Images by: Tiana Smith
“Little stars they seem so far, They sparkle in the midnight blue. I always wondered if i saw them close up What they’d smell like too. Maybe they’d smell like fallen leaves. or maybe snowflakes in the breeze. I traveled through the 7 seas to see if They smell like you do. Because my love you are my star, you smell exactly how i think a star Should smell, so from afar, I’ll just assume they smell like you.”
-Banks opening poem, Wayhome 2017
“Two minutes!” said a girl just a couple centimetres away from us as she turned around in excitement to her friend who wasn’t as fortunate to get a clear view of the freckle-faced goddess that was about to grace our presence, Banks.
Did the stage exist before her performance? Jillian Banks, or as she’s known to the world as just Banks, performed last Sunday at Wayhome Music and Arts Festival, spreading moody vibes and angst throughout the crowd of hundreds who were there to see her at the main festival’s stage. In a veil, and a t-shirt that said “Seven Heavens” on the front and “Seven Hells” on the back, Banks owned her space in the most powerful way an artist can. She was present and raw, spreading her contagious confidence into the crowd. We stood beside each other, waiting.
Her set started off with the throaty vocals of Poltergeist, and the crowd was already engulfed in her performance.
Between the two of us, Heather is a girl who normally refuses to leave her shell for anybody. In most situations she avoids drawing attention to herself but as the set formed, she developed an unseen energy. She became powerful in front of Banks. She was a force to be reckoned with, and she wasn’t alone.
“She’s my favourite human.”
In front of us two friends explained how blown away they were by Banks’ unique style. Tayler Gardner (a fan of two years) and Amy Swain (a fan of one year) happily moved out of the way so that the girl behind them could see better. That girl is Nakisha Slavin, also a fan of two years. “She’s my favourite human!” exclaimed Nakisha. “Mine two!” shouted Tayler, instantly becoming friends. Nakisha’s love for Banks took on a new level this past year when she was able to use Banks’s second album, The Altar, to help her through a painful breakup. “If you listen to the lyrics of her album, it’s about a man that treats her like shit [...] she couldn’t marry him and being able to relate to that made me feel so empowered.” Slavin is referencing Banks song, “Gemini Feed”, and the line “To think you would get me to the altar,” alike her recent album’s title. In the song Banks deconstructs the idea of taking yourself out of a toxic relationship that isn’t going to be beneficial in the long term.
“I fucking love her.”
“Half her music is like fuck you to men and half of it is empowering to women”, said Nakisha mirroring a comment made only moments before by two girls on her right. Zahar Karimi and Fariba Abedi are fans of one year and their favourite aspect of Banks music is the themes related to real life and relationships. “Talking shit about men and how fucked up they can be.” It’s clear that these fans who were pressed up against the metal reigns that protected them from the entity that is Banks were affected by her words and could really resonate with the things that she was saying. “I fucking love her,” said Abedi.
As an artist, Banks shows us a vulnerability that no other artists does. Her music validates her not only her feelings, but her fans’, and reassures us that it’s okay to feel the way we do. She allows anyone listening to understand how she was feeling in the most raw way possible. Her lyrics translated so emotionally on the stage followed by the sharp movements from a duo of backup dancers whom of which Banks joined quite frequently. For the two of us, Banks music is more than just a sound. It’s a tool for surviving the struggles of relationships. As young women, it helps us with the mixed emotions we've felt through all of our past loves and breakups.
Of course, what she taught us specifically is something that we took a long time to realize; that we truly do “fuck with ourselves". Probably more than we’d like to admit.
Overtime, an aspect of Banks music that we brought into ourselves was the concept of self-worth. If a guy screwed Banks over, she sung about it, and it didn’t sound like it was her fault that things went sour. When listening to music, it’s about finding an artist that can really express the intensity of the emotions people face on a day-to-day basis. To find something that’s not an escape, but something that can make someone feel better and understand their reality.
When Banks sophomore album The Altar came out in late 2016, it instantly became an album on repeat. Listening to her moody vocals on heartbreak and the process of self-love was when we realized that it was ok to let yourself feel such intense emotions because it means that we’re human. It’s about a balance of love and pain. It’s about feeling like you are a forced to be reckoned with, and an empowered soul, just based on the words coming out of her mouth.
Banks taught us that loving all the aspects of oneself, even the ones that you are trying suppress are important, because we will never evolve if we don’t.
Since her start in early 2014, Banks has built what we would like to call a complex featuring all kinds of fans that can relate to one another so closely, and share similar experiences that can in turn help each other out, even though from the outside it may not seem like it.