V88

ARTICLE JOHN NORRIS

PHOTOGRAPHY INEZ & VINOODH

STYLIST CARLYNE CERF DE DUDZEELE

CREDITS ARTICLE CONTENTS

PREMIERE VIDEO: DUM DUM GIRLS - TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD

HBD MERT ALAS

BANKS

EXTRA CREDITS

Makeup Jeanine Lobell (Tim Howard Management)  Hair Jamis Pecis (D+V)  Manicure Jessica Washick for Deborah Lippmann (The Magnet Agency)  Lighting director Jodokus Driessen  Digital technician Brian Anderson  Studio manager Marc Kroop  VLM Print producer Jeff Lepine  Photo assistant Joe Hume  Stylist assistant Kate Grella Makeup assistant Setsuko Tate  Hair assistants Holly Mills, Tim aylward, Tailor Alberta Roc  Production Stephanie Bargas (theCollectiveShift)  Retouching Stereohorse Location Pier 59 Studios, New York  Catering Smile to Go

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BANKS

PHOTOGRAPHY INEZ & VINOODH
FASHION CARLYNE CERF DE DUDZEELE
TEXT JOHN NORRIS

RAISED IN L.A. AND BELOVED IN LONDON, THIS NIGHT OWL ONLY WANTS HER SIREN SONG TO BE HEARD

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It’s more than mere coincidence that three of the four rising female acts featured in this issue of V have taken the same path to success: conquer Britain first. Long the most musically adventurous market on the planet, the U.K. has a handful of pop touchstones that catalyze word of mouth, including the BBC’s annual “Sound Of…” poll. In the past two years, “Sound Of…” nominees have included HAIM (who won the poll in 2013), Say Lou Lou, and BANKS, a young purveyor of moody electro R&B from Los Angeles who has found London to be quite the welcoming place. 

“It’s been really crazy over there,” says Jillian Banks, who uses only her surname as an artist, and prefers her eponymous stage name in all caps. “The British taste is a bit different, maybe drawn to something a little outside the box. And it’s so funny, a lot of people think that I’m from London, after hearing my music. I have had so many people, when I say that I’m from L.A., be shocked.” It’s an understandable mistake. Not to stereotype a city’s sound, but BANKS’s songs on her aptly titled London EP—released last fall—are generally more Lambeth than Laurel Canyon: dark, smoky, atmospheric, and by her own description “nocturnal,” at times recalling Englishman James Blake or New Yorker Arthur Ashin, aka Autre Ne Veut. “I think Los Angeles is so sunny and kind of laid back in a way, and my music isn’t really that at all. It almost tenses you up. It doesn’t feel sunny, it feels heavy.” 

Proudly untrained as an artist, BANKS found her voice a decade ago, at fifteen, when she needed it most, as her parents were going through a divorce. “I got into music by just needing an outlet, needing something. I feel so lucky to have discovered it.” Consequently she holds nothing back when describing its visceral importance to her. “It’s necessary for me just to breathe. It’s my blood. I don’t think I would be alive without it,” she proclaims. “And I’m not even kidding when I say that. It’s like air for me.”

You hear a lot of unbridled passion when speaking with BANKS, who proudly considers herself a feminist, and was happy to see an “awesome conversation” around what feminism means surface in music circles in 2013, advanced by the likes of Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES and the Miley-Sinead back-and-forth. And two equally passionate women not given to a filter are BANKS’s oft-cited idols: Lauryn Hill, whose “Ex-Factor” BANKS covers in her live set, and Fiona Apple, whose primal intensity is echoed in BANKS’s pulsating 2013 breakthrough song, “Before I Ever Met You.” 

“With Fiona, it’s like she needs to write those songs or she will go insane,” says BANKS. “And that’s the way I am with my music. If I am in that mood where I need to write something and I can’t, it’s like I can’t even talk.” 

BANKS is poised to finally take her homeland in 2014. While her first-ever U.S. headlining shows only happened in December, in L.A. and San Francisco, a full American tour is expected to follow the spring release of her debut album, a record full of even more dusky, hypnotic gems. There’s “Brain,” a collaboration with L.A. producer Shlomo; “Loon,” a favorite word of BANKS’s, alluding to going crazy “like an animal” for someone; another SOHN creation, called “Alibi”; and “Siren Song,” an empowering track whose inspiration came many years ago when her mom, post-divorce, took her and her sister to Positano, Italy. 

“We took a boat to an island that was based off of the island from The Odyssey,” she recalls. “And there was nothing else there. Not even an animal. My mom and my sister and I were alone and so broken, but we were also so powerful and like we were all sirens. It felt special to sit there, like it was meant to happen. And it was this amazing thing, because I think I always want women to feel empowered and like goddesses, like Mother Earth.”

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EXTRA CREDITS

Makeup Jeanine Lobell (Tim Howard Management)  Hair Jamis Pecis (D+V)  Manicure Jessica Washick for Deborah Lippmann (The Magnet Agency)  Lighting director Jodokus Driessen  Digital technician Brian Anderson  Studio manager Marc Kroop  VLM Print producer Jeff Lepine  Photo assistant Joe Hume  Stylist assistant Kate Grella Makeup assistant Setsuko Tate  Hair assistants Holly Mills, Tim aylward, Tailor Alberta Roc  Production Stephanie Bargas (theCollectiveShift)  Retouching Stereohorse Location Pier 59 Studios, New York  Catering Smile to Go

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GABOUREY GOES GOTH HIGHER LEARNING SEXY BEAST NEW SCHOOL ROMEO
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