It’s almost time for the Jacob Banks phone interview to begin, so I enter my bedroom and shut the door to make sure there are no interruptions once the phone is answered. I gaze over at my clock to see both hands on 12. Midday has arrived and my pen sits readily in my palm waiting to scribble notes, just incase my Dictaphone doesn’t pick up all the answers…
10 minutes later I’m playing Siege Hero on my Iphone still waiting for the call, wondering whether I have enough time to go and grab a drink. Just as I’m about to walk into the kitchen my phone rings, so I sprint back to my bedroom pick up my pen, press record and then I answer my phone, “Hello is this Jacob?”
So let’s start by talking about your performance at Wired last week. You had some friends shouting some fun stuff out at you during your time on stage. Do you tend to always bring people down with you?
Oh yeah that was my management team. Yeah there were a lot of people that came down, but I had no idea they were coming. When people know about it they just turn up. I never ask people to come to a show, because you know as an artist we are one of the most sensitive people in the world. If you ask someone to come to your show and they don’t come, you tell them it’s ok but deep down you hate them for life.
Your performance was very mellow, but dominating in a way that kept everyone’s attention on you. Have you always been able to do that while being on stage?
I never really try to hard. When I perform my eyes are always closed, I don’t really look at anyone. I just do what I love.
Your rendition of Marvin Gay’s ‘Let’s get it on, mixed in with Floetry’s ‘Say Yes’ is absolutely mind blowing. What made you combine those two songs together?
I was in my bedroom and I was practicing and it just felt right. I love to put my own spin on songs, and Wired was actually the first time I performed it.
What did you study at university?
How has that benefitted you in music?
Hahaha nothing… but it made mummy happy that’s good enough for me.
During your time at university were you doing music?
No.. I didn’t really start properly until I finished University.
What is it about Soul music that speaks to you?
I didn’t really have a choice, because my voice doesn’t allow me to do anything else. But then again growing up I listened to people like Aretha Franklin, Frank Sintra, people with big voices so it’s always been love; I’ve always loved soul music.
Were you always singing before you decided to get a guitar?
I used to be in the choir, and I played drums at church. Everybody sings, everybody sings in the shower, and I used to sing for people all the time. Then eventually I just knew I couldn’t shake it off anymore more, I just had to keep going.
What made you pick up the guitar?
I went into a shop, I bought one but I never played it so I gave it back because I couldn’t afford it. Then I needed a guitarist for a song but he never turned up, so I just bought one and went to the show. I hate depending on people, because people will let you down, and I can do my own song.
I heard you are apart of a collective called ‘The Rookies’ with some musician friends in Birmingham. How did that come about?
We have all been working together for a while but there was no name, there was no team. So eventually we just decided to put a name on it, making it official. They are people that I grew up, one of them is Abbas a singer songwriter, then there is Jade whose a singer songwriter, Knox Brown who is the best producer I have ever worked with, and then there is me. We all have different musical backgrounds so it’s fun. I love working in a team, working on your own is cool. There is no worrying about pressure, because in the end it’s all about the journey.
You’ve had the pleasure of working and meeting with big artists such as Wretch 32. Have they been giving you any advice about the music industry?
Wretch is like my big brother. For me to work with Wretch is such dream come true. Before I met Wretch I was …and I’m still a die-hard fan, like I have his liberty tattooed on my chest. He taught me to have fun, and just to have someone talk to you, and believe in what you do that’s enough.
Do you believe that playing acoustically generates a more intimate performance, than the use of digital or pre recorded sounds?
Yeah definitely. When you perform acoustically you can’t pretend you can’t hide behind anything. You are opening yourself up to be judged, but if I were to use digital effects I could hide my flaws. But acoustically I have to open myself to every little mistake, giving the crowd the opportunity to judge me. So yeah playing acoustically is definitely more intimate.
Are you currently signed?
No, but there are offers on the table so we are deciding.
Do you have an EP or album you are currently working on?
Yeah I have an EP called ‘The Monologue’ that will be coming out in December.
How does it feel to only be 21 years old, and to already have had your song ‘Kids on the corner’ played on the radio?
Yeah it feels odd. The first time I heard it on the Radio, and then I played it back on BBC catch up… but it’s always weird. It’s just for me it’s just amazing like if anyone told me a year ago I’d be on the radio, I would probably punch them… Haha. It’s amazing because the people on the Radio didn’t have to help me out, they choose to do that, and half of these people haven’t even met me in person. It’s amazing how people can be so nice.
You are quite tall if I remember correctly?
Yeah I’m 6’4.
As a tall guy do you find it hard to find a girl who matches your height?
Hahahaha No.. Actually I met a girl the other day that was taller than me, and I felt so insecure. I couldn’t look her in the eye or anything; I need someone who is smaller. I wouldn’t want a girl who is taller than me or even close, so that I can feel dominant and manly… Hahaha
How do you manage to keep such an authentically classic and soulful feel to your music, without ever treading on the mainstream sound, but still managing to make the old popular again?
Yeah that’s always been the goal, the goal has always been to make soul sound new school. There is a lot more to come, like ‘Kids on the corner’ is not the peak. Let me tell you something else, ‘Kids on the corner’ is one of my most successful songs by far. But I think that’s what makes it more exciting, because I know what’s going to come next and you guys don’t. Taking old school and new school then finding a medium is fun, but most importantly I want to stay current.
Jacob Banks is an old soul, and his love for old school music seems to only benefit him that much more, because he is the only one doing what he is doing. 21 is a young age so I look forward to seeing him grow as an artist, creating his own niche within the music industry.