Banks: Writing "Crowded Places," Coming Into Her Body


Photo: Jacklyn Krol/Recording Academy


Banks: Writing "Crowded Places," Coming Into Her Body

Singer/songwriter opens up on the song that took off in HBO's "Girls" and how her sophomore album got her moving

GRAMMYs/Sep 5, 2017 - 11:09 pm

Certain albums can move you. For the many music fans who latched onto Banks' moody and candid sophomore album, 2016's The Altar, listening became an emotionally moving experience.

More recently, her new single "Crowded Places" moved TV audiences everywhere when it was discovered and featured by Lena Dunham, creator and star of the hit HBO series "Girls." The song drives an isolated yet self-empowered pulse through a party scene that drifts into Dunham's reverie of a new life in the suburbs in the series' second-to-last episode.

For Banks, the personal experience of writing these moving songs and the extensive touring that followed The Altar have built a staircase to a new floor within herself. What started as a songwriter making a necessary artistic move has grown into making a physical transformation.

"For me, I think of this album not only as something I needed to write just like any other song I've ever released," she says. "But it's where I really found my own body and my own movements."

Her live shows have become more and more mesmerizing and adventurous, shedding some of the mystery that shrouded the singer when she arrived in 2014 with her debut, Goddess. It's easy to see why the Banks names GRAMMY winner Fiona Apple as a constant inspiration for her honesty and clarity of feeling as an artist, traits the singer/songwriter also oozes. Just as The Altar lets listeners deeper inside her mind and heart, her performances these days strive to express the same devotion to her instincts.

"It's been therapeutic. … Through touring this album I've really come into my own body," says Banks. "I'm incorporating a lot more movement onstage than I ever have before. I feel really confident creatively. … I feel like this last chapter has been all about me just trusting my own ideas, and I'm really proud of where the show is and I think because of that I don't get as tired when I tour because it's inspiring me."

This level of physical onstage engagement with her music must no doubt take its toll. With a massive tour ahead of her, taking her show across the United States and Europe, Banks described the almost spiritual way the soul overcomes the body when she allows the songs, and their essence, to take over.

"You just dive into the music. Sometimes touring is really exhausting, so you're in different time zones and [doing] all this craziness to your body and once you get onstage and you feel the energy of the crowd, you're singing your own music," she says. "I write all my own music, so once I'm up on stage and I'm in it, I'm transported to why I wrote those songs, everything kind of disappears."

As hard as it is to disappear night after night and return again and again for the next show, Banks remains motivated, liberated and as creative as ever.

"I'm always writing. I'm excited," Banks says with well-grounded enthusiasm. "I feel free right now. … I'm learning and I feel like I have new things to write about, so definitely going to get back in the studio right when I get home."

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Universal language: Why humans need music


Universal language: Why humans need music

Learn why music is truly a common language that is key to human development and evolution

GRAMMYs/Jul 3, 2017 - 11:51 pm

There's no doubt music finds a way into nearly every moment of our daily lives, whether it's marking milestones such as a first dance at a wedding, the soundtrack to our favorite movie or singing in the shower for fun. In fact, it's hard to imagine times when we are more than an ear-length away from hearing another song.

But why does music mean so much to us? A powerful form of communication that transcends all barriers — music is our common language, but why?

A composer and educator with a lifelong fascination for music, Adam Ockelford has traced our connection with music back to infants and caregivers. Infants are unable to follow words, but they are developmentally primed to trace patterns in sound, such as through the songs a caretaker sings to them. Therefore, understanding music is intuitive for humans, even at a very young age, and it encourages healthy development.

In addition, there may be another evolutionary purpose for music. Music provides a sense of sameness between humans — if you can copy the sounds someone else makes, you must be an ally. This synergy plays a role in human survival because it evokes empathy and understanding, a lesson we still learn from music in today's culture.

"Music is central to the notion of what it is to be human, and spans cultures, continents and centuries," writes Ockelford. "My music, your music, our music can bind us together as families, as tribes and as societies in a way that nothing else can."

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Glenn Danzig

Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images


Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2017 - 05:28 am

There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.

The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.

This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.

"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."

Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

Lady Gaga

Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images


Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program

GRAMMYs/Oct 12, 2017 - 11:03 pm

On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.

Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.

"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."

The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.

"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."

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Mixcloud Signs Warner Music For Subscriptions Remix


Photo: Jason LaVeris/Getty Images


Mixcloud Signs Warner Music For Subscriptions Remix

There is more to the Mixcloud difference than just electronic dance music, and now the listening service has signed its first major label deal

GRAMMYs/Oct 10, 2017 - 04:49 am

Among the 1 million curators who have helped build British-based listening service Mixcloud into a destination visited by 17 million listeners each month are GRAMMY winners Erykah Badu, David Byrne, and Tiësto. Limited to streaming-only since its founding in 2008, Mixcloud announced a direct licensing agreement with Warner Music Group this morning, opening the door to offering downloads and new kinds of subscriptions.

Perhaps the standout statistic that describes the Mixcloud difference is that the average length of its user-uploaded programs is 45 minutes. Within the service's general emphasis on DJing, EDM and remix culture, the tendency to drill down and explore narrower listening topics in depth distinguishes the service from competitors such as Spotify or SoundCloud.

Warner Music Group Executive VP for Business Development & Chief Digital Officer Ole Obermann said, "Mixcloud's success is driven by the curiosity and passion of its community, as they engage with new music and rediscover timeless older songs."

Being able to listen to downloads offline seems a natural follow-up to direct licensing deals, but the service hints there's more in store. Mixcloud still hopes to sign indies and the other majors, as its fans have speculated. And with its own proprietary Content ID in place and established relationships with royalty collecting societies, the company has the tech infrastructure to explore new monetization strategies, paying artists and curators in new ways. Launching a new business model for its upcoming approach to paid content and subscriptions is a remix many are anticipating. Not knowing what to expect is part of the excitement.

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