Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Banks: Interview off-cuts

I don't get to vote in the BBC's Sound Of 2014 because I help put it together - but if I was given a choice, I'd have nominated sultry, seductive R&B siren Banks.

So I'm very pleased that she's taken third placem (as announced this morning) and even more pleased that I got to interview her for a second time as part of the coverage.

You can read the results on the BBC site today, and I've put some of the quotes that didn't make the main piece below.

First, though, here's a song.

Banks - Change (acoustic)

You famously started writing music on a toy piano when you were 15. Was it all very plinky-plonky?
No, the piano was actually quite large, but it was really light and it sounded like a toy. It wasn't a really high quality one. The keys were lighter than a napkin.

And did you learn everything by ear?
I do everything by ear. I still haven't had training. I don't know what chords I'm playing. I wouldn't know if it was A or A minor, or anything like that.

I once played in a band with a guy who called D major "the sunshine chord" because that was the shape his fingers made on the keyboard
You see, that's how I think, too. I totally get that. I don't have names for the chords, but I feel that guy.

You must have sung before you were 15, though? A voice like that doesn't come out of nowhere.
I sang a little bit but, honestly, I really discovered it through writing music. I discovered my voice more after I started writing songs. It all came together at once, really.

Was that a surprise? Were you creative before that?
I've always... I love drawing, I love painting. I've always been very in tune with that side of my mind. But I didn't really notice, like, "oh, I’m starting to write music. I want to be this". It just happened. It was almost my little secret. Once I discovered it, that whole year I was just in my room with the door shut.

Like a typical teenager
Yes. It sounds like a dirty typical teenager, but it wasn't!

Banks - Warm Water

Would you say there's a confessional element to your songs?
I don't know about confession, but it's definitely a release. I want to hear a song that feels like the person who wrote it had to make that song or they'd go crazy. That's how I write, and that's the music I connect to.

You come from Los Angeles where the perception is that everyone is superficial and obsessed with appearances. Did you feel like a black sheep?
I... Definitely, when I discovered writing, felt very alone. It was hard for me to connect with people, with what I was going through. I love LA, it's such an amazing place. But I definitely found music because I felt different.

Is it true you wrote Warm Water with TEED in just three hours?
Yeah, it was really cool. It just kind of came together. That's how the music is that I've made. It just flows out sometimes – and that song in particular. I don't know. It just came out.

You're clearly not using a toy piano any more. Where do all those incredible sounds come from?
I know what I want my music to sound like. I want to create a really dark atmosphere. I want it to feel heavy. Having an idea of what you want to sound like, mixed with working with really, really talented people who understand your idea – you can’t go wrong, I don't think.

The final two places in the Sound Of 2014 are announced tomorrow and Friday, "fyi".

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