LA's Brandon Banks speaks to us about his latest EP, 'STATIC', his hometown pride and his love for a good bassline.
What was the vision for ‘STATIC’ and how does it differ from your debut?
I'm just challenging myself to try new things, move into new worlds, sonically. 'STATIC', is a bit lighter than 'Tides', but still full of subject matter with substance. With 'STATIC', people can expect a lot of live instrumentation, experimental lyricism & vocal melodies ... I do a bit of rapping on there as well.
How did your creative process change between the two projects?
On 'Tides', a lot of the music was programmed very production based sounds. With 'STATIC', everything is live instrumentation - aside from some programmed percussion, I played a lot of the guitar as well. That was exciting for me because i'm trying to be more useful on the production side, ya know?
'Tides' was more of a dark, R&B sound, as I was exploring the darkness in my life and mind. This process has been a lot lighter, the music feels a lot more relaxed and jazzy. I did a lot more vocal experimentation, I feel like my pen has gotten sharper, so I took more risks there. Another difference with the two, a lot of this music I recorded in a lot shorter time period. I didn’t spend as much time harping on my thoughts, just let them flow. I guess efficiency comes with experience/confidence.
The 'SELF' track came about in the studio, started with an acoustic, guitar melody & no drums. I listen to a lot of brandy and that, “boy is mine”, melody came across my mind while I was writing, gave me a little sonic inspo.
The song speaks about learning to find the answers one may seek in life within you. Whatever questions you may have about the world, you can’t get a good view of it until you look at self. The more I unpack my ways of thinking, the more I understand the world. Where I come from, why I like certain things, why I dislike others & why I react the way I do to my environment. Everything that makes me, who I am, can teach me about where I stand in the world, and where I should go. You have to look in the mirror everyday, so being right with self means you’re right with the world.
As far as the collab, Mereba is a good friend of mine. I've always been a fan of her music since we met so a collaboration was bound to happen at some point. With 'SELF', I sent her the track and she liked it and came to the studio & dropped a verse. Her lyricism is top notch, as you heard!
What was the inspiration for, ‘PICO’?
'PICO', is a song I wrote about a fantasy I had of a love I never met. A dream about a girl who was as beautiful as nature itself, and as the day turns to night the story progresses. I wanted to create a dreamworld sonically and lyrically that could take you as many places possible within two minutes.
What were the main themes of your track, ‘LUCY’?
The main themes of Lucy are Ego, and Temptation.
'Lucy' comes in many forms, can be pride, lust, anger, ego, insecurities. The list goes on. In this song, 'Lucy' came to me in the form of a voice in my head, telling me that it can help me off the ground when I fall. That if I give in to temptation, I can gain the world in the process. An external force who can assist me in my ascension, or be the protagonist in my demise (police, enemies, drugs etc.)
The first verse is “Lucy” speaking to me, telling me to give in to the temptation. Second verse is my rebuttal.
What was the creative process like for your 2018 project, ‘Tides’?
'Tides'…. that was a journey for me. It may be a seven-track project, but I laid every piece of me out in each song. During the recording process, I was still growing & figuring out who I was/what I was doing. Meanwhile, unpacking every suppressed emotion that I had pent up for 23 years. It honestly was a very dark time for me.
I spent almost every day in the studio with kojo & nicky sun down-sun up recording, I would go to the beach and clear my head sometimes during the day. With 'Tides', I wanted to understand why I think the way I do, and try to be as honest & transparent with my emotions/thoughts as possible.
Starting out, I didn’t know what the project would be. We just recorded a lot of demos and it started to form itself over time. I just focused on growing my writing, so I could better tell my truth.
How do you feel that your sound has grown?
I feel my voice has gotten stronger, my guitar skills have grown (still a long way to go), and my lyricism has gotten stronger as well. Sonically, I feel like the music I make right now moves a lot more. 'Lucy' is in such a nice pocket (S/O Jonah & Paul) that you almost get lost in the groove and forget i'm speaking some heavy stuff - I like that. I like hiding the bars behind a veil of smooth guitar and keys. This Project also has alottttt of live bass, I am in love with good basslines.
How important are visuals to you?
To me, visuals are an extremely important piece of any creative project - the presentation is just as important as the art itself. With visuals, you’re able to bring people into your world and show what you really meant with the art - It allows me to present my music as a body of work, bringing people into the world I created with the lyrics & melody.
Visually, the goal is to make a movie one day whether i'm helping write, or acting. I love abstract visuals as opposed to straight forward performance shots. The lyrics are usually in-depth so we try to do the same visually. I'm blessed to have an extremely talented cinematographer in Kuba, he does all of my visuals thats my dude. He’s able to translate my words into a whole pallet, giving the music another life.
How did growing up in Inglewood influence your music style today?
Everyone from LA has a distinct way of story telling with a little bit of funk tied to it, being from here gives you a sense of pride. Because LA is the dream. From the hood to hollywood, there are so many lives you can live here, you can be a CEO or an OG. Creator or Consumer. So being from a place with so many possibilities can have you growing with an open mind.
m, but my roommate put me on to this “Long Ride” project and ive been jamming ever since
What five artists would you recommend to your listeners?
April + Vista - production/musician/artist duo from the East coast, they’re super talented.
Alex Isley - her melodies are heavenly.
C.S. Armstrong - I've never heard a voice like that in a young person, really singing the blues like he’s a 50-year-old dude from Mississippi in 1956 at a speakeasy.
What’s coming up for 2020?
2020 you can expect a lot more music, and a lot more shows!