banks wants to start a book club with fiona apple
We caught up with the 'Goddess' herself about performing in a giant mirror box on David Letterman and which ladies she’d like to get literary with.
The last time we spoke to Jillian Banks, she was getting ready to release her first full-length album, Goddess. In that time, her emotionally eloquent lyrics and sharp ear for the internet's most exciting producers (including Shlohmo and Lil Salva) have found a huge audience hungry for more. And while a lot has changed, much - fortunately - has remained consistent. Banks still has her personal phone number on Facebook for her fans to reach out directly, she's still rocking mostly black ensembles, and she's still doing things her own way. Before she took the stage at IRO's new Broome St location last night, we caught up with the Goddess herself about tackling TV performances and why people still make her smile.
The last time you spoke to i-D was just before the release of Goddess. What have you been up to since then?
It's been pretty crazy. I've been touring almost non-stop since the release, just learning so much. Especially these last few months have seen a lot of personal growth for me, especially mentally. I'm having all of these revelations about who I am and feeling empowered doing what I'm doing.
You recently performed on David Letterman inside of a mirror box. It seems as though TV spots can be quite limiting in terms of creative freedom, so I was wondering how you approached that project?
I haven't done much TV, pretty much for that reason. I want to do things when I feel ready for them and when I do something, I just want to make sure it's special and feels "me." I don't want it to seem like I'm molding into someone else's energy fields and someone else's atmosphere. It's nice to be able to go into a different environment and bring your own energy.
I've had that mirrored box idea for a while. It's interesting: sometimes you're just in your own head and you see things a certain way, but someone else can see you completely differently. The mirrored box was weird because you can't see out of it, you can just see yourself from every different angle. There's a million of yous, and you're having all of these thoughts, but other people are viewing it from the outside and it looks completely different than what it looks like to you.
On the subject of other people's perceptions of you: the Goddess remix vinyl was recently released on Record Store Day, but other artists have been tinkering with your tracks for ages. Is it ever strange to hear someone else's take on your work?
It's a tricky thing because remixes can really add something exciting and a new energy to a song but still keep the soul, mood, or meaning of what the song is. It's just kind of a new breath of the song, a new exhale of the song. But as you said, remixes have definitely been a huge part of my career since day one. It's been cool to see so many people remixing and interacting with my work, it feels good.
I know you're an avid reader, so I was wondering if you could form a book club with anyone, who would it be?
It would be with my best friend Lily, my other friend Natalya, Fiona Apple, Eartha Kitt, this wise woman I know named Sharon, Lois Banner—she was one of my professors in college, this incredible feminist woman who taught me. She's awesome, I went to her house for dinner a few times and she had the most incredible stories. She was writing a biography on Marilyn Monroe and had all of these crazy diary entries of her's. I just named a bunch of women, I guess they're on my mind.
You've already modeled for Coach and Chanel. Are there any other designers you'd like to work with, or are just really feeling right now?
I wore Mugler on Letterman and I love everything that he makes. I love Alexander Wang, I love Givenchy. I think they're all empowered, they're all strong, they use a lot of black, and they all have structure but this air of freedom to everything that they do. Mugler is so structured and sexy but it's fierce and fire.
Are people still calling you?
What has the experience taught you?
I've learned that people are good. I used to think I was really naive, but I've also questioned if I'm jaded or I'm just real. Yeah, I've gotten some stupid fucking texts that are rude, but more than 99% are just so sweet and open and just sending love. When I first told people I was doing that, they thought it was the weirdest thing. It's like people are scared of people. People tweet all this awful shit at others, but in private, we're all human. In private, directly, I get the sweetest texts in the world. No one's trying to prove anything, it's just one-on-one. With Twitter and Facebook, you have all these eyes on you and all of a sudden, you're not even yourself. The texts are more intimate, more human, because it's direct human contact without this wall of wanting to be perceived a certain way.
What's up next for you? Are you still on an aggressive tour schedule, or will you be taking things back to the studio?
I'm bursting out melodies in my mind! I've been like waking up in the middle of the night with lyrics and stuff. I'm just exhaling, I just need to write right now. I'll be playing a few upcoming festivals and shows, but I want to create so badly, that's all my mind is on right now. I've been creating the past few weeks and I can't even describe the feeling.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Billy Farrell