The hubs found Jacob Banks and after I listened to his stirring sound, I was hooked. I write both professionally and creatively and his music just inspires some of my favorite characters. His sound reminds me of Ray Charles, but smoother. I can get lost in the meaningful lyrics he sings. You may have heard some of his work on video games and television series.
His videos are miniature feature films in and of themselves, each telling a story. The soul in this voice is amazing. He’s actually made it big so far as he’s concerned, but because he’s a UK artist, I suppose I had just not heard of him until now. So, I’m sharing him here with you.
Born in Nigeria, Jacob Banks admits that he wasn’t really into music until he was around 10 years old and films and their music scores made him begin loving music. As a child, he was particularly into Disney soundtracks. He was into enjoying music, but not actually into it. Banks moved to Birmingham in England at the age of 13 and moved into poetry.
He dabbled in all forms of the creative arts and began singing, playing guitar, and writing songs at the age of 20. He really took off into music as a musician after university. Banks got his start at open mic nights and quickly garnered a following for his commanding vocal presence and daringly intimate songwriting.
The death of a good friend at age 21 made Jacob realize that life is not guaranteed and so you might as well do what you love. He might have gone to college to be a civil engineer, but he wound up diving into music, instead.
He began winning awards in 2012. That’s when the second single from his The Monologue titled “Worthy” was played on BBC Radio 1 and began receiving plays all over. In 2013 he headlined his first show in London and then supported Emeli Sande and Chase and Status on a UK Tour.
In 2015, Banks’ second extended play entitled The Paradox was released. It features a guest appearance from Odd Child Recordings rapper Avelino on the track “Monster”. In 2016, Banks was featured on the Norwegian production team Seeb’s release, “What Do You Love”. The song reached number 2 on VG-lista, the official Norwegian singles chart. A year later, Banks premiered his two-part narrative video, written and co-directed by himself, for his single, “Unholy War”. The single came from the EP, ‘The Boy Who Cried Freedom’.
And after that, he was signed to the American label Interscope Records. In November 2018, he released his new album, Village, which made No. 1 on new and upcoming albums on Spotify. “Slow Up” is a beautiful song from that album.
STYLE AND INFLUENCE
Banks’ music is influenced by a range of genres including soul, R&B and hip hop. His music features richly textured beats, with synth play, African inspired grooves, and a soulful disposition. He likes pushing boundaries, not remaining in the same sound for too long. Amy Winehouse is an artist he mentions that is an influence for his style as well.
Jacob takes note of how people string words together and adds that to his own poetry to help create his songs. He also purposely mixes genres that he likes. He feels it’s limiting to think that you have to choose one genre over another. To paraphrase what Jacob explained to FaceCulture –
When you open yourself to more genres, more tempos – you open yourself up to the opportunities to talk about more things.
Because he has new stories, new strings of words and phrases, new influences, and a new mix of genre for each release, his sound is never stale. He prefers to focus on the story he’s telling and whatever genre fits the story is what he’ll use – the style, the tempos, everything.
As it is put on his website – “Banks hopes to re-energize soul music for a new generation hoping to be their solace in hard times and a battery pack on a slow Monday morning.”
No matter what, Jacob wants to always push himself and also keep people company as they maneuver through this life.
COLLABORATIONS & CONNECTIONS
Banks has been featured on recordings with Wretch 32, Chase and Status, and All About She. He has also worked with other artists such as Bondax, Jake Gosling, Knox Brown, and Plan B. He has supported Emeli Sande, Sam Smith, and Alicia Keys on tour in the UK.
As I said before, you may actually recognize some of his work from other sources. “Unholy War” was used in several series, including Redemption, Lucifer, Black Lightning, and Queen of the South. Banks collaborated with the X Ambassadors to create “Baptize Me” which was featured in The Game of Thrones. “Unholy War”, “Move With You”, “Unknown” and “Love Ain’t Enough” have all been featured in major video game releases or trailers.
ORIGINAL SONGS or DISCOGRAPHY
- Village 2018
- The Monologue 2013
- The Paradox 2015
- The Boy Who Cried Freedom 2017
- “Move with You” (FIFA 15 Soundtrack) 2014
- “Love Ain’t Enough” (with Ghetts) 2019
- “Every Age”
- “Like You’ll Never See Me Again” 2020
- “Blame” (with Grace Carter)
- “Devil That I Know”
During 2020, Jacob Banks released several new singles, all with haunting and relevant videos to accompany them, so he hasn’t wasted any time.
Most recently, he released “Parade”.
FIND OUT MORE
Thank you to a wonderful interview posted by FaceCulture from 2018 which helped me find out more about this artist.
If you are searching for more Untapped Sounds then be sure to check out the articles on other Unsigned Artists.