By: Victoria Clark
At only 25 years old, singer songwriter Jillian Banks, aka “Banks,” has taken the pop/ hip hop world by storm with her poignant yet catchy songs like “This Is What it Feels Like” and “Before I Ever Met You.” Although she has yet to release her first full-length album, her EP’s have given listeners a clear depiction of what she has to offer and what distinguishes her from the slew of other artists her age. From first listen, it is her mature, wise, yet honest vibe that entices audiences, which she states is a result of the struggles she faced as a young teen.
Following her parents’ divorce at the raw age of 15, Banks fell into a deep depression, more grave than what most adolescents typically face. In order to cope with the unfamiliar changes spiraling around her, she decided to pick up a keyboard that was given to her as a gift and began to write and compose music as an emotional outlet and a means of liberation.
After listening to a few of her songs and reading lyrics like:
“Everyone knows I’m right about one thing
You and I don’t work out
You bring out the mean in me
I bring out your insecurities
You know what I am talking bout
Eventually you’ll be fine if we break up
And one day I’ll be fine too
But we should just end it now
Before someone gets more hurt than they have to…” (“Before I Ever Met You”)
it becomes evident that this young artist speaks from her heart, and more importantly, from experience, which is what instantly connects the audience to her music.
Finally, after an introduction to her music by a friend and some countless listens to her EPs Fall Over and London, I decided to buy tickets to see her perform at Irving Plaza this past week. As it was my first time at that venue and more importantly, seeing her in concert, I was unsure about what to expect, especially because I still consider her to be an “up-and-coming” artist with a small fan base. However, what began as an unfamiliar experience ended up being one of the best “new artists” I have seen in concert. The quaint venue coupled with her simplistic band, consisting of only a keyboardist and a drummer, was the perfect combination.
Banks’ performance, more importantly, was exactly what I hoped it would be: soulful, passionate, and even modest (which may be a result of her newfound stardom.) In between songs, she sincerely thanked the fans for their loyalty and support and during her sets she could be seen using the stage as a mini catwalk striking a fierce pose with each hook. And although her show was considerably short, it was exactly what was needed to get fans excited and eager to hear her debut album, Goddess, which will be released in September 2014.
With lyrics that resonate with anyone ever having been in love or having gone through turmoil, Banks makes one thing very clear – pain and struggle can either be an inhibiting force, or the necessary power needed to help you find your gift, and in her case it was music.