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Getting to Know Banks

Los Angeles Songstress Plays the S.B. Bowl with The Weeknd


Banks knows something about buzz. Less than a year after her voice first made ripples across the music blogosphere, the enchanting Los Angeles songstress has solidified herself as one of music’s most exciting prospects, with each intermittent release of a new song or remix delivered to an ever-growing audience. All of that buzz seems to be coming to a head recently; in addition to releasing her first EP, Banks is currently preparing for her first national tour, opening for Toronto’s Internet-buzz-darling-turned-indie-music-sensation The Weeknd.

It would be a mistake to let the fleeting and vapid connotations of the word “buzz” shape your perception of Banks, though (and not just because she stays off of social media completely, opting to make herself available to fans via phone instead). Banks’s voice is untarnished and accessible — not immaculate — and her beats and soulful production feel built to last.

Banks
Click to enlarge photo

John Michael Fulton

Banks

What’s most interesting, though, is her apparent disregard for the ever-changing musical landscape. Banks has rendered herself exempt from the express-lane of online music consumption by choosing to invest her energy not on marketing her music, but on notebooks full of lyrics and extensive time in the studio.

And the buzz? The buzz seem to be taking care of itself. Below, Banks weighs in on the hype, the current pop music landscape, and her upcoming tour with The Weeknd.

It feels like there’s more soul in pop music nowadays. Do you think this has influenced you at all? I mean, I don’t really know about any larger trends. I just know what I’m attracted to, and that is what you just said: soul. You said it perfectly, really, and it’s funny that you said it that way because anytime someone asks me what type of music I listen to, I say, “Anything with soul. Anything you can feel. Anything with passion and emotion.” I love listening to songs that feel like the artist had to write that song.

It sounds as if you’re saying that you want music that’s honest … Yes, exactly. Honest.

You’ve talked in the past about how often you write, and your stacks upon stacks of notebooks. Has all of this travel affected your writing at all? You know, it’s funny — I write now more than ever. The more I do it, the more I can’t get enough. It’s an addiction for me. When I was in London, it was my first time being somewhere where I was able to be consistent with it because I had a recording session pretty much every day for a month, and I almost felt lighter walking around. I was just expressing everything, and it was just the most amazing feeling, you know, because I was getting everything out of me.

What’s it like to have “buzz”? You know, I don’t even know what this feels like. It just feels good. Any time someone connects with my music, it just feels good.

One year ago, would you have predicted that you’d be about to begin your first national tour? [Laughs.] No. I mean, I would have hoped. It’s a dream.

It looks like The Weeknd is planning a pretty complex “multisensory” performance for this tour. What can we expect from your performances? I’m just going to sing my heart out.

Last question, and this is a little weird: What can you tell me about inside-out girl? Inside-out girl! Oh my gosh! I love that you just asked me that! My friend and I write stories about this girl that’s physically inside out. She’s just this goddess woman who is literally inside out, like her organs are on the outside.

And she’s trying to cope with this? She’s just a normal girl who doesn’t judge herself, and she’s inside-out.

Does she live in a bubble? [Laughs.] No, no — she goes outside. She also leaves bloody handprints and footprints wherever she goes. She just is who she is.

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Banks opens for The Weeknd this Saturday, September 14, at the Santa Barbara Bowl (1122 N. Milpas St.) at 7 p.m. Call (805) 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com for tickets and info.

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