing, recording, performing weekly showcases, and learning the ins and outs of the music industry. We finished off the internship with a regional tour and I came off the road with five studio recordings. In the summer of 2015, I moved to Nashville, TN working three jobs—booking agent, part-time sales associate, and tour manager. It was a busy, crowded life, but I was completely plugged in to the industry in a 24-7 kind of way.
As January rolled around, I began to reevaluate my life. I hadn’t written any songs since I had been out of school and felt like I was consumed with my work. I moved back to Indiana to pursue a part-time teaching job, which eventually turned into full-time music directing, vocal coaching, and producing gig. I started to write and didn’t have any intention of stopping. I made a promise to myself to start utilizing my booking skills for my own musical career, and actually use the knowledge of the business I had gathered for an entirely new project. In December of 2016, I released “Merry Little EP” on a whim—a short collection of Christmas covers with a jazz twist, complete with a warm, living room feel. That release kickstarted 2017.
What was original “Kristen Bennett Music” a folk group with tendencies towards pop, rock, and mainstream, became simply “Kristen” a collection of music that came from my roots in jazz and blues. I spent that spring in the studio recording “Therapy”, a groovy, vintage track capturing the essence of my experience in Nashville. That summer I spent every weekend on the road, playing 2-3 shows per weekend throughout the Midwest in Chicago, Nashville, Dayton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, South Bend, and more.
This year marks a metamorphosis of the old sound into an entirely new era. The band has transformed, and the music has as well. This year we will be releasing an additional two singles and taking to the road to promote the music.
Tell us your opinion on using a rhymes dictionary or writing software to develop lyrics.
I know it’s a cliché, but I love to use Thesaurus.com to get my words flowing. Even when crafting an e-mail, when I’m at a loss for words I pull the website up in my browser. When I was younger and thrived on writing books, poems, and the like, I used a handheld Thesaurus to spring inspiration when I lacked the motivation.
Discuss what is old and what is new in the music industry as in overall changes.
The music industry is changing on a daily basis, and it has since the internet came to be. The way we access music, the structure in which we create it—even the accessibility to the tools needed to create a hit record.
Anyone can release and record a record, which not only has expanded the depths of the music industry but also forced the business to change the way you can market, promote, and fashion a brand.
Being a teacher, I watch my students create and disperse music in ways I’ve never seen before. The ingenuity behind this new generation of musicians is infectious and gives me hope that no matter the amount of change the music industry undergoes, there will still be a culture of raw, unadulterated, successful talent.
Elaborate on how you prepare yourself for a recording session.
As much as I love the spontaneous, raw cut of a new song, I like to take the time to run through my songs before I get into a studio space. I don’t want to run the risk of wasting time cutting vocal tracks over and over again or put the time and effort of my team in jeopardy.
I put a lot of thought into pre-production and taking the time to shape an idea and let it sit and cultivate before venturing into the studio. I want to produce something that best represents my original idea when I sat down to craft the song, but also create music that’s relevant and interesting to the listener’s ear.
I also try and spend the weeks up to the recording preserving my voice and getting an adequate amount of sleep (never take those hours for granted!) to put on an adequate performance to do the music justice.
Brief us on your preference in terms of tempo as in up-tempo, mid-tempo, or slow tempo.
Does a swung tempo count?
I’m a jazz guitarist, I swing everything. I think every musician has a natural groove that they feel most comfortable in, perhaps something that was practiced over and over again when they first picked up an instrument until it became ingrained in their subconscious.
I would say if anything mid-tempo is my wheelhouse. I can swing it; I can take the time to make the vocal interesting without losing its authenticity, and really sink into the tempo.
Discuss your shows or live performance.
I love recording, but I believe the best way to reach fans is through a live performance. Some bands only spend a couple of days performing for a tour, but I take quite a few weeks to process, practice, and think through our live show.
I want to engage in experience fans and friends will remember, and not just show up to play my songs—that’s nothing new if they’ve heard the recordings already. I put all that I have into my live performance, from the energy exerted during the show to the preparation leading up to it. I make it a point to invest in every person that shows up to support the show, too. I want to make the live show a memorable experience, to whatever audience or room we play in.
Discuss working as a full-time or part-time musician.
I split my time as a musician up as a teacher and an independent singer/songwriter, and I love it. Oftentimes, I learn more from the kids I teach than they learn from me—it keeps me on my toes as a musician, but also allows the growth I need as a guitar player and a singer. I’m constantly singing—taking students through warm-ups, explaining vocal techniques, and looking for better ways to teach and reach my students. I like to study before I implement teaching, but I also put those things I teach into practice on the road.
Send a message across to your fans and supporters.
I cannot thank you enough for your support and encouragement throughout my entire musical career. Whether you’ve been there since “Kristen Bennett Music” or just joined me for the journey, thank you for lending me your ears. I hope that no matter what place in life you’re at, that I can keep making music that engages, connects, and entertains.
Discuss the storyline of the song.
When I came home from Nashville, I carried a lot of baggage. I spent an entire year consumed a busy life, but also experienced four deaths in my family over the course of two years. I remember coming home that year to two consecutive funerals, literally a week apart. A lot was going on in my life, and before even beginning to create the music I took out a sheet of paper and wrote down “Therapy”.
I knew at the time I needed therapy, but instead, I just decided to write that statement down, so I would remember that place I was in. Months later, I came back to that sheet of paper and decided to write a song about my experience.
I didn’t want to make the lyrics very specific, hoping that I could reach a broader emotion with the kind of emotion I was having.
Tell us what makes this song unique from others.
This song is built on musical layers. In the opening few lines, the instrumentation is sparse, but the bass, drums, and guitar establish an insatiable groove. As the hook cuts into the chorus, the audible layers build with vocal harmony, keys, and organ.
The breakdown was meant to sound like the inside of a brain during a therapy session: phased-out talking, a far-out guitar solo–it feels like you’re out in space.
“Get out of my head” can be taken so many ways, but I feel like musically, the song captures that lyric in an interesting way.
Plus, it’s got a vintage, groovy vibe that sticks with you long after the track is over.
Tell us the subject matter of most of your composition.
I love to write from my own experience, the things I know the best. I enjoy writing a storyline, but for the most part, I sneak in some sort of experience I’ve had in hopes that it will resonate with the listener’s own experience.
State the links to your social media and stores.