Banks: The indie artist you need to know

Banks performing on the Apollo Stage on July 3, 2014 Roskilde Festival 2014.  (Bill Ebbesen/Wikipedia Commons)

Musician Banks has traveled up the ladder of success in the music industry quite quickly in the past few years. With her recent release of her sophomore album, “The Altar,” Banks has brought her deep bass and melodic tone back to the table in a operatic drama that tracks a romantic relationship more dysfunctional than healthy.

Born Jillian Rose Banks, the indie singer dropped the first half of her name to claim the pseudonym Banks. She joined the music scene in February of 2013 after her friend, actress Lily Collins, passed her debut single, “Before I Ever Met You,” around the industry until it was picked up and played on the British radio station BBC Radio 1.

In March, Banks released her debut EP, “Fall Over,” which was met with ample commercial success. It wasn’t until over a year later, the summer of 2014, that the public saw the release of Bank’s single “Beggin for Thread” and began to know the name of the indie singer.

“Beggin for Thread” charted internationally, in Australia and Germany, before entering Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart and going as far as to peak at No. 11 during December of that same year.

Since then, Banks could not sink; her debut album, “Goddess,” was met with critical acclaim, charting in the top 20 in many countries and debuting at the impressive spot of 12 in the United States. Her songs “Waiting Game” and “You Should Know Where I’m Coming From,” were featured in the popular movie adaptation of “Divergent” and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” respectively.

Then, just as quickly as she had broken into the industry, Banks disappeared for almost the entirety of 2015, busying herself with work on her second album and touring with fellow musician The Weeknd. In November of 2015, over a year after the release of “Goddess,” the world saw a flicker of hope in “Better,” Banks’ new single, a more fitting name nonexistent.

Banks had stormed back into the industry, showing that her dark, rhapsodic voice will not die out. No more music was released until months later, in July of 2016, when Banks announced the conclusion of her work on her sophomore album. “The Altar” was released two months after her announcement, in September.

The album features 12 songs and takes on an even darker sound than its predecessor. Filled with heavy bass tones, rough synth and acoustic riffs, the album is a conglomeration of haunted love ballads, topped off with the melodic voice of Banks to explore the raw emotion behind a relationship that causes more pain than pleasure.  

Torn between loving a problematic significant other and loving yourself, Banks paints with her words an internal struggle we have all felt at least once. Over light piano and loud bass she begs the question: “Is it worth it?”

Banks has certainly found a unique voice and style. Her sound transcends genres and finds itself to be revered in indie, alternative, pop, electronic and even R&B music. She has come a long way in a short three years, but her journey is far from over. Banks continues to travel and perform; with her upcoming tour in Europe, she has plenty of time to plan for the future. And with almost four million monthly listeners on Spotify, she is finding her way into fame—it’s all we can do to wait for Banks’ next masterpiece.

Ryan Amato is a weekly columnist to The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at