The Covid pandemic shook the music industry to its core. In what felt like the blink of an eye, artists, fans and industry folks alike had live music, and for a time, recording, taken away. When music is all you know, a sudden stop can rock artists like Ben Kadlecek.
In the midst of settling in to his new normal, Kadlecek wrote down the first verse to what has become his new single, “Feel.” It took him two years to feel comfortable revisiting those emotions to finish the song as he dealt with his way of life being put on hold. Now, with music back to full-steam-ahead in his life, Kadlecek is looking to continue the momentum he found from his busy 2022 release schedule.
We chatted with Kadlecek all about “Feel,” as well as his successful 2022, more new music, filming music videos for the first time and more!
Pro Country: 2022 as your busiest release year to date, as you released seven singles throughout the year. How important was it for you to stay active with new releases and continue to give your listeners new content throughout the year?
Ben Kadlecek: It was extremely important for me to stay active with new releases. Streaming, and Spotify in particular, have changed the game for artists. I know for up and coming artists like myself, it’s very hard to hold an audience’s attention span with a full album and then go quiet for the rest of the year, so keeping new songs in front of people and continuing to create buzz around my name is high on my priority list.
PC: Your 2022 single “Ghosts” landed on BMI’s Texas Top Ten playlist, while “Tell Me” landed on Spotify’s ‘Fresh Finds Country’ curated playlist. How encouraging was it to see your songs amongst some of the brightest rising artists in the genre and to get the push that those playlists can give?
BK: Seeing those two songs land on a big playlist was a huge boost to my confidence as a songwriter and performer. It’s such a high and low world in this industry, so I definitely felt some validation seeing that. The folks at BMI, particularly Mitch Ballard in the Austin, TX office, have been so great to me this past year. Beyond featuring “Ghosts” on their Top 10, they’ve helped set up awesome co-writes for me, put me in a very cool writer’s round at the famous Saxon Pub, allowed me to connect to some awesome people in Nashville and have just been there to answer any questions I have about navigating this industry. I hope these next songs can find the same success.
PC: You’ve said that it took you three years to write and feel comfortable releasing your newest single, “Feel.” As release day was approaching and the song was released into the world, what emotions were you feeling with finally having the song available?
BK: There was definitely a feeling of nervousness seeing this song come out, but mostly a feeling of release. It’s taken so long for me to “feel” comfortable letting the world into the part of my head that I think a lot of people share but hardly anyone is comfortable to talk about, which is something I have become a big proponent of.
PC: You’ve also said that “Feel” was inspired by the Covid pandemic, more specifically, when music was largely put on pause. Can you take us in your head and talk about how the song came together and the effect that the Covid shutdown had on you emotionally?
BK: The pandemic was such a weird shared chapter in all of our lives. Music has always been THE way I express myself, and it was the first thing taken away and one of the last things to come back as result of Covid. I’ve dealt with depression for a while now, but during those almost three years, I found myself in a really dark place that I didn’t recognize or like at all. I felt like I was somehow at fault for not being able to do the thing I loved most. My therapist has actually described it as similar to “a death that I’ve had to process through.” I had the piano and first verse for almost two years before I went back and was emotionally able to finish the song.
PC: What is it about yourself that allows you to be comfortable being so open and vulnerable on a song like “Feel” and presenting yourself that way?
BK: When I finally accepted help and started talking to a therapist, I realized I was not alone whatsoever. I have become a huge proponent of taking care of your mental health in the past year, and I think that’s part of what allows me to feel comfortable now releasing this. If just one person is able to listen to this and go, “Man I felt or feel the same way but I was afraid no one else did,” much like I did for so long, then the song has done its job. I want us as a society to become more comfortable talking about and addressing mental health.
PC: Though it’s a song that’s personal to your experience during the pandemic, what do you hope listeners take away from “Feel”?
BK: It really is a very raw and heavy song, but I hope listeners, especially those that find a commonality with my lyrics, know that it does get better and no one is ever really alone. And maybe it will push some to check in on their people.
PC: You recently shared on social media that you have another new single, “Have Ourselves a Day,” releasing soon as well. What information can you give about what listeners can expect from the song?
BK: The complete opposite to “Feel”! [laughs]. We’ll be sharing more about it as we get closer to release date on that one as well, but I had some awesome help with it. It features one of my best friends in music, Trent Cowie, and was produced by Travis Bishop, who produced all the songs I put out in 2022. It’s definitely a high energy, fun song that I think will be perfect for those summer days on the lake or beach, or just hangin’ in the backyard!
PC: Along with shooting a music video for “Feel,” you also shot a video for “Have Ourselves a Day,” serve as the first videos in your career. How much did you enjoy filming the videos and having the opportunity to present them that way?
BK: The world of music videos is a whole other beast in itself! Sam Chance, who actually used to drum for me before diving full on into videography, is directing both of them and he has done such an awesome job. I feel like a real actor; we have a full crew helping us bring these videos to life, and I think the finished products will rival videos from anyone else! Content is king these days, and having something else to accompany the song I think is great. When I was little, it was CMT Countdown in the morning before school and MTV Countdown or TRL (when MTV still showed videos [laughs]) when I got home. Being able to make a legit music video makes me feel like one of those artists I saw on my TV as a kid.
PC: Along with more new music, what do you have planned for the rest of 2023?
BK: I have been writing a lot this year already, and am continuing to bounce back and forth to Nashville getting involved in the songwriting scene that they have, which is truly second to none. I am going to continue to surround myself with people more talented and successful than I am and keep learning how to better my craft! I do have some big shows coming up in the fall, including the already sold out Texas Country Music Cruise, which I am really looking forward to being back on. I try to make every song I write better than the last one and every show I play better than the one before. I hope if I keep doing that, more people will start to take notice and I can navigate this awesome and crazy industry for a long time to come!
*”Feel” is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*
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