Banks’ second album is about finding her strength. Two years on from debut ‘Goddess’, the LA-based artist is ‘shedding old skin’ and presenting a new-found sense of control and power.
It’s a theme that’s evident when watching the striking visuals for lead singles ‘Fuck With Myself’ and ‘Gemini Feed’. In the first, Banks is seen taunting and smearing lipstick over a cast model of her own face before setting fire to it; in the other she is tied up in rope, trying to free herself.
Describing herself as ‘sombre but upbeat’, Banks says her debut record was like reading her private diary aloud, whereas album number two is ‘me without any hesitation’.
What’s happened in your life in the two years since ‘Goddess’?
When I finished touring for ‘Goddess’ I was so ready to start my next album. I have grown so much since it was released. I’ve found new powerful parts of myself and I was ready to explore these, set them free like when you feel new muscles after you’ve climbed a mountain.
How has this inspired ‘The Altar’?
My new album reflects all of these parts of me, and shows the process of shedding old skin and coming into a newness.
What has been the driving force behind the new album?
Transformation. Paths taken and those left behind. But mostly transformation and what I learned about my strengths as an artist, as a business woman and as a human. My songs tell my story; they’re how I process the world around me and the people I love or those I’ve lost.
Is there a story behind ‘The Altar’ as the album title?
I was driving in LA, my hometown, and I passed a run down altar. I don’t remember if it was to the Virgin Mary or anything specific but it was beautiful and decrepit at the same time. It made me think about what we worship, where we sacrifice, where we say and do our holiest acts. My music is my religion. It’s where I sacrifice, where I pray, where I ask for help and find answers.
What are you trying to convey in the ‘Fuck With Myself’ and ‘Gemini Feed’ videos?
I wanted to tell the stories in ways people could take away multiple meanings. ‘Fuck With Myself’ is about what we do to ourselves, how we can be our own worst enemy or our own best friend - or all of that at the same time.
‘Gemini Feed’ is about duplicity, power in relationships and the lightness and darkness. I wanted to show heaven, hell and purgatory.
‘Gemini Feed’ is sombre but still comes across upbeat. How did you make that work?
That’s pretty much me in a nutshell. I followed my instincts and it came naturally.
How would you say your sound has developed since ‘Goddess’?
I took more risks, felt more empowered. ‘Goddess’ was me reading my private diary; ‘The Altar’ is me without any hesitation.
How did you feel whilst creating the new album – was there a sense of pressure?
Deadlines feel like the death of creation to me. I tried not to focus on it. I am really proud of this album and how organically I made it.
Who and what has been inspiring you?
I’m inspired by life; by the people around me. I didn’t really listen to music while making it but I love the Jadu Heart album.
Where have you been recording and who have you worked on it with?
I recorded it in LA, mostly with Tim Anderson, Sohn and DJ Dahi.
Is there an overall theme or message to ‘The Altar’?
I hope people connect to it. I felt so empowered and vulnerable and in love and heartbroken all at once while making it. I feel such a range of emotions listening to the music I love so I can only hope my music touches people and moves them... Deep down, I want aliens in outer space to groove to it.
Banks’ album ‘The Altar’ is out 30th September.