Ignescent – Sparking InspirationSunday, 19th November 2023
Merging the idea of spreading a more positive message within heavier music is something we are finally beginning to see more of. Nothing particularly wrong with some doom & gloom, but injecting some positivity also has its perks. Ignescent is a new act that doing exactly by adding a positive energy to go with their modern, heavy rock/metal sound that’s both catchy and frenetic. The band is set to release their first full-length album through Frontiers Music after spending years developing their craft. We spoke with vocalist Jennifer Benson to get her thoughts on the band’s process, lyrical inspirations, and much more.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve been doing smaller releases for almost five years now. What have you taken from those in building up to Fight in Me?
Jennifer Benson: Through that process, I feel that I have grown more as a writer. So experimenting more with different ideas, and taking more from my life experiences. With this album, I’ve been going through a lot in the last couple of years, and I just wanted to convey a lot of emotion in the lyrics and the music/melodies. I wanted to express my feelings in hopes that other people can be encouraged by that and relate to it. It’s been a lot – struggling with anxiety and depression, and different things – betrayal by different people. It’s been a crazy few years. I know that other people are also struggling and out there, so I wanted people to be able to take from this and gain hope from it. I wanted other people to know that there are others struggling too – they are not alone. That’s one thing.
Another thing I’ve taken from past recordings is that I have worked with different producers in the past. We worked with Jeremy Valentyne from New Years Day for the song “Exodus” and “Resist.” We really loved what they brought and what they did. Most of the album, except for one song, is produced by Jeremy Valentyne and Brandon Wolfe (New Years Day). So that’s something that we had taken from previous recordings and brought it to this one. I’m really excited about what they helped produce with the songs.
Dead Rhetoric: I did see that you had done that with this album, and you’ve also had songs co-written with members of Flyleaf and Skillet. Are there other people within the scene you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Benson: We just collaborated with Josiah Prince and Kevin Young of Disciple was featured on “Not Today” and Billy Gray (Fozzy) was featured in the music video. So that was really cool! In the past I have written with Sameer Bhattacharya of Flyleaf and Ben Kasica of Skillet. So in the future, I would love to co-write with John Cooper. I’m a huge fan of his, and I’d love him to sing on a song. I would also love Lacey Sturm (Flyleaf) to sing on an Ignescent song. I think that would be so cool! For me that would be awesome. Also, Amy Lee of Evanscence – I love her and their music. Those would definitely be top three for me to collaborate with. Jinjer would be really cool too!
Dead Rhetoric: Does it feel like you’ve reached a milestone in being able to put out your debut full-length?
Benson: Yeah, I have always wanted to do a full-length album. It’s really something that I am really excited about. We finally get to do this – put all these songs together and get it out there for the fans. It feels like a huge accomplishment. I’m so excited. On top of that, we had the music video for “Not Today” released, the music video for “Monster You Made,” and then we’ll have another one in February or March released for a different song on the album. So yeah, it feels like a big accomplishment.
Dead Rhetoric: As your first full-length, what goals did you have in mind for Fight in Me?
Benson: I just wanted something that was really heavy and edgy, musically. Something that gives out a ton of energy. That was one of the goals. I also wanted to do something emotional and super relatable, like I mentioned to what I have been experiencing. We also have a ballad that I’m really excited about called “You’re Not Alone,” and that’s really exciting. Kind of like what I was mentioning before, I want to convey that message to people – they are not alone with whatever they are struggling with. We are all in this fight together. So I’m really excited about that song.
There’s another song that’s kind of a ballad, but then it get’s heavier, called “Carries Me,” and it’s about the last few years in my life. I lost everything, and it’s been a crazy experience! I ended up homeless – not on the street, but not having a home and having to go back to live with my parents, that sort of thing. I was really down for a long time. I was trying to figure out what was happening. I felt like my life was nuts! It kept getting worse to the point of out-of-control crazy. This melody popped into my head, ‘your love carries me,’ it kept going over and over in my head when I woke up one morning. I shared this melody with my husband, and he was like, “Where did that come from?” So I said it was just in my head, and he said he had the same melody in his head for the last few days. I feel like that was really given to us to encourage and comfort us, because we were both feeling this way since we lost everything so quickly and were scammed by people. It was crazy. So I felt like I had to write that song. I wrote the melody and lyrics and the band put together the music, so I can’t wait for that one to come out!
Dead Rhetoric: Ignescent means to spark or ignite. What do you hope to spark in listeners?
Benson: My hope is just to ignite them with our music, as well as with love. I just want them to know that they are loved. There’s so much hate, hurt, and garbage in this world. I’m sick and tired of it. That’s our main purpose. I want people to know that they are not alone and are loved. I think that’s the most important thing for people to know right now in the midst of everything going on at the moment. It’s just insane! The whole world is just in chaos. We all need to be there for one another, we need to know that there is hope. We need to know that we are loved. That’s what Ignescent is all about.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve mentioned the lyrical content quite a bit. Based on you going through these horrible experiences, how do you draw the line in lyric writing to keep that personal tone to it without telling everyone your life story?
Benson: I guess I just try to convey and write lyrics with the emotions of what I am feeling, but not necessarily specific. Occasionally, I’ll put something more specific in there but I try to keep it more general with how I am feeling, so that other people, whatever they are dealing with – because it’s going to be probably different – but it might spark the same emotion even if it’s a different experience. So keeping those emotions and how I am feeling with those emotions [is important].
Dead Rhetoric: So how’d the deal with Frontiers Music come about?
Benson: It was crazy! I’ve known about Frontiers for years and we had some songs already recorded. We had a Queen remake that isn’t out yet and I submitted it to them. Just to email them and see what happens. What was the worst that could happen? They could say no. But they responded and said they were interested! So I forwarded the email to my manager, and he talked with them. They gave me a contract and we went over it with the lawyers to sign the deal. It was just that simple, but I have waited a long time and I’m super excited to be with them!
Dead Rhetoric: What do you find inspiring about the current rock/metal scene?
Benson: I love the creativity. I love bands like Ice Nine Kills, which is totally different than what we are doing, but I love the theatrics of that. It’s inspiring to me, because I love the theatrical. Flyleaf, it’s really cool that they are back out there once again, so that’s also really inspiring when I see something like that happen. I love bands like Skillet and the message they are putting out, along with the heavy music. I think that’s really cool.
Dead Rhetoric: What sort of hobbies do you enjoy outside of music?
Benson: I enjoy going shopping to malls [laughs]. I love going to see movies. I also love hiking – we lived in Tennessee for a little, we are back in Chicago now, but that was awesome for me because I could go hiking in the mountains and see waterfalls. That was beautiful. I also have a heart for the youth, so I like serving in youth groups and that sort of thing too. I also like serving for the homeless too, because I have a heart for homeless people too. I love going to restaurants and eating pizza at Giordano’s – that’s another favorite too [laughs]!
Dead Rhetoric: Lastly, what are your plans for 2024?
Benson: One of our songs is going to radio in February, and we are playing at Happens in Las Vegas in the end of February. We have tours coming up – we will be playing on the main stage at Lifest in Wisconsin, and also at Loud & Proud Festival in Germany next September. There is also City on the Hill. Some of it is on the website, and the rest will be updated soon.