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HOW THE BANKS REMOVE TO THE Driver’s Seat on the ‘Serpentina’

OWhen you hit play on BANKS’s new album, it takes all of 30 seconds for her to tell you that she doesn’t really care if you get her or not. “If I had only a dollar for every time someone didn’t listen, I wouldn’t need these vocals, man / But I still have a mic in hand,” she asserts before getting to the bottom of the opening track. head acerbic: “Please let me be, please let me be misunderstood.”

“It was like, this is me, this is my art, and if you don’t get it, that’s great, because it’s mine. It is not yours anyway to understand. And if you get it, then we can have it together,” the musician told The Daily Beast of the piece titled “Mistake”. “It’s like, every time you don’t hear it makes me scream more, and that’s what gave me my voice.”

That’s a fitting statement from an artist who, since emerging on SoundCloud in 2013, has never been able to make the list. The 33-year-old California native, born Jillian Rose Banks, established herself as a brooding, alt-R&B quirky with her first two albums, Goddess and Altar, took her on tour with The Weeknd and implicitly inspired Lordes and Billie Eilished to the latter-day pop scene. At the time she dropped III in 2019 she went on a bigger rope swing into darker, weirder places, crossed bravely, Yeezus-like production with a voice that can sound like a faint whisper one minute and distort menacingly the next.

Her penchant for breathless thrills continued on her fourth album, Serpentina, released on Friday. Long time no see; she released the lead single, “The Devil”, back in June 2021, a sensual voyage into the underworld punctuated by horror movie screams and raucous vocals about turned into her most sinister self. And now that the world is starting to open up again, she is doing the same, excited about the plot a summer trip and prepare to share these songs, her “babys,” with the world.

BANKS is somewhat restrained and lightly spoken when it comes to her music, which is surprising considering her new, hard-won ownership of it. This is her first release as an independent artist, who now owns her main records, an achievement that has left her “feeling more free than ever and in control.” more” after a particularly taxing two-year period following her tour for III In early 2020. Besides coinciding with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, ending that tour also saw BANKS recovering from a breakup, breaking his spine and being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune thyroid disease. Physically and mentally exhausted, she returned home to Los Angeles and rested, even if only for a short while. It wasn’t long before she started writing new music; not with the intention of making an album, but “purely as a therapy”, as she has done since she was a teenager. But this time, things were different, from the setting – she built an in-house studio so she could work whenever she wanted – to the collapsing list of collaborators, which included Shlohmo, the house. producer behind the 2014 fan-favorite single “Uc.”

“It started just because I was adapting to my environment and because I couldn’t go to the set and couldn’t work with other producers or engineers,” BANKS said of starting. Serpentina. “So I said, OK, well, I guess I’m going to have to learn to design myself and learn to manufacture entirely myself. So it started out unnecessary and ended up being the greatest luck of my life. ”

She added: “I feel very empowered just doing it alone. “It’s such a great feeling to be able to sit in the studio and not only write songs, but produce, create sounds and have a realistic vision for me. I really focused on having my voice at the top of the pretty heavy music on this album. I think that’s really important to me as a musician, because on the basis of who I am, I’m a musician. When I first got used to it, it wasn’t even about production, it was just about chords, progressions and lyrics. I like going back to basics that way. “

I feel so strong just doing it alone.

One of the most striking examples of that approach is the ending track, a naked piano ballad titled “I Still Love You” that she has kept in the vault for more than a decade.

“I wrote it about someone when I was 20 that I fell in love with — or 23, or no matter how old I am,” she said. “I don’t think about him anymore, but when I listen to the song, it still affects me. I think that’s the great thing about music, it’s timeless. ‘I Still Love You’ was so easy for me because it really felt like I could play it in my sleep. It’s in my blood at this point. It became a part of me. ”

“But it’s time to let that go and I’m really happy I did,” she continued. “It’s like just allowing you to keep moving forward instead of focusing on the past, like a new vehicle, creating all new things.”

Similarly, she’s ripped her heart out in songs like “Birds by the Sea,” about a past love interest who is now having a baby with another woman, and sadistic soul “Burn.” ” (“I will be your candle, watch me burn”). But the album’s crux is powerful — even when she’s mourning or thinking, she finally comes to a place of peace of mind, especially in “Deadend,” she tells one person. ex, “I don’t want another dead end… I finished tryna writing about you,” and “Skinnydipped,” a soulful rendition of a song that will make you wonder how she couldn’t. added hip-hop features throughout his nearly decade-long career. (Actually, she didn’t know either: “Maybe I’ll do some more. That sounds fun, it just needs to be right.”)

It all comes down to concept Serpentina: a title inspired by, yes, snakes, but also the idea of ​​reincarnation and shedding so you can keep growing. Or as BANKS put it, “It’s about confidence and trusting your own intuition. Believe in yourself and believe in your direction, in your vision. ”

She said: “When I was little, I used to scribble the word ‘serpentine’ in class, just because I thought it looked good. “I started doing it when I was thinking of the name, and I put the ‘a’ at the end because it felt like it was really divine and kind of goddess energy. The word ‘serpentina’ is like a chapter, a major chapter in your life, or a moment, or an energy that you carry around, and it’s like the energy of the album. “

That energy shows through most of the album’s maximal moments, the door-stopping moments, of which are numerous (the “Beggin for Thread” stans won’t disappoint). On her hit track “Meteorite,” she vows to leave her inhibitions at the door, then ventures into trap-pop territory on her confident “Fuck Love.” And then there’s “Spirit,” an upbeat, gospel-inspired song featuring singer Samoht.

“He is one of my friends and his voice makes me melt,” BANKS said. “That song is about lifting each other up. The world desperately needs it right now. Those gospel tunes and vocals, I’ve always been fascinated by them, and I think in order for them to be more involved in this album… you can tell there’s a lot of influence even on songs that don’t. most devices affected by it . ”

Probably the best example of that is also SerpentinaThe brightest of: “Holding Back,” boasting explosive beats, vibrating beats, climactic choruses, and BANKS’ most energetic sound to date. The once-shy social media artist even embraced TikTok by duet with her fans in the open verse challenge “Holding Back”, reacting to strangers’ interpretations of her work. her work with an indulgence you wouldn’t necessarily expect from such a well-guarded exterior.

“I love it when a song that I write influences someone,” she says. “I like when it helps them through something or they feel understood by it and it feels like we’ve been through something similar if we both connect with the concept of the song. this. But I really don’t even… whenever I’m in an interview and people ask me what the song is about, I don’t even really like saying it, just because if it’s about something it’s for other people and it helps them get through that, then if they hear me say it’s about something else, it probably won’t do it for them anymore. It could be about different things for different people. “

It’s important to her that people take the time to listen before arriving to understand (or misunderstand, as the opening song means). “I hope people listen to this song and feel empowered and happy,” she said, the same way she feels creating these songs — in her own home, in her own way. her and with a new sense of confidence in her work.

So at a listening session in Los Angeles two days after we spoke, BANKS was ready to play a new piece of music from Serpentina, she didn’t shy away from asking a particular group of people who liked to chat in the back of the room to be quiet and listen. “See, I probably didn’t say something before. I’ll just talk to people at my own damn event,” she said, before emphasizing that speakers must be turned up all the way.

Misunderstand her all you want, but it will only make her bigger.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-banks-slithered-into-the-drivers-seat-on-serpentina?source=articles&via=rss HOW THE BANKS REMOVE TO THE Driver’s Seat on the ‘Serpentina’

Russell Falcon

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