For the month of October, we're excited to showcase Wisconsin songwriter Mackenzie Benish. In our interview with Mackenzie, she shares her greatest accomplishments as a songwriter, fills us in on her new project and talks about some upcoming goals. We hope you enjoy learning about another member who makes up the great Frettie community. Never hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments below or reach out to Mackenzie on Frettie if you have any questions for her or would like to work with her on a project. I'm sure she'd love to hear from you.
Q: Where do you call home?
I live in the beautiful cheese land of Wisconsin!
Q: How did you get started in songwriting?
Since before I can remember my sister Morgan and I would spend hours trying to write songs. I would tell her how I felt and she would write the lyrics. I would then play the guitar and come up with a melody. I would try to add my two cents as far as lyrics go but I wasn't the best. Morgan could always create the most poetic, meaningful lyrics and I always admired that, so I kept pushing myself to become half the lyricist she is! I've gotten better at writing over the years but she still helps me out when I'm blocked.
Q: What is your songwriting process typicaly like?
I am very inconsistent whilst writing songs. I have done it every which way. Music first, lyrics first, both together. As of late I will start writing 2-3 songs with just the first verse and chorus. I"ll let those linger for a few weeks or months till I get around to either discarding or finishing them.
Q: Who are your top three favorite artists or songwriters?
Christina Perri is one of my biggest inspirations. For me she is the whole package. With her vocals and lyrics you can’t get much better than that! She keeps it simple and keeps the lyrics as the main focus of her music. I also love The Civil Wars. They are amazing! Their harmonies and lyrics are perfection. I could go on for days about them!
Also, The Head And The Heart. They sing my favorite song of all time “Rivers and Roads”. If you have not heard it be sure to check it out!
Bonus: 4th favorite artist/songwriter (because I am a rebel like that), London Grammar. Yhey can do no wrong.
Q: What album are you currently listening to?
Speaking of London Grammar... I've been listening to their album “If You Wait”. I have been telling EVERYONE that they need to listen to them and love them. Every song on that album is beautiful. Not to mention her crazy voice! Gah!
Q: How do you stay inspired?
I keep thinking and feeling deeply. I try to stay vulnerable and write about things I need to say to myself and others.
Q: What's your biggest challenge as a songwriter?
I think confidence is a big thing that affects my writing and preforming. I don’t really fit in to a mold. I can’t do things the way other people do things. It just doesn’t work and that can be very intimidating. Thankfully that has improved over this past year as I have developed my style! I have had a hard time with recording. I have decided to dedicate some time to really focus on at least laying down a few tracks for demos. Frettie pushes me to record, because I can see what the other artists are doing and also get great feedback from them on my stuff. I just put out my song “What I Am Singing For” and will hopefully get more up soon.
Q: What time of day do you prefer to write your music and where?
I write my music late at night, usually 2, 3, 4 in the morning. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to bed thinking I just wrote the best song ever on the planet, only to wake up and realize that it is completely horrible! The struggle is real folks!
Q: What's your favorite memory as a songwriter or musician?
I took a trip to Nashville with the family for a wedding and we stopped and toured the Ryman Auditorium. My sister had looked ahead and saw that they do this tourist attraction where they will record you singing a song from a list of music they have. You can also sing an original. I decided to do an original song and that's where “Somewhat Intriguing” was recorded.
Q: What are some of your greatest accomplishments to date?
Like I stated above, being able to say I recorded a song in Nashville! From that recording people started to take me more seriously as a Singer-Songwriter. I have also been able to play a couple bigger shows in Madison and Milwaukee. This summer, I was able to be a part of the Make Music Madison which is a festival apart of the summer solstice celebration around the world! I also just played at my grandma’s senior living center along with a few of my friends. My grandma was the talk of the town for a few days after!
Q: If you could provide any advice to up and coming songwriters, what would it be?
Don't force it. Music should come from your soul. Be vulnerable, don’t be afraid to say your own thoughts and feelings. Simple as that. People relate to people who are honest and real so don’t be afraid to show people your vulnerable music.
Q: What online tools do you use today for songwriting?
Obviously, Frettie has helped with feedback on songs from respected writers! I also use the dictionary.com and their thesaurus to find new and better words and Rhymezone.com when I'm looking for exact or close rhyming words.
Q: How has Frettie benefited you and the songwriting community?
Frettie has pushed me to the next level. It motivates me to try and keep up with some very talented artists and receive feedback and advice on my songs. I always like to connect with artists and follow and support their music. Frettie's profiles and the added ability to link to other social media sites help me keep up with what's going on with others in the industry as well as put myself out there to receive the same support!
Q: What's next for you?
What is next? Well, as I stated previously I am going to try and record some more songs in the next couple weeks/months. And as always play for whoever is willing to listen.
Q: Thanks for your time Mackenzie. We look forward to connecting with you on Frettie. Where can readers find you online to keep updated on what you are doing?
Thank you to everyone involved in running Frettie. I am thrilled to be a part of this community. I am impressed with the quick responses to questions and the willingness to further this website! Keep up the great work guys! You can find my information by liking my Facebook Page. You can also download a few of my songs at my Bandcamp Page.
Photo credit: Joelle DeMeyer Photography