After picking up the guitar just over a year ago, the Birmingham musician has become the hottest name in UK R&B.
His plaintive songwriting and understated vocal is really quite extraordinary. As part of 'Renowned' with Wretch and George The Poet, we think Mr Banks has a brilliant career in front of him.
We had a chat with him recently. Here's what he had to say.
Why did you only pick up the guitar a year ago?
Well, I do music because it makes me happy, not because I like to sing. I love singing, but I love being happy more. Music makes me happy now. If writing a book makes me happy, I’ll do that. I’ve been searching for happiness for a long time, so I’m living my dream every day knowing I’m happy. Being able to go studio or do a show means a whole lot to me.
In what way?
Cos I’ve always being doing what was expected of me, as opposed to doing what I thought was good for me. So it took me 20 years to do it. I started doing music a year ago and it’s been amazing. It all happened quick. This time last year I was deciding to take music seriously and now I’m here, so it’s a drastic change for me. It’s almost been word of mouth: ‘Oh you should check Jacob out’, and then emails from managers came in. I chose a manager and it all happened.
Who are you main influences?
Westlife (laughs). No one ever agrees with me, but I don't care. Tonight, Queen Of My Heart. Unbreakable, Coast To Coast... The first time I ever heard music was the Westlife album. (laughs). So, Weestlife, John Mayer, Justin Nozuka, Anita Baker, Al Green, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra, Pharcyde, Rev Run, KRS-1, Fela Kuti. When you hear my music, you can tell there’s all sorts of different genres and input into my music.
Fine. I don’t think I’m like everybody. I know everybody says that, but my EP is out now so you can judge for yourself. I think what I’ve done is I’ve taken what soul music is supposed to be, but I can sing it over a dubstep beat. I’m making soul music relevant to now. Being compared to Michael Kinuwaku, I can understand that, I can see that, but I think I’m different in the sense that it’s old-skool but I’m new-skool. I’m finding new ways to tell old stories.
What are your hopes for this year?
Musically, I want to the person that pops straight into your mind if someone says ’What’s soul music like in the UK?’ I want to show people that it can be done. In life, I want to remain happy. Being happy is cool. Being able to keep it and not allowing people to take it away is key. I want to protect my happiness.
What's the toughest part of your job?
Taking pictures. I hate pictures so much. I have to come to terms with the way people’s perceptions of me change. I’m still me but people that listen to my music see me as some guy that they look up to. It’s weird. I’m only 10% of where I want to be. It’s weird. I have a lot to live up to. I can’t let them down, these people. It’s been funny and a blessing.Listen to Jacob