Playing Mind Games with Banks
Celebrating the release of her incredible new LP, The Altar.
Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Marvelly is not the first person you think of when you think of BANKS. Indeed, she’s probably best known for singing the New Zealand anthem a couple of times at New Zealand Rugby Union games. However, at the beginning of September, when I was in New Zealand, I tuned into Radio New Zealand’s mixtape segment and it was Marvelly’s choice to play BANKS Waiting Game that made it click. It was her description of BANKS as a woman capable of saying so much within her songs, something most artists struggled to do as she explained. This I feel, sums up the power of BANKS; sure she has good pop songs, but it’s the subject matter that grabs you.
And after interviewing her, this becomes all too clear. The Guardian once wrote she had a ‘Banksian air’ which in other words translated as vague i.e. "she didn’t say what I wanted so I’m going to low-key complain". But don’t we always talk about the artists who are in it for ‘the art’? Don’t we always wish we could meet them? Perhaps BANKS is one of those people and if that’s the case then all the better, because regardless of who she is as a person, The Altar is definitely one of the year's best albums. And now back to my attempt to break this ‘Banksian’ air which began with, “It’s hard for me to put it into words…”
The Alter is out now via EMI, grab it HERE.
BANKS on Mind Games:
It’s hard for me to put it into words but it felt like one of those little… you know how you have times in life that you always remember, that define who you were at that time. I think there were moments in this album, and in making it this album, that really helped shape it. It’s hard, and I think Mind Games is one of them. The day I wrote it I was in such a giving place, and I mean giving in that I was super connected to what I was feeling and thinking and the words came out fast. It was one of the first songs that I wrote for the album and it shaped the energy a lot. I also feel it’s a challenge with the lyrics ‘Do you see me now,’ like - ‘Yeah, it’s like I dare you to see me now.’
On the album name, The Altar:
It’s a place of sacrifice, a holy place, a place of honesty and religion and I feel like my music is my religion and I feel like it’s the most honest place. That’s why it’s called The Altar.
On the album artwork:
I wanted it to be really raw, I didn’t want to wear make-up. I just wanted to show my freckles, I wanted to show my messy hair, I wanted to show myself without anything on top of myself. The album, every song is a different layer of who I am, the videos show different versions of me and the cover of my album wraps it up in a bow. Just the most raw, the rawest energy you could get. And I think that was a choice I made.
On Gemini Feed:
Gemini Feed was originally written about a relationship and the more I thought about it I wanted to play both roles, I wanted to represent both sides. There’s a darkness and a light and sometimes if those two things aren’t balanced out you can be really twisted. I feel like with relationships; it’s important to be balanced, with yourself it’s important to be balanced. That video is heaven, hell and purgatory. The goddess of heaven, the master of hell and the two people who are pulling on the rope, which are played by me, is purgatory. I think that at the end they’re lying together in the child’s pose which is the most relaxing pose in yoga. So I wanted that to be what it was all about.
What it was like working with Sohn:
He was part of my first album too, he’s a huge part of my life. He gets me, that’s why we make music together. And my music is, like I said, my altar. It’s the holiest place I have, the only people I work with are the people I trust, I love and people that I’m inspired by. Everything about Sohn is great.
Yeah, it’s a theme for me in my music. The only relationship you can never break up with is yourself. I’m going to be with myself till I die, it’s a theme in my music. And if you aren’t comfortable with yourself then write about it.