Wootton High School sophomore Benjamin Fritz performs as BenSpence at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. Credit: VIA BEN FRITZ

When Benjamin Fritz learned that his friend, Alexander Schachter, was one of the 17 people killed in the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting in February, the Thomas S. Wootton High School sophomore and local DJ turned to his passion for making music to deal with the loss.

The result was “We Lived,” an electronic dance music (EDM) song whose lyrics came from a poem that Schachter, a 14-year-old who loved playing in the band at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, wrote about roller coasters before he was killed.

“When my friend passed away, I was in school and I didn’t really know how to express how I was feeling,” Fritz, 16, said. “Everyone just kind of kept on trying to talk to me and it wasn’t really doing anything for me. I went down into my basement and started messing around with my music and I just came up with this song.” 

Fritz produces songs and plays EDM at clubs and festivals. On stage at venues such as Moonrise, a music festival in Baltimore, and Soundcheck and 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C, where he’s performed on weekends, he’s known as BenSpence.

Fritz and Schachter knew each other from time they spent together at Camp Echo, a summer camp in New York.

To create the song in honor of Schachter, Fritz got in touch with a lyricist he knew at New York University and asked his friend, Mackenzie Testa, a graduate from Winston Churchill High School, to sing. He released the song at the end of March at Ultra, a music festival in Miami, Florida. All of the proceeds from the song will go to a scholarship fund in Schachter’s name.

The song—with lyrics including “With your hand in mine, they’ll never be a night, like this moment in time. Let’s leave the world a sign, that we lived our lives … ”—has been downloaded several thousands of times across iTunes, Spotify and SoundCloud, Fritz said. 

“For me, creating music is about making people happy,” he said. “When I talk about this stuff with my friends, they ask how much money I am making, but it’s not about the money. It’s always about the people; I mean that’s the reason why you are there. Once I play my first song on stage and everyone goes crazy, I turn into a completely different person.”

Fritz makes his music in the basement of his home in Rockville. His dad first introduced him to EDM when he was 11 years old. Since then, Fritz’s mind has been consumed with music. He hopes to continue producing music and playing at festivals and clubs and to tour. His music can be found on Spotify, Soundcloud and iTunes under BenSpence.

“I’ll be in class—probably not paying attention and I’ll get a beat stuck in my head and I’ll think ‘I need to leave,’ so I’ll go to the bathroom and start recording [beats] on my phone,” Fritz says. “It just comes to me sometimes.”