MY first piece of the day is a chat...
with Banner., who has been telling me about his upcoming E.P., Years in Shade, and what inspired it. He talks about his musical past and some albums that are important to him; where we can catch him gig and what the music scene is like in the Netherlands at the moment.
Banner. shares his plans for 2019 and recommends a rising act; how he spends time away from music and how he feels his new E.P. differs from his previous work – he gives some useful advice for any musicians coming through right now.
Hi, Banner. How are you? How has your week been?
I'm doing very well, actually. Just added another year of age to my tally while releasing my track Years in Shade which is the title track for my upcoming E.P. and I celebrated both last weekend. Also, having my sis' birthday a day behind mine means I don't have any reason not to have fun.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I was born and raised in The Hague (still live there) and write 'folkish' pop songs. I just turned twenty-three. I taught myself how to play the guitar at the age of twelve and began writing songs when I was eighteen. I'm intrigued by finger-picking and use some alternate tunings. I tend to rely mostly on my guitar for new songs so, in a way, I'm making guitar pieces that more or less stand by themselves.
The E.P., Years in Shade, is out next year. What can you reveal about the songs and ideas that we will hear?
The songs that appear on the E.P happen to be a bit more personal. The tracklist consists of five songs that I put in chronological order of me going through stuff (not to sound dramatic, though, I'm fine.) Most of them have a different presence in the songs in terms of 'how' I play; meaning the tracks have a more 'upright' approach of movability and perhaps have more space for vocals. I'd have to say it would be more 'accessible' yet (could be) easier to listen to. Basically, I could say the songs are built with more of a 'Pop' construction, which enables a certain playfulness on stage while playing with band.
How do you think your latest E.P. differs from your earliest stuff?
The approach to writing the songs definitely differs from the tracks that are on the Over Blue E.P. The first one was me starting out trying to develop a ‘sound’ (if that's what you want to call it) while the second was more about experimenting and finding out if my songs were compatible with different sounds and purposes. I never intentionally started experimenting with these songs. But, also, I sort of did. Meaning that what I was doing while writing the songs was all natural and felt as the right thing to do.
Part of the process was freeing up some space and take a step back in complexity and let my first mind guide me through the tracks that would later become the Years in Shade E.P. I kind of challenged myself to let go and leave more blanks for the band members to fill in and the whole process itself was a very learning experience. An experience that is going to be helpful for my future me as a musician.
Are there particular artists that inspired you to get into music?
The reason I developed a love for music has various reasons, but I can't remember one certain artist that dragged me into the whole songwriting thingy. The thought of music itself was just more appealing to me I think. At first, I only played guitar for a five years and went f'ing around with different genres and also a loop pedal but, after a while, I was sick of not having a product or result which I could identify myself with...until I kind of gradually got into songwriting and it immediately made an impact as I took it more seriously, which was caused because I entered a music competition just two months after writing my first songs and made it to the final. So, that was a very good start and very motivating.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
I recently got back into writing new songs. So, I might have an idea of what would be part of it. Other than that; it's safe to say that I'll play some in Germany and some more back here in the Netherlands but, as a musician, I'm always looking forward to what might happen in the near future and that makes 2019 no exception with my new E.P coming up and getting more and more opportunities to play live in countries other than the Netherlands.
You are a Dutch artist. What is the scene like in the Netherlands at the moment? Is it growing in terms of its music?
It's easy for me to keep track of everyone’s movement because you're actually in not that big of a boat and you have to share it with others. But, whether Dutch music is evolving? I can't really tell. Everything that's happening nowadays in the music industry is very promising, but I don't see that directly flowing through the Dutch music industry. Tons of Dutch artists might be a bit doomed to get big but just in the Netherlands.
I also don't know whether it's a choice or a curse. You could say getting big is easier here in the lowlands because we're a relatively small country with decent resources to play music - but since it's so small you can easily play every venue in the country in a short amount of time which, in my opinion, is a bit scary when you're working on something new but the places you visit are the same every time you go on tour, that must be a bit repetitive. That's why I tend to focus not solely on Dutch grounds (Not to throw shade at Dutch venues or artists though). Either way, there are lots of colleagues here doing a great job and that doesn't have to be kept a secret.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Tons of memories I have from being a musician and they are mostly all great, but one moment that I keep thinking of is playing support for Newton Faulkner and Villagers. Big crowds being super-quiet and respectful; also fun and kind people to talk to afterwards. People describing what they see and what I do in maybe a bit more technical way is a bit dull sometimes, but people explaining what it does to them and their feelings is what really makes a difference for me as a songwriter.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Ben Howard - I Forget Where We Were
For me, this album was an eye-opener because it showed me how versatile a songwriter could be. Not meaning that he is capable of playing every genre, but as in how deep you could dig into your own music and by doing so having a progressive mindset. Don't know if these were his intentions but that's what I learned from it trying to be progressive songwriter. Also, he just doesn't seem to be bothered anymore by the Every Kingdom era, despite the popular demand. He's a songwriter who earned his stripes with nothing other than making music he wants to make. I really dig Noonday Dreams but I have to give I.F.W.W.W. most of the credits in terms of I approach my own music.
Nick Mulvey - Wake Up Now
Such a sweet-sounding and loving record, which is also how I would describe Nick Mulvey as a person based on seeing him a few times live and listening to his interviews. In these interviews, Nick describes the progress of recording/writing as learning and liberating since he would let go of being in control all the time. Something I felt I was doing while making my new record. One of my favourite songs of all time is on this record and it's called In Your Hands which, in my opinion, is astonishing.
Sticky Fingers - Land of Pleasure
Been following these guys for a while now, since they released their album Caress Your Soul, and ever since they just kept delivering such pleasant and fun songs. They're so easy to listen to on so many occasions and I can come up with just few bands that keep delivering the way they do, without sacrificing their identity. Why Land of Pleasure speaks to me the most is because I remember them playing bits of that album for the first time and I absolutely lost my head back then. It was at a tiny venue located on the beach with just the most beautiful sunset and I was graduating from high-school, so you could say life was extremely good. Also wondering what some of them Australians have been drinking because there are some true gems coming from the land down under which I can't clarify just yet.
As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?
I'm pretty content with the stuff that I have. Clothes are always welcome but, other than, that I am satisfied with what I own and I'm hoping that it will stay like this. Just hope people are going to like the record in 2019 and maybe, if I had to make one wish, then I would wish for a job that still enables me to make loads of music.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I think would like to play support for Nick Mulvey, mostly because of what kind of audience he attracts to his concerts. But, other than that, I don't have a strong desire to play support for someone because in music you never know how things are going to be. Being surprised is what kind of makes it exciting.
The rider kind of depends of the tour I would be doing but good care and comfort is actually all I need; maybe a bottle of whiskey which is already on my rider.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
There's loads of cheesy stuff to say to people who are just starting out which are true. I'm actually packed with stuff I want to mention but let's try keeping it easy and understandable. Always remember to have fun, don't expect too much and you'll be pleasantly surprised. Results shouldn't be the reason you make music. Of course there are times where you have to take protection in order to do what you love. But, still I think tons of people forget that it's mostly about the music that you make and if you do that properly the rest eventually will revolve around that. By the way: I'm not talking as if I already made it, but still...
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
There are a few dates in Germany and a co-headline show with Matt Perriment which I really look forward to. Also been busy with another tour which I can't tell you about just yet but it's coming and maybe it's about time that I actually set foot on British grounds for a change.
25th January - Paard, The Hague
26th February – Auster-Club, Berlin
28th March - FZW, Dortmund
5th April - Tivoli, Utrecht (with Matt Perriment)
IN THIS PHOTO: Seoul
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Don't know if I'm cool enough to recommend songs that 'nobody' knows but there's this band from Canada I think who are called Seoul and they make this melancholic, ambient Pop music. For me, a sweet find and definitely worth checking out.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Of course I have to make sure that I don't lose my mind when making a lot of music, so I unwind just by hanging out with friends and get a beer. I have also been dancing for fourteen years now and I still enjoy doing that; keeping body and my soul in shape. Now and then I stroll through my hometown, just to clear my mind.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Nick Mulvey – In Your Hands