Jacob Banks shares his
personal highlights of 2018

Jacob Banks's attributes his success not just to himself, but also to the team around him. There’s no mention of my achievements - only ours.

“It’s just nice to have made it through the year” – Jacob says playfully – “I just feel grateful, man. And I keep saying this a lot: I just feel like everything I’d hoped would happen has happened. [I’ve] had to learn and unlearn so much about myself and it’s allowed me to grow as a person. I think that process was a massive highlight for me; just getting to work at that… I just feel fortunate that I don’t have to play the game, you know? I feel a lot of people feel the need to play the game, to attain their success”.

2018 has seen the release of his debut album, Village, and the start of his second worldwide tour. “Getting to put an album out was pretty special to me” he says. “but we’re playing the fucking Roundhouse,  off an album that we only dropped a month ago”.  No talk of I did this – only we. It’s clear that Jacob views his team as a kind of family, a close-knit community of people without which he would not have achieved his success. It’s an interesting concept, and one Jacob references frequently in throwaway comments – “I just work with my best friends and we make things happen”. It’s interesting to see – an artist so frequently referencing the love and support from those around them. “We’ve survived on love alone. We’re still here. I’m just really proud of everyone involved, of how we’ve been able to get through without having to compromise too much. I’m really grateful for that.”

We move to the topic of Jacob’s recent music video, Be Good To Me, which he also wrote & directed. The video – in which two men are locked in a tug-of-war – has amassed nearly 2 million views. I ask him if the video was a process he saw as necessary to fulfil the artistic vision of the song. “I really identify more as being a creative; a storyteller. I think it broadens my mind.” He pauses a moment, deep in thought. “…It broadens my mind, in the sense that while I’m writing a song I’m thinking of colour palettes, of visuals; I can see everything as if it’s another page of the story. The song is the first page – you have to flip it. Every song’s a book and all the pages need to be filled with whatever that song needs.” I ask if he sees every song in this way. “Not every song needs a video – only some. While I’m writing a song, that’s when I see it”. There’s no pretence in these words – far from it – and I genuinely feel Jacob speaks candidly about his processes. He has a passion & dedication to his craft that extends beyond the aural.

Naturally, then, his performance of a song must be seen as an extension of its meaning. We begin to discuss which songs he enjoys performing the most; the ones he loses himself in, the ones which require the most of him. It’s a difficult question, and one he takes his time over. The song that takes the most out of him? It’s Slow Up, a heavy, emotive number, which erupts with a drum beat in the last third. “It always leaves me undone. Every night. And I have to piece myself together just to unravel myself again the next show”. I ask him why this is. “Because performing is essentially when you’re healing people and breaking yourself at the same time”.

Luckily for Jacob, it’s not all as emotionally taxing – there are lighter numbers, too. Mexico is his favourite to perform, as it allows him to “just vibe”. Again, I ask him, why is that. “It doesn’t require an emotional performance” he says. “I can just be a human being”. It’s an interesting split between the numbers that drain him and numbers that require less emotion. Is there enjoyment in both? “[Enjoy] is a difficult word” he states. “I enjoy performing Mexico. But I also really enjoy playing Slow Up because of that release of passion. But emotionally, it’s expensive.”

As our time draws to an end, we begin our goodbyes. We chat about his upcoming American tour – an enormous 30 date, 2 month affair – and I ask him, is there a difference between the European crowds and the American ones? “They’re not as drunk as we are” he says with a grin. “They stay more sober, for the most part at least. But it’s all love man. Love is love, you know? Whether it’s Dublin or San Fran, it’s the same thing; it’s just love. We’re all here because we love music and we want to enjoy this memory and be nice to each other”.

Words by William Thompson / Photography by William Henry Thompson

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