U.K. singer and songwriter Jacob Banks is heading back to the United States to perform at Coachella 2018, and this gospel-inspired sound isn’t one to miss. Banks, originally from Birmingham, England, has achieved incredible recognition since releasing his debut EP The Monologue in 2013. After becoming the first unsigned artists to perform on BBC’s Radio 1 Live Lounge, Jacob Banks won the Adidas “Are You In” music competition and then ultimately signed to Interscope Records.
At SXSW 2017, I showed up to the FADER Sessions showcase ready to see U.K. artist Little Simz, but in regular SXSW fashion, I left the show open to more music than originally planned. As Jacob Banks opened the set, I was immediately transfixed on his husky voice that oppositely matched his beanie-wearing style. When his song “Chainsmoking” began with the single drum bass and guitar riffs, I imagined almost a prison line of individuals walking through a field, as if Banks purposefully meant to link love with torture. Throughout his performance, Banks focused on connecting with the audience through soulful sound, rather than physical interaction, feeling the music in his bones as he sang over each instrumental.
Following his SXSW stint, Banks officially released The Boy Who Cried Freedom, reflects on authentic Delta Blues, a style originating in Mississippi in the 1920s, and labeled for African American records. Although Banks is Nigerian (living in London), his global reach is a technique not used by most artists in the United States hip hop scene. While we are seeing conversations surrounding specific events in the U.S. like racial inequality and politics, Banks instead adheres to human feelings like heartbreak and love as a way to connect to his audience.
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In December, Banks performed his new single “Unknown (To You)” on Seth Myers’ talk show; once again touching the hearts of all of us as he sang about distance between a father and son. I think it’s incredible to just watch the pureness of a Banks performance, as he never needs fluff or crazy dance moves; he just sings. And it’s so beautiful.
Catch Jacob Banks during both weekends of Coachella, Sunday April 15th & 22nd.
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(Photo Courtesy: Jacob Banks, Twitter)