Falling leaves and raising profiles: a new voice in R&B
Enter a sun-soaked bedroom, a California-King, falling leaves, and a vintage Merc. Sounds pretty cinematic right? This is ‘Autumn’, the debut video from Brandon Banks-a 23-year-old singer-songwriter and model from Inglewood (California) who is breathing new life into LA’s R&B scene.
In the follow-up to the silky beats and chorus of his 2017 Soundcloud teaser track: ‘R.T.B.’, 2018 has seen interest in Banks build despite a light social media presence; a young artist carving a unique path, message and visual ahead of the release of his debut EP: ‘Tides’ this Summer.
Brandon Banks - Autumn (Video)
Directed by: Jacob "Kuba" Bojsza & Aus Taylor
Produced by: Natalya Yonathan & Matthew Mucci
‘Autumn’ is an immersive dream sequence, a lament to lost love and exploration of personal purgatory far removed from the conventional chart sounds. Banks’ melancholic harmonies explore the suppression of inner demons, which concealed in his stylish wardrobe and lavish exterior, paint a poignant message that endures long after the last sax note. We sat down with the up-and coming artist to chat about his first visual release and EP; exploring his process, projects, aspirations, and message ahead of his busiest year yet.
I love the new video: its visuals, themes, and melodies. Why ‘Autumn’ as the first track to be released from your debut EP?
I felt like ‘Autumn’ was a good way to introduce the mood of the EP and, to be honest, I was a bit hesitant to release a song called Autumn in the spring, but I realized that seasons don’t really apply to music when you’re speaking from your heart.
Autumn was filmed in Arcadia (California), not far from where you grew up. As an LA native, what changes have you seen in your surroundings as a young adult and how far have they shaped your sound?
I feel some of the biggest changes I’ve seen are the people I’ve lost in my life, and when I say “lost” I don’t mean death… well, some death, but mostly people losing themselves: mentally, financially, spiritually. Watching friends and family succumb to life instead of living it can hurt. As for my sound, pain has always played a big role in how I write and the melodies I use. Personally, I need music to be a peaceful escape, so I try to bring that out with ambient sounds and relaxing melodies.
Online platforms have become a key part of modern music promotion and exposure. It seems you have patiently built on the success of R.T.B., quietly collating your debut EP away from the spotlight. Do you feel there is a pressure and temptation to ‘overuse’ social media as a young artist?
Honestly, I don’t feel any pressure when it comes to socials. My biggest concern is presenting a cohesive body of work that is tangible. Music and visuals really mean something to me, it’s hard to focus on being a socialite and also have substance creatively.
Social media is such a highlight reel , it’s all about clicks, so I tend to just focus on my process, putting all my time into the quality of the work and only then sharing it. I feel that the implementation of social media makes people focus on the end result only and not the process. Anything worth having takes time and effort.
Song-writing is a personal and dynamic process. How do you approach your craft: focusing on single track ‘vignettes’ or with the all-consuming ‘big project’ in mind?
For me, each song is a different journey into my mind, and my emotions. So I tend to just dive into each track individually and live in that moment until it’s finished. When I get into a groove and start writing a song, I honestly feel like my mind goes into another dimension and the words kind of flow out. It’s kind of like I’m a vessel that the music is flowing through, I’m just here for the ride.
‘Autumn’ moved me, flexing your versatility as an artist with a very different vibe and theme to R.T.B. Was this an intentional change in sound and should more be done to raise the awareness of emotional isolation in young males through music?
Actually, no it wasn’t intentional. I’m still finding myself and learning more about who I am, so each new song is a good representation of the growth happening in my life-also finding out what I like more sonically, and being able to hone in on those things.
I do believe a lot should be done, I think from an early age there’s an unnecessary amount of pressure put on males. We’re taught to be rigid, not to feel, that emotion is a sign of weakness-what happens is we suppress everything and those emotions later come out as anger, or depression, drug addiction-the list goes on. I want to make it cool to feel. We are all human, we long for companionship and love at our core, so I don’t understand why we’re taught to suppress our instincts, people should be okay with communicating how they feel without being looked at in a negative light. We all get angry, sad, happy, fall in love, lose someone. We all share the same emotions, so it should be cool to talk about it openly.
The imagery used in ‘Autumn’ is stunning. Why the choice of settings and how closely do you intend to blend other art forms (photography, fashion, and video) in your future work?
The music talks about dreams, and memories, so we wanted to figure out how to make something in real life look like a memory, or look like a hazy dream. We wanted everything to look timeless, so we chose a location that makes it hard to pinpoint an exact era. I want to make timeless music one day… or maybe I’m already making it, I don’t know, I guess we’ll have to check back in ten years haha.
I intend to blend all art forms, everything in art is relative to each other, it’s all expression. Whether that is dance, music, painting, sculpting, photography or film. It all stems from expressing an emotion, telling a story of someone’s life in some way. With that being said, I am really into film and photography-luckily I have amazing people around me like Kuba [a director of ‘Autumn’] who have a vision and can turn a thought into a movie in real time. I can only do that with music right now, so I’m learning more everyday with the hope of being able to direct and edit in the near future.
We can’t wait for the drop of your debut EP! What themes and flavors can we expect and which track do you feel will resonate most with your listeners?
Hmm… good question, I don’t really know how to categorize my music but if I were to explain it, I would say my music is immersive-people should expect to experience my music, not just listen to it. I think people are really going to resonate with ‘Castaway’, it’s the most important song on that project to me.
You’re a busy guy! Also modeling for the likes of Nike & Champion—who are your inspirations in fashion and music?
I dabble a bit in the modeling world, I have different inspos for different moods when it comes to clothes, but I’m a big fan of Hedi Slimane-I have a cowboy alter ego, so I rock a lot of Saint Laurent-Gucci has been on fire these past few years too, they’re killing it, and Fendi … I am a sucker for vintage Fendi pieces, they complete a fit with perfection. Music-wise, man that’s tough… There’s so much good music out there. I would say, right now, Outkast, Frank, Toro, James Blake, Tame Impala, and Earth Wind & Fire are on my everyday rotation.
At the moment, who are some of the hidden talents you arelistening to that we should know about?
Man, there’s this group called Villain Park from LA, boys have BARS… and this artist named Mereba, she could probably bar up your fav rapper lowkey, and also I feel like people are sleeeeeep on Tom Misch. Beat Tape 2 has been on repeat for three years.
Is there a debut tour on the cards?
I hope so! Honestly, I’m just happy people like the music, I hope we can get on a tour sometime soon, somebody tell Frank I said “please let me open for him just once!” lol, or even just sit in a session haha.
Autumn, Spring, Summer, or Winter?
Spring, new life, more life, more everything… blem.