Unity Through Music: A Conversation with Jacob Banks

Jacob Banks © Edward Cooke
Jacob Banks © Edward Cooke
Jacob Banks’ brand of authenticity shines brightly still on latest single “Just When I Thought,” also announcing his upcoming album ‘Lies About the War,’ and Atwood Magazine spoke with the artist on the journey leading here.
Stream: “Just When I Thought” – Jacob Banks

I think music is seen and not heard.

The color palettes of Jacob Banks’ music create a visual symphony of swirling notes and impassioned vocal trembles. The power he possesses brings aural and visual together, a skill that has been able to set Banks as an artist of an incomparable caliber. Like clockwork, “Just When I Thought” only continues this spectacle, now to an even greater effect.

Just When I Thought – Jacob Banks
We’re trading silence
Do you believe in faith or science?
I don’t mind the sirens
‘Cause at least it brings me guidance
I still believe in us
I still wanna call it love
But I guess this is what we’ve become
And you won’t put down your smoking gun

The song is a letter to powerlessness – the idea that not everything can be fixed. Moments in life are bigger than us all, and Banks accepted this truth with grace and a keen sense of musical craftsmanship. Fans shouldn’t expect any less, and with his new album Lies About The War coming later this year, these moments of enchantment will only blossom.

On the album, Banks stated he’s “settling into my soul bag.” Banks has never been one to sit on one genre, often blending the worlds of R&B, soul, hip-hop, and even rock to form pieces uniquely his. The last venture will go down a road of hopefulness and one of the soul where fans will see Banks in a more reflective light.

Atwood Magazine was itching to learn more, so we chatted with the artist about what the past two years have been like, the unifying aspects of music, and maybe how Call of Duty influenced his process.

Just when I thought you were ready for me
Kingdoms and the heavens falling
Just when I thought you were ready for me
Thunder and the rain is pouring
Just when I thought you were ready for me
Kingdoms and the heavens falling
Just when I thought you were ready for me
Thunder and the rain is pouring
Jacob Banks © Edward Cooke


Atwood Magazine: You’ve created such splendor with ‘’Just When I Thought,’’ and I love the notion of rebelling and surrendering to powerlessness. Is there a specific moment you can pinpoint where this epiphany occurred, or rather was this a lesson you’ve been learning daily these past two years?

Jacob Banks: I think it’s more of a daily experience, there was really no end in sight and this was just something I couldn’t fix and I was always the fixer. I could always talk my way out and I had to just sit there and accept that this was so much bigger than me.

You’ve been vocal about the importance of emotion and feeling when it comes to your music, a trait that doesn’t always come easily to some. You, however, seem to have a real mastery of it, but I’m curious if there are moments where it gets to be a bit much. When tapping into that emotion, are there moments of difficulty where you reconsider putting that rawness out there?

Banks: So far, so good. It’s been fine. Maybe it was a little daunting in the past but I realized that, ultimately, people take what they need from songs, not necessarily what I say. I just have to create the space and not get in the way. Plus, I think it’s my duty.

Your lyrical prowess is also something that stands out with your music. You make it easy to fall into these gorgeously crafted stories. As you approach lyrics, do you find it easier to start with nothing or do you try to create a melody and beat first?

Banks: Music first, then melody. The lyrics part is what I find the easiest ’cause it feels more like trying to remember a dream. When the melody is there, the lyrics will come.

Watch: “Just When I Thought” – Jacob Banks

Speaking of lyrics, ‘’Just When I Thought’' seems to dive deep into less glamorous sides of love. Where were you at headspace-wise when crafting this particular song?

Banks: I was in a place where it was a regular occurrence that I thought I had it figured and God was like “That’s hella cute.” There’s the poem by Hafiz that says “God and I are like two fat people in a tiny boat. We keep bumping into each other and laughing.” I’m the fat dude.

Something I’ve admired has been the cinematic nature of many of your music videos. The way they elevate the storytelling is breathtaking. What’s the strategy behind them? Do you have visual elements in mind when creating your music?

Banks: I think music is seen and not heard. I think great music initiates a memory playback in your head, and I like to assist that process. Music and visuals go hand in hand and I get to offer another option on how to interpret a song.

Onto your upcoming album Lies About The War; much has changed since the release of Village. What was different about creating this album compared to others in the past?

Banks: I think I’m settling into my soul bag. For a while, I tried to not lean into the traditional soul template because I was young, cool, and sexy… but now I’m just young and sexy. Lies About The War is more hopeful and more soulful. It’s a different colour palette.

I want to say congratulations on Nobody Records as well. It’s a large endeavor to launch one’s own label. With launching it, what aspect about it did you find the most thrilling and what aspect provided the most unexpected roadblock?

Banks: Thank you very much. It didn’t feel foreign at all you know… not much changed. Even when I was on major labels, the homies and I always ran the shop. It felt natural and I’m in a fortunate position so it’s fun.

Jacob Banks © Edward Cooke

From your beginnings in music to now, how do you feel you have grown not only as an artist but as a person as well?

Banks: As a musician, I now know my role here and I love my journey. As a person, I’m really good on Call of Duty.

Funny you should mention that because you've stated that you’ve gotten good at Call of Duty during these lockdowns but just how good are we talking about? What’s your KD looking like?

Banks: 1.4 KD, supreme with the clutches, we are talking 2999 IQ.

Last question for you: With your album’s release on the horizon, I’m curious where your eyes are set after that. What’s exciting you most about the future of your career? Any directions or new territories you are looking forward to exploring?

Banks: I’m going to go do life. The doors are opening again, so I want to catch up on some memories. I want to write scripts for the silver screen. Catch me in a Starbucks near you.

I’m going to go do life. The doors are opening again, so I want to catch up on some memories.

Stream: “Just When I Thought” – Jacob Banks

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? © Edward Cooke

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