Interview - Banks
Emma Jones chats with one of the year's most hyped acts.
If you don’t know who Banks is by now, you’re really missing out. The genre-shifting lyrical goddess has been making waves on the Internet for only about a year, but has already played Coachella, toured with The Weeknd, and was tipped as one to watch in 2014 by a multitude of publications. Her sultry songs demonstrate her incredible talent, showcasing her strong yet sweet voice, and her powerful, emotive lyrics. Banks is releasing her debut album in September, and we caught up with her whilst she was briefly in the country, bracing us to be the next country she is about to conquer.
Obviously you’ve had a pretty amazing year within the last 12 months or so – what’s been your highlight so far?
Oh man! There’s been so many crazy, amazing things! I just played Coachella, which was a highlight, definitely. Also, going on tour with The Weeknd was amazing… Releasing my first EP, my videos – lots of firsts!
Yeah! So many firsts! You have had such an amazing year, rising to fame so quickly as well! Have you even had time to catch your breath?! I heard Fall Over last year, and then suddenly you are on the Coachella line up! How did that even happen?
Yeah! That’s pretty much exactly how it happened. I’ve had to pinch myself. I’m just soaking everything in and just having so much fun. I’m just so happy people are connecting with my shows and my music.
Definitely! I read that your music was initially quite a private thing for you, and you kept it all to yourself, then suddenly Zane Lowe is playing your song?
Yeah, it was wild! *laughs*
Yeah man, how do you feel now that something was so private for you, and is now so public and open to critics and people’s opinions etc? How do you cope with having something so close to your heart out in the open like that?
It’s a huge dynamic shift, definitely, that I’m getting used to. I feel… It’s really encouraging that I’m connecting with so many people and I feel really special that it’s happening. It’s a new thing for me so I think it’s important to just always do it for the same reasons I’ve always done it; sanity. It’s like breathing for me; writing music is my breath and my heart and everything. I’m just going to keep doing it and try… you know… Just being so happy and grateful and continue to do it for myself.
That’s so sweet! Your songs are so powerful and emotional, and writing songs is such a therapeutic thing for you. Is it still a therapeutic thing, even though you’re so busy? Do you still have that time to get in touch with yourself?
Yeah! It’s like the busier I am and the more experiences I have, the more I need it.
So it’s like a coping mechanism for you?
Yeah it definitely is! It makes me feel lighter throughout the day when I write.
I read that you studied psychology, so do you think that helps too? Knowing how your brain works? Do they tie in together?
Oh yes! I mean, I studied psychology because I was so interested in relationships and dynamics, and how the brain develops, adolescent development and stuff like that. So it definitely helps knowing more about it, but even before I studied it, writing music came from the same place. I just love people and I am so sensitive and so passionate. I feel so hard – when I’m in pain; I’m in so much pain and when I’m in love; I’m in crazy, crazy love so I like learning about all of that.
I have to ask… What was it like working with Shlohmo?
It was amazing! I love him!
How did that come about? Were you friends before?
Yeah well he’s from LA as well and we did it through his label. My whole team is really close with them and they kind of feel like family so it just made sense. The atmosphere we created in our music works so well together. We just went in the studio together and it was so much fun… It was awesome.
That’s so cool! I’ve noticed that your songs have been remixed a fair bit by quite a few producers – Ta-Ku, Djemba Djemba… the list goes on! How do you feel with these people coming up with such different versions of what you have made? How does it feel to have these guys remixing your songs?
It’s awesome! It’s like a new… Sometimes it gives another dimension to the song, or it adds a different perspective. That’s another thing that I’m learning because I’ve never had remixes of my songs before, but it’s really fun to see how another artist is inspired and is able to create a whole new atmosphere but keeps the soul of the song there.
Wow, that’s really interesting! You’ve been named as “One To Watch for 2014”. Does that put a lot of pressure on you? How do you deal with that title, and with all these extra people now watching you?
I think it’s just flattering, I mean the other people in those groups are such incredible artists and they all sound so awesome. I don’t really think of it in terms of more pressure or anything, it’s just flattering.
Okay so, the album is dropping in September. How has that been, working on it whilst being so busy? Writing obviously comes naturally to you so has it been an easy process?
Um… I wouldn’t say “easy” *laughs*. It’s a process that I love. Sometimes writing songs is very emotional so it’s not the easiest thing but definitely it’s natural. It’s never been like I don’t have anything to write about.
So you’ve been in the studio, then touring, then back in the studio, then writing?
Yeah, it’s definitely been busy. You know, I went on tour with The Weeknd, then there was a US run, then there was like a week in between where I was in London recording, then I had a headline tour in Europe and then I had a few days and I recorded, then the rest of the UK tour. You fit it in though. I feel the most at home in the studio. It re-energises me to keep going, it’s never been anything else.
Well also the excitement of the album would keep you going too! What have you got planned post-album? Are you going straight back to writing? Are you coming to Australia to play some shows?! Please say “yes”!
Yeah I am! It’s in the works and we’re planning it. I can’t wait. I wasn’t album to spend much time here, but from what I’ve seen it’s such an amazing place.
Is this your first time in Australia?
Yes it’s the first time!
Oh wow! Well, you’re very welcome!
Thank you! I think I’m going to be touring a lot and I’m always going to be writing music no matter what. That’s never going to stop.
Of course. So what’s next on the Banks agenda?
What’s next? Well I fly back tomorrow night and I’m doing a few video shoots, then my US tour starts on the 24th so I can’t wait for that.
That’s so exciting! It’s all happening!
Yeah! It’s all really exciting!