Some people make art to show the world what’s inside. To be seen and heard, to leave a legacy, make a mark, fly their flag. And some people make art just because they have to, if only for themselves, because for them life and art are synonymous – they run the same track, snaking together in one knotted spine. This is how it is for singer/songwriter Jillian Banks, aka Banks, who at 15 taught herself the piano and started writing music as a way of dealing with the trauma of her parents’ divorce. The spotlight found her soon after the release of her debut album Goddess in 2014, and it shone brightly – Banks became the most blogged about female artist in the world.
“My music is me … I write everything because I have to, and then I put it into the world.”
It’s obvious making music is deeply personal for Banks, enmeshed with her evolution as a woman and an artist. She has made no secret of her struggles with bouts of darkness and depression over the years – it’s all right there in the lyrics, nothing is withheld. Writing music, she says, is how she processes everything, not just the dark times, and she creates with an almost compulsive urgency.
“It starts with a melody, and then a word and then a line and then a concept and then a song and then all of a sudden you’ve written about something that you needed to write about that you didn’t even know you needed to write about.”
Feeling empowered as a woman to fully and unapologetically inhabit her space in the world is central to the DNA of her new album The Alter. The raspy, haunting vocals and hypnotic soundscapes that oscillate between a deep purple intensity and the levity of dancing tiptoes, resonate with a gentle strength that is distinctly, powerfully, female.
“It seems like every song I write I started writing when I was born … it’s based on your life and how you got to where you are – how you learned to think the way you do.”
PHOTOGRAPHY Mason Stevenson
FASHION Billie Iveson
HAIR Anthony Nader @ Work Agency using Oribe
MAKEUP Teneille Sorgiovanni @ Work Agency using M.A.C
STYLIST’S ASSISTANTS Natalie Petrevski and Ellen Presbury