Jacob Banks’ Music Will Keep You Company

Jacob Banks chanced into his formal pursuit of music. “Luckily, I didn’t have anything else to do at that time,” the UK-based singer tells me of his entry point. Downtime in university and the general malaise of higher learning drove him to noodle around on a red guitar picked up while grocery shopping and find his voice as he recreated his favorite songs from childhood. “I wasn’t having a great time at university, so guitar was a massive help, having something to look forward to.

The Nigeria-born artist moved to the UK in his early teens. He studied in Coventry and played his way through a swath of local venues following uni. Banks’ debut Village arrived in 2018, preceded by a series of songs he didn’t necessarily love. “In my earlier days there were songs that came out that I didn’t really want to come out,” he shares with Audiomack World. “As much as I didn’t like those songs, they were loved by other people. I always thought to myself, if people can love the things I don’t love… There has to be people who love the things I love. That alleviated a lot of pressure for me. So, I stepped back and trusted that my people would come.

Banks’ trust lent itself to a process focused on “remembering a song rather than creating it,” allowing the sounds he hears to pull out of him a song that has always existed. This natural humility, being a vessel for the work, makes his music a flowing conversation between artist and listener.

“I like my music to keep people company,” he explains. Learning from poetry, Banks’ music is there for you while you’re cleaning, reading, and processing life on your terms. He naturally gravitates toward artists who make music that feels like an equal exchange between listener and artist. With his latest album, Lies About The War, out now, Banks hopes to provide the same communal space for fans.

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“This album was made with a lot less noise than I was used to—mentally, physically,” Banks says. “I didn’t travel as much. This was all made in my spare room when I wasn’t playing Call of Duty. It was less voices, less cooks. I was in a warm place and I wanted to offer up that warmth. But I also wanted to be fair. That’s why it’s called Lies About the War because we’re having a good time, but it wasn’t always like this. I’m still at war, still trying to get better, still trying to understand myself and be a better person.”

As I’ve been revisiting the catalog, I’m wondering if you’re a story-first or sound-first artist?

Definitely sound-first. Technically, I title songs before. If I like a phrase, I’ll write it down in my phone. When I hear a sound, it reminds me of a title I’d written before, and then I’ll be able to tell a story.

I would describe my process more as remembering a song rather than creating it. When I hear the sound, the song’s there. I just need to not get in the way. My job is just, “Don’t fuck it up.”

Would you describe that process as spiritual?

From my point of view, I’m just doing what I think everybody else is doing. It just feels more like remembering.

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