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Jillian Rose Banks (born June 15, 1988), known simply as Banks (often stylized as BANKS), is an American singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, California. She releases music under Harvest Records, Good Years Recordings and IAMSOUND Records imprints of the major label Universal Music Group.
She has toured internationally with The Weeknd and was also nominated for the Sound of 2014 award by the BBC and an MTV Brand New Nominee in 2014. On May 3, 2014, Banks was dubbed as an "Artist to Watch" by FoxWeekly.
Jillian Rose Banks was born in Orange County, California. Banks started writing songs at the age of 15. She is of English descent and taught herself piano when she received a keyboard from a friend to help her through her parents' divorce. She says she "felt very alone and helpless. I didn't know how to express what I was feeling or who to talk to." Banks attended the University of Southern California and is a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.
2013–present: Breakthrough and Goddess
Banks used the audio distribution website SoundCloud to put out her music before securing a record deal. Her friend Lily Collins used her contacts to pass along her music to people in the industry and she began working with the label Good Years Recordings. Her first official single, called "Before I Ever Met You" was released in February 2013. The song which had been on a private SoundCloud page ended up being played by BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe. Banks released her first EP Fall Over by IAMSOUND Records and Good Years Recordings. Billboard called her a "magnetic writer with songs to obsess over." Banks released her second EP called London by Harvest Records and Good Years Recordings in 2013 to positive reviews from music critics, receiving a 78 from Metacritic. Her song "Waiting Game" from the EP was featured in the 2013 Victoria's Secret holiday commercial.
In late 2013, she received nominations for awards from both the BBC and MTV. She was nominated for a Sound of... award by the BBC and a Brand New Nominee by MTV. Shazam included her on its list of "2014 Acts to Watch" and she was named to the iTunes list of "New Artists for 2014". Banks was artist of the week for Vogue in August 2013 where they wrote that her songs "perfectly capture a feeling of being lost and powerless in the world." Banks has been tipped by more than a dozen media outlets as the artist to watch in 2014, including Spin calling London the "Album You Gotta Hear in 2014" and being named as one of Spotify's Artists Under the Spotify Spotlight for 2014. Additional accolades came from The Boston Globe, Fuse, and The Huffington Post.
Banks was the opening act for The Weeknd during his fall 2013 tour. The tour was international with dates in the United States and the United Kingdom. After finishing the tour with The Weeknd, she announced her own tour which begun in the United Kingdom during March 2014. Banks was also a featured performer at the Coachella festival, taking place in April 2014, Bonnaroo and Open'er Festival in July 2014.
Her debut album, Goddess was released on September 5, 2014 and charted within the top 20 of several countries, including the UK, Australia, Germany, New Zealand and Sweden. In the US, the album debuted at number 12, selling 25,000 copies in its first week of release. It received positive reviews from critics, who praised her sonic ambition and the album's raw sound. It currently holds a score of 74/100 on Metacritic. Thus far, the album has been supported by the release of four singles: Brain, Goddess, Drowning and Begging For Thread. Drowning peaked at number 48 in Billboard's rock digital songs chart, whilst Begging for Thread peaked at number 22 on the US Alternative chart, and at number 80 and 64 in Australia and Germany (respectively). The tracks "Waiting Game" and "You Should Know Where I'm Coming From" were featured in the October 9th, 2014 episode of Grey's Anatomy. "You Should Know Where I'm Coming From" was also featured on the ninth episode of Red Band Society.
Banks' reluctance to use social media is often noted by journalists. Although she has stated she lets her "management run that stuff", the singer did give out her real telephone number on her Facebook fanpage. One month after London was released, Ellie Goulding said in an interview with Radio.com that she often listens to Banks. She is featured in the BBC's Sound of 2014 long list.
Banks' sound has been described as dark R&B and compared to The Weeknd and Aaliyah, although she cites Lauryn Hill and Fiona Apple as her biggest influences. She says that music helps her release her emotions and for that reason kept her music private while she earned her bachelor's degree in psychology. Her vocals have frequently been described as "Aaliyah-like", in addition to Billboard noting that "her rhapsodic voice possesses a frail vulnerability and recalls singers like Feist and Erykah Badu."