Exclusive Interview: PAUSE Meets Jacob Banks

Jacob Banks gives us an insight into his life, music and future plans. Banks is a young artist from Birmingham who has grown and showcased increasing talent in the last two years. From winning the MOBO UnSung Regional competition to being the first unsigned artist to perform on Radio 1 Live Lounge. He finished off 2013 on a high with two major collaborations under his belt and an ever-growing fan base.

Fedora Hat: Village Hats
Shirt: Topman

Shirt -Topman
Jumper – Samsoe & Samsoe
Sweat Pants – Rabbit Hole
High Top Sneakers- Rabbit Hole
Fedora Hat -Village Hats
Chain – Stylists own

Since you won the MOBO in 2012, what are the highlights of your journey so far?
Alicia Keys said I was tall, dark and handsome… That’s the highlight of my life!

How has your life changed from the transition of being an unsigned artist to a signed artist?
The best thing about this is that it’s interesting knowing there are people somewhere who are taking your dreams on board.  The fact that someone believes in what you do and wants to help you reach the full potential. That’s the best part about it.

The Monologue’ gave people an insight to Jacob Banks as an artist – what is the story and message behind that EP?
The monologue was just me moaning about stuff that has happened, witnessed, and have been a part of. It was made by people who understand on a personal level. When it was made I was finding a sound, it was very experimental at the time and gave me an identity of who Jacob Banks is and what I wanted it to sound like. It was a journey for me to understand what I wanted to represent as an artist.

JacobBanksNadiaRyder-3  JacobBanksNadiaRyder-100p
JacobBanksNadiaRyder-69  JacobBanksNadiaRyder-10

Last year you did two major collaborations with Wretch 32 and Chase & Status, do you plan on releasing more collaborations or solo material?
I’m going to go ahead with solo stuff, but there will be more collaborations, I love working with other people. When I’m performing alone its very different, it’s like ‘simmer down, I want to take you on a journey’. When I perform with Chase & Status it’s just turnt up, the vibe is completely different and the fans show a different type of love. They show love by throwing beer on you! I just get to be a different side of myself. When I perform with Wretch 32, it’s like, finally! We just go out there and azonto for the whole song. What I love about collaborations is that you learn about how to be a better artist and have different experiences. I’m going to Australia for a month with Chase & Status, just off the back off one song.

I want to collaborate with Shabba Ranks, to do something odd, fresh and different. Of course the people around me too like Jessie J, Emelie Sande, something out of my comfort zone.

You have a close relationship with Wretch 32, how did that come about and what are your best moments with him?
Wretch 32 probably can’t remember our best moment as he was most likely wasted! Before I started out there was a guy called Ross who helped me source managers and stuff. He said just send me your music and I will send it out to a couple of managers, if they like it, I will get back to you. He also said who do you want, I said whoever manages Wretch, send them my music because I loved and still love Wretch as a teenager growing up. He was my biggest inspiration as an artist so I wanted him to hear my stuff, I wanted to see what he had to say about it. And then, it turns out that Zion who manages Wretch loved what he heard and Wretch made sure he took me on board. No one writes like Wretch so I wanted to learn how he does it, how he comes up with his ideas and techniques. As the back of that, I just go to know him on a personal level and he’s a big brother to me.
JacobBanksNadiaRyder-27 PAUSE has noticed that you always incorporate a hat as your signature piece, what would you say about your hat collection?
My hat collection is dope. Looking back, I’ve always worn them. Someone said they work I saw a video of me dancing when I was 16 and I had one on. Back then it wasn’t cool. I’ve always had it on; I just put it on one day and never took it off. You want something to stand out so it shows “that’s Jacob Banks – the tall guy who sings.” Even if you don’t remember the name; you want something to stand out.

How does your personal style reflect you as a musician?
My personal style reflects everything I do. I want a bit of old school mixed with new school – so a hat with a long trench jacket, shirt, jeans, and a pair of New Balance kicks is my style. Then something new – watch, chain, or rings. the whole style is a bit of old school and new school which the music is also. The voice is old school but the music and stuff is very much young and now or if the music is old the lyrics are young I want to try merge both generations both the new school and the old school culture.


‘My personal style works with everything I do, new school mixed with a bit of old school’


Best piece of advice if someone wants to follow in your footsteps?
Surround yourself with great people and always keep it sharp. It’s weird and I never thought about it at the time but being around people who work hard every day gives you no excuse. It makes you work harder, it makes you be better.  Make sure you can learn, don’t always be the best.

How will your journey continue in 2014?
I’m just going to have fun. One of my biggest goals in life even outside music is to protect my happiness. Things make me happy and music is one so I have to find a way to protect it and always be the best version of myself and just keep doing this. I’m just going to have fun and try to dream wide awake.
JacobBanksNadiaRyder-35p‘I’m just going to have fun and try to dream wide awake’


Give us a hashtag to sum up your day with PAUSE?

See the behind-the-scenes video with Jacob Banks here:

Interview: Mutay Samede
Photographer: Nadia Ryder
Stylist: Olivia Akot
Assistant Stylist: Peter Jones