Banks Talks "III" One Week After Its Release

Banks Talks "III" One Week After Its Release

Banks sat down to discuss her new album and her much-anticipated return to the industry.

Banks sat down to discuss her new album and her much-anticipated return to the industry.

Photography: Connor Franta

Styling: Tiffani Chynel

Text: MATHIAS ROSENZWEIG

“She seems mean,” one friend commented when I mentioned interviewing Jillian Banks. To be fair, being the human incarnation of the term “brooding” does not exactly illustrate a ray of sunshine. But Banks is warm and inviting over the phone. She does not shy away from questions, or become defensive when I accidentally describe her two previous albums as sounding “bitter;” (I meant to say angry). Instead, she talks candidly about her personal life, does not sound cheesy when discussing song melodies coming to her in her dreams, and is forgiving of my spotty cell phone service when calling from Croatia. Moreover, she offers up more time for a second call when my computer crashes and the entire interview is lost. I like to think it’s metaphoric for a fresh start, as is her new album III.

Which, finally, brings us to the album. Tracks like “Gimme” still have the alt-pop vigor that made Banks a celebrated musician and indie princess, one who still reigns supreme at mid-size venues without petering over into being a household name, something that would very much buffer her edge. But there is an obvious evolution. Banks retains her bite while sounding somewhat brighter, perhaps more open to love than focused on relationships gone awry.

“It’s not like my relationship to music has changed,” she explains. “It’s more the songs I’m writing are different ones than I would have written just because I’m going through different things…. While I made this album, I was confronting certain things that I probably needed to confront for a while, so I think that I was having certain breakthroughs and, you know, growing up. Every day you change a little bit. So however much I have changed is how much my music has changed.”

One thing that seems to have not changed is Banks’s dichotomous nature; her work is so extremely personal, emotional even, and yet her appearance is tough, cool, even “mean.” You simultaneously have the feeling of knowing her intimately and not knowing her at all. Her music is ours but she is not. Recognition of the ladder led to her taking a break from the industry.

“I just need a break from everything—cameras and interviews and touring, and pretty much just being seen. I just needed some time to be reclusive I guess and sometimes you just have to step away to recenter…I think that gave me some time to understand what I was feeling.”

III is now available for purchase and streaming everywhere.

Dress: Zimmermann
Credits: Makeup: Kate Synnott (The Wall Group); Hair: Johnnie Sapong for Leonor Greyl at Salon Benjamin (The Wall Group); Producer: Ian David Monroe; Location: Sunset Studios (LA).

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