By Rich Henrich
Imagine yourself writing songs, making music for ten years in the privacy of your room, never telling anyone your secret. Then you share your soul with someone and decide to release a somewhat anonymous song on SoundCloud. That was February 2013. By the end of that year, BANKS received nominations for awards from both BBC and MTV. She was the opening act for The Weeknd by the fall of 2013 and her song “Waiting Game” was featured in the 2013 Victoria’s Secret holiday commercial Then in 2014, BANKS took the Coachella stage for the first time.
“Coachella was the first (music) festival I played. The day of the show, I was terrified. I was so nervous, I’m not sure I really enjoyed it,” says the self-taught singer and musician. The Los Angeles native was given a piano to play at a difficult time in her life as her parents went through a divorce. She started writing songs when she was fifteen years old but was reluctant to share her private yearnings.
CVW: Welcome back to Coachella! What can we expect from your performance this time?
BANKS: “I’m looking forward to this show. It’s a new show that I have never done in America. I’m excited to be setting it free in the Universe!”
CVW: What can we expect from this performance?
BANKS: “I have two creatures, two girls that act as my ghosts or more like the inner voices in my head. I’m feeling creatively inspired and free. I don’t want to give away too much of the show but I can’t wait to share it.”
CVW: You have a mini-tour leading up to Coachella.
BANKS: “Yeah, we have a few little shows but our rehearsals are all focused on Coachella. We want to perform for this festival and do some things we have yet to do on stage in the U.S.”
CVW: There is one of your songs that deal with self-criticism vs. self-love.
BANKS: “Fuck with Myself.”
CVW: Yes, that’s the one. Are these the two ghosts?
BANKS: “People take different things from art. As humans, we are constantly striving to be our own advocate, learning to have our own relationship with ourselves. I am doing the same with music. I’m more open now and with that comes the confidence to experiment.”
CVW: Are you coming into your own on stage now more so than before?
BANKS: “The new stage I’m at, there’s more movement so the show reflects that incorporating more movement based (choreography) and just having a bigger presence of performance on stage.”
CVW: How are your songs evolving?
BANKS: “I think these new songs have more of a growl to them. I feel a bit like the “Emperor” on stage! (Laughs) I’ve changed as an artist. I’m more confident now so I want to take more risks. As you age, you grow.”
CVW: Where does this growth come from creatively?
BANKS: “My art leads me. There are songs on Goddess that I didn’t truly feel the depth of the songs until later. The (creative process) allows me to explore and then I discover meaning later.”
CVW: Where do the ideas for your songs come from?
BANKS: “I’ve been documenting my dreams and now I’m more consciously aware of my dreams. I’ve always had really f*#@ked dreams. They are whole movie scripts for a dream with complex characters, too.”
CVW: Dreams are a fascinating landscape to discover and interpret, especially in the Jungian way.
BANKS: “I love Carl Jung and definitely am influenced. I have three dreams that are so vivid I will never forget them. They mean so much more. I’m reading about lucid dreaming now.”
CVW: Lucid dreaming is incredible. I read a book called Lucid Dreaming in college. It can be a little scary if you don’t understand it. What are you reading?
BANKS: “Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming, a Step by Step Guide… oh, it’s by the same author as Lucid Dreaming!”
CVW: I’m sure it will help you with your music. How do you write your songs?
BANKS: “It can start with a syllable or a word or part of one like serp…turns into serpentine and can become a line like ‘serpentine- walking through a lemon grove.’ Music is its own form of dreaming. Always makes me feel better.”
CVW: Who’s a singer/ songwriter you really admire?
BANKS: “Fiona Apple. When I first discovered her music, I was in a place where I didn’t feel like I was being heard and just listening to her music made me feel like someone was listening. She is like a fierce lioness! She is brilliant with her lyrics. Each sentence creates a poetic verse but it never feels contrived, always honest.”
CVW: Thank you for your time. I really appreciated learning more about you and your process.
BANKS: “Thank you.”
CVW: Last words before we part?
BANKS: “I am really excited for this show and want people to experience what we have been rehearsing! Music comes from my heart and I want to share that.”
Do not miss this show on Friday. BANKS is finding her way creatively and I can only guess what awesomeness awaits the Coachella fans. I was most impressed with her ease of personality and her openness to share her process and her journey from writing music privately and then emerging on the main stage, seemingly a veteran already only to learn she is just beginning to explore new creative canvases.