Published Jun 24, 2014Jillian Banks is a quick learner. The Los Angeles-based artist, better known as Banks, has been polishing her songwriting skills since the age of 15 when she taught herself to play the piano, but only had approximately one month to jump from small club venues to performing in front of thousands of people.
"I was just thrown into the deep end — my learning curve was just so steep," she tells Exclaim! as the release of her first full-length Goddess quickly approaches.
Shortly after making her debut with a gig at the 200-person capacity Notting Hill Arts Club in London, UK, the singer was tapped to open for Canadian R&B star, the Weeknd. It was a dream tour for Banks.
"When I first started working with my manager, he was like, 'Who do you want to go on tour with?' and I said the Weeknd would be ideal," she reveals. "Then months later, he was like, 'Guess what?' It was so amazing and Abel and the whole xo family have been so supportive."
It's indeed quite the pairing, and proven most evidently on Banks' popular cover of the Weeknd's song "What You Need" — a shared spectral aesthetic grounded in an R&B macabre. Songs like "Waiting Game" and "Brain" have similarly gained her recognition for her minimalistic approach to beats while showcasing her commanding vocals, a standout that easily explains how she's earned respect from the likes of the Weeknd's Abel Tesfaye and even Ellie Goulding.
Banks recalls her trek with Tesfaye as "a good intro to touring," but admits that she still deals with nerves today. "I think it's good to be a little nervous," she argues. "If you're not nervous, then it's not as exciting."
With a lengthy list of shows under her belt now, Banks has her sights set on another first: her debut album, Goddess, is due September 9 via Harvest Records.
"The hardest part of that process was the cutting down the tracklist," she sighs. "There are still songs that break my heart when I realize they're not on the album, but they'll all have their time. I'm so happy with the songs that are on it. They all work with each other, like they can all kiss each other."
As previously reported, Banks will be heading out on "The Goddess Tour" this fall, and you can see all the dates here.