“I found music because I felt different,”
Banks : Profile
Jillian Banks, known simply as Banks, is one of a new breed of musicians using social-media sites Soundcloud, Facebook and Youtube, to build an audience.
Judging by the speed of her ascension onto a host of taste-maker and celebrity playlists, she has the unmistakable aura of a fast-rising star.
The 25 year-old, LA native, began making music at 15, as a way to escape depression. She has been attracting bucketloads of buzz from fans and industry alike, since posting her first song, ‘Before I Ever Met You’ to Soundcloud in early 2013. Billboard called her work ‘magnetic.’
She came 3rd on the BBC’s ‘Sound of 2014′ list in January. Since then, she has collaborated with a raft of notables in preparation for the release of her debut album. She recently worked with respected producer SOHN, and lists Tracy Chapman, Fiona Apple and Lauryn Hill amongst her many influences.
Her latest video, Brain has racked up an impressive 142,331 views on YouTube in less than a month. Banks is garnering new admirers with impressive speed.
One of the things that makes her different to the thousands of musicians trying to leverage the web, is that she doesn’t tweet, selfie or post on her own behalf. Her management, do all the heavy lifting. She did however, post her mobile number on her Facebook page. This public mix of distance, and intimacy, combined with compelling music, has created an intriguing aura of mystery.
Image: Banks 2014
“I’ve never really been into social media — I don’t have a Facebook, I don’t do Twitter or Instagram or anything,” she said in an interview with Billboard. “I still really want to be able to connect with people and have people make connections through my music, so I figured, what a better way than to give out my number?”
Chants, Fire, Heart
Listening to her musical output, it’s not hard to see why she’s on the rise. Hypnotic, skittish, glacial R&B, punctuated by stabs of piano and keyboard. Combine this with dubbish, skeletal, understated beats, distinctive breathy vocals, solid lyrics and memorable melodies and Banks makes music that skates the edges of accessible pop, but never sounds clichéd. This is not a one-stop pop-star, crafting a couple of big hits, but a rapidly maturing artist, on the brink of a major breakthrough.
There is a sass and a sway to the Banks sound, evoking a more mature and serious Rhianna, but without the tired S&M gimmicks and the overplayed sexual innuendo. Banks describes her music as “dark bluish black,with smoke and chants and fire and heart.”
She writes lyrics that read like ordinary conversations. When sung, they become confessional. They don’t try for cleverness, but instead focus on the obsessive nature of love and relationships.
One recent YouTube commenter described her sound as “like a wounded bird.” Judging by her recent trajectory, she’s a songbird, soaring upwards. As she rises, there will be a lot more people discovering this moody and mysterious musician.