Banks

The first-ever interview with an extraordinary artist – the LA singer with rich media Banks

Music First Look
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Banks blindsided me on first listen.  Shiny, new musical toys pop up online incessantly. Listening to these whilst the pheromonal residue of salivating bloggers is still cloaking them is often a waste of time.  It coaxes you to play loose with your judgement based on arbitrary associations. If the new thing is still happily bounding around of its own accord long after the primary fuss-makers’ yips are being scattered by the wind as they lurch after their next prey, then it might not be a waste of your time to delve in in relative peace. Open ears are preferable to flapping ones.  Occasionally though you are lured to click with the horde regardless, and it’s truly worth it and you don’t care one bit who else is or isn’t there, nor if you are the only listener ever to hear this thing.  This is how it was with Banks for me, and it seems for hundreds of thousands of others. Her soundcloud, brimming with bass-heavy pop noire treats, has been besieged. 

The new T.E.E.D - produced single, Warm Water, is currently soaring up the Itunes chart. The unknown chanteuse from L.A., seducing ever more people with her whisky sour at sundown tones over resolutely 2am in a club production work. Banks’ lyrics were probably what caught me off guard the most though; as they are themselves quite unguarded.  They are flirty, coy, human.  Simply a little erotic, not an imploration to bang on the dance floor.  They ensnare your emotions, the ones that create a little flutter in your stomach and spine, rather than shoving their hands straight down your pants.  Recalling the lustful dreamings of your teens whilst satisfying your current ears.

I spoke with Banks very recently to try to draw the veil away from her bashful eyes just a little.

Hello. I don’t even know your name.

I’ll just be Banks. 

Have you been making music for a long time? 

I’ve been writing and singing for around ten years, but it’s just been in my room. 

What made you take that first step into the wider world? 

My best friend was the only one who knew how much I was into writing and singing. She met my manager, and really wanted to send him my songs but all my music is so personal, it’s like therapy for me, so I said, ”Don’t”, but she did it anyway, and from there it blossomed. 

Have you been really surprised by how well received your music has been? 

It feels so surreal. I just feel so lucky that people are connecting with what I have to say.  When I’m writing about pain like in ‘Before I Ever Met You’, which is about a bad, dirty dynamic between people, and then about break ups, they’re universal experiences.

That your lyrics are flecked with hints of eroticism rather than explicit sexual references is one of the main things that drew me to your tracks.

Human emotion is more interesting than anything.  Everything that is so overtly sexual is not real. Real emotion is sexy. It’s vulnerable and raw.

Human emotion is more interesting than anything.  Everything that is so overtly sexual is not real. Real emotion is sexy. It’s vulnerable and raw.

Who was the most inspirational to you when you first began to make music? 

Fiona Apple as she has no fear of her pain. I started writing when I was going through a really dark time.  I felt so helpless and I didn’t know how to express myself. I remember listening to her and just feeling so liberated. She loved her own anger. It’s that beautiful thing to love your weaknesses, your insecurities and then put them all on blast. That’s why I started writing and that’s why it was so hard to do it in public.

Did you always intend to have your tracks backed by electronic production alone? 

I always knew that I wanted the production to reflect the voice. I wanted it to be moody, dark, feminine and really strong.  It hasn’t really been this really planned thing. I found my sound right away. Literally the first session I had with Jesse Rogg, a producer I work with, and on the first song we did it was like, “Oh there’s the sound”.

Did you listen to T.E.E.D before working with him?

I had heard some of his music, but I think it was really good that I didn’t know too much about him. Both of us were just going in with a blank slate and an open mind, and it worked out really well.

Are you feeling daunted by the thought of finally performing in front of an audience soon? 

I haven’t thought too much into it. I just know it’s going to be right. Whether it’s small and intimate or, actually, big sounds scary for me now.

So, your social media platforms state that it’s your management who look after them, but you have a phone number on your facebook page. Where does that go if people call it? 

My cellphone.

Seriously? 

Yeah. 

Have many people been calling?  

A lot.  They text and call. It’s been really cool.  When I was younger and Fiona Apple was my inspiration, I can’t even imagine how it would have felt if I could have texted her and she would have responded.  That’s a real way to connect with someone. I answer everybody. They’re always so surprised when I do, but that’s what it’s there for.   

Are you going to try to keep that going? 

I’m definitely going to keep it going as long as possible. 

Have you ever used social media personally?

No nothing. I can be a hermit.  I just feel more peaceful without it.  Everything is so connected and hectic. It clogs your brain. 

How worried are you that you’re going to lose that peace and ability to be reclusive if things go really well?
There are always ways to be a hermit.

What else did you do whilst you were writing all this music in your room?
I got a psychology degree from USC, but music is just my whole life.

As someone so fascinated by emotion I can imagine you were very into that degree?

Definitely. Those dynamics between people, especially who love each other but might hate each other in time, stuff like that is very interesting to me.

I can imagine it something that’s quite hard to switch off after studying it. Do you analyse conversations you over-hear? 

Sometimes I see through things when people are talking. I’m really sensitive to other people, so I can tell if somebody’s putting on a front. 

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