It’s been three years since BANKS surfaced in the music zeitgeist. After the release of her EP London she told fans to “be unapologetically you”. It’s stellar advice but also a sentiment the enigmatic singer fervently applies to herself too.

BANKS’ second album The Altar was released in October and, featuring songs like Mind Games and Gemini Feed, it’s an expulsion of insecurity and a submersion into our dualities and contradictions. Never one to swim in the emotional shallow end, BANKS prefers to go as deep as humanly possible, she does so with obsidian R&B beats and an inimitable vocal range, which on this album, has been pushed and challenged further than we’ve ever heard from her.

Hey BANKS, what visuals came to you whilst writing The Altar?

It’s funny, when I write music I don’t consciously think about the videos that go along with it. The imagery comes from a whole world that lives inside my mind. It comes out naturally when I make videos. I’ll be looking for atmospheres that support my songs: textures, moods, colours….it’s from a creative warp I live in, inside my head.

So what does that look like?

There’s always some sort of element of great strength and sensuality I guess. Because my music is so human and I think humans are, at our core, sensual. We like to be touched, we like to be understood. Duality has been a major theme in every song, there’s always two sides to something, whether that’s within a relationship, darkness and light, destruction and creation, young and old, being wise, being dumb…

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Can you describe the feeling of releasing an album into the world? Is there anything you can equate it to?

Hmm, there’s not really a word that has been made to describe the feeling. I would have to write a song about it [laughs]. There’s a lot of different things it feels like and one word or one sentence wouldn’t do it. To describe the feeling I would have to record a song with a lot of screaming in it and a lot of terror…but also excitement and chants of a meditative hum and some sort of spicy top line melody with badass lyrics.

As well as creative, your music is very introspective which must mean that your creative process includes a lot of self-reflection and analysing. How do you take a break from that?

It doesn’t need to be so serious all the time. Like, I am not so serious all the time. Maybe it seems like I am sometimes from my music, but I’m really not. I’m actually very playful and goofy. I try to step away from it just by like getting away from the music business in general, trying to live a normal life outside of it, as it’s not normal at all.

How was your tour, where was your favourite place?

I loved Montreux in Switzerland. I played the Montreux jazz festival. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It really looked like a Disney movie. There’s a lake, there’s flowers, street performers…a castle. There was this game you could play, if you kick a soccer ball through this little hole, you could win a stuffed animal. Anyway, no-one thought I would be able to but I did it. I have it on video!

Photography Jack Buster.