I’ll admit that I’m a very cynical critic when it comes to new artists. Everyone today has a platform to distribute his or her voice. It allows undiscovered talent to showcase their gifts, but also gives gimmicky personas 15 minutes of fame (insert 90% of mainstream hip-hop). Because of this, I take most new artist with a grain a salt, as they have to prove their value before I become a supportive fan. Well, this past weekend, I waived my white flag and surrendered my approval for BANKS.

Jillian Banks, or BANKS, utilized SoundCloud to get her music out, and luckily for the music world, it got into the right hands, and now the LA bred BANKS is on the fast track to stardom. She recently teamed up with tumblr for its IRL initiative where musical artists collaborated with visual artists to communicate their stories. Past participants include Childish Gambino, Chromeo, Broken Bells, and Little Dragon. BANKS joined forces with UK based graphic designer and illustrator Kate Moross to translate her debut album Goddess into pieces of art.

You can Google search “Banks Tumblr IRL” and get a bunch of event reviews that all sound the same, so I’ll try to offer my unique perspective. The work featured at the Openhouse Gallery in SoHo referenced lyrics or song titles from Goddess. The pieces were very minimal, but when accompanied with poignant phrases, they had a very thoughtful effect. To me this demonstrates the substance behind BANKS’ lyrics, which really enhanced my affinity for her as an artist. I hope all the selfie-taking guests believed same thing.

Goddess officially comes out September 9th and they were playing the album aloud during the event. I got to listen to the full thing a few days earlier and I definitely recommend it. BANKS demonstrates her musical dynamics with songs that range from alternative R&B to stripped down ballads, all laced with deep and passionate stories. Again, you can head to a more reputable music blog to get a full album breakdown, but Goddess is a MUST listen in my opinion.

The icing on the cake was hearing BANKS perform live. She seems like a very low-key, shy, and almost dark girl. BANKS shed a couple joyous tears at the beginning of her performance, stating that this was her first show for Goddess and she was truly appreciate for everyone for supporting her. Damn, girl. As she crooned a handful of songs, I became entrenched in her soothing, alluring, and sexy voice. It wasn’t powerful or commanding, but you can’t help but lock your ears on her song. BANKS did a cover of Trey Songz “Na Na” and it was probably one of the sexiest things I’ve seen a while. By the end of the show, BANKS proved her worth and claimed me as a new fan. She has an amazing voice and she’s also very good looking. Pleasing to the eyes and ears, what else can you ask for?

Check out Goddess. Songs I liked: “Alibi”, “This is What It Feels Like”, “Drowning”, and “Someone New”. Also check out herdedicated tumblr page for some of the art featured. Scroll down for some photos I took.

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Rex Pham

Originally from the Bay Area, who then moved to Los Angeles, then out to New York City. NYU Stern MBA c/o 2014. Inspired by the grind of NYC to create something that has value. Lover of all things digital, culture, and brand strategy.

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