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BEATS BY MAC: The hobby that turned Mac Bennett from defenseman to disc jockey

By Matt Slovin, Daily Sports Editor
Published March 7, 2012

After they stopped crying, they rushed home and downloaded the song, “Blue Eyes.”

If Bennett doesn’t look like he has the least bit of stage fright under the bright lights of Yost, it’s probably because he had to get over all of that really fast at boarding school.

Mac’s sister, Carly, a college-hockey prospect herself at Hotchkiss, won’t ever stop hearing about her heartthrob older brother.

“I cannot tell you the amount of times girls have come up to me and said ‘your brother’s song is so cute,’ ” Carly said. “I don't know how much I like other girls saying how cute my brother is, but I do think it was very brave of him to perform that song in front of everyone, and I think any girl would be happy to have a song like that written about them.”

The gift of music wasn’t in Bennett’s DNA, so his parents had to find other ways to give it to him.

Bennett’s folks deserve credit for helping his musical journey, but it’s only their generosity — not their genes. In fact, Mac can’t help but laugh when asked if his folks have musical talent.

“Not at all,” he smirks.

Luckily for Mac, their gift-giving abilities far surpass anything they could do with their voices or on the guitar.

And when Christmas of their son’s freshman year came and there was just one thing on his list, they were happy to oblige.

On his laptop, Mac used to work with GarageBand — a basic program with limited capabilities. But if he wanted to get serious with his music, he needed an upgrade.

“Around Christmas time, I was looking at equipment and stuff,” Mac said. “There’s this program called Ableton Live, which I had done my research on.”

There were no surprises under the Bennett family tree in 2010, but what was waiting for Mac allowed him to surpass the learning curve. Using Ableton Live, Mac let his passion take over as he delved deeper into producing. He began to formulate his own musical identity.

***

Mac and DeBlois did everything together growing up. Their fathers played college hockey together at Brown and they’ve spent all but two years on the same team. The two were destined to be Wolverines together.

DeBlois’ earliest memory of the friendship is him chasing Mac around the house with a shovel. But their best memories together are of the 12-by-16 foot rink on the Bennett family deck.

That makeshift rink might as well have been Joe Louis Arena or Madison Square Garden to the youngsters. Now, they don’t have to pretend that’s where they’re skating.

Mac imagines each of his musical creations being played over the sound system at arenas. If he can’t picture it blaring through the speakers during warm-ups at Yost, or Joe Louis, where Mac is 6-2 as a Wolverine, then the song gets scrapped.

It’s not at all uncommon for him to begin producing a tune but scratch it before completion. It’s a process that Mac goes through constantly — ideas for songs hit him at the most random of times, but not all of them will come to fruition.

“If I’m bored, I’ll come in here and put up something and just start playing notes on a keyboard,” Mac said, motioning to the synthesizer resting on his desk. “At the time, I’ll think it sounds great. Then I’ll come back to it like two or three hours later and it’s like, 'This sucks.' I never delete anything. I just kind of forget about it.”

The rare gems that Mac doesn’t tire of — even after listening to them on loop for sometimes hundreds of times in a row — get added to his SoundCloud page. SoundCloud is an audio distribution platform for artists like Mac to promote their work. There, his music can be downloaded. From “Give Me Sex” — Mac’s coked-up remix of Rufus Wainwright’s “Instant Pleasure” — to the love-struck ditty he sang to his girlfriend on stage at Hotchkiss, his sound can vary.

Mac prefers to stick to electronic music, though he’s dabbled in other genres. Michigan captain Luke Glendening sang over a country song that Mac wrote.

It doesn’t even matter what kind of music Mac’s making. That he’s doing it at all is enough to keep him sane.

***

Sunday mornings are the laziest time of the week at the teammates’ house. On one in particular, Mac stirs in bed. He smiles — the Wolverines completed a crucial league sweep of Miami (Ohio) the night before, avenging an earlier series. Then, as he rolls out of bed, he winces. Mac’s everything hurts after a physical weekend.

Sundays aren’t for hockey.