The first time I heard Banke, it was through a video on Instagram where she had been singing her cover of Davido’s Fall and Tiwa Savage’s All Over. Maybe it was the calmness with which she sang those songs; maybe it was the soul that she had put into singing them; maybe it was her voice – it sounded like silk; or maybe it was the sound of the piano she was playing, I honestly can’t tell, but I remember staying on that video, thinking it was one of the most beautiful things I’d watched on the internet in a long time.
Of course, I went to her Instagram page and watching more videos of her, 4 things struck me. First, it was Banke’s voice. Oh-my-God, Banke can sing! Honestly, I don’t know how to describe her voice but the effect that it has on me, every single time is ‘wow’. Banke’s voice is the kind that carries strength, carries power and carries depth in a clear, soothing, beautiful way. I remember watching her rendition of the UEFA Champions League anthem and showing that video to everyone on my desk at work just so we could all be blown away together. It’s that good. I think her voice is a gift that she has so graciously shared with the world, and I would really love to watch her perform live one day.
The next thing that struck me was how beautiful Banke is, and yes, I’m talking about how she looks physically. She is so beautiful and you guys will see that as you read on. The third thing was how somehow, Banke seemed to make everyone around her laugh and watching those videos, I thought it showed how beautiful she must be on the inside as well. Finally, the last thing that struck me was the fact that almost everybody I knew while studying in Ife, knew Banke, which of course made me wonder how in the world I missed her throughout my four years in Uni!
Anyway, I’ve followed Banke since then and I’ve found her work really inspiring. She’s one of those people whose lives have taught me that being young is not an excuse to not utilize our talents and make an impact in someone’s life. She’s also taught me that on our journies, alongside the glamour, there also might be struggles, but those shouldn’t stop us from pushing through still. Today, we get to spend a day with Banke and she shares with us everything from music, family and dealing with a low self-esteem to which celebrity she would be if she had a chance to switch for one day. Enjoy!
You studied music in school. What influenced this choice of study?
Lool. Honesty, a part of me thought I was not good at any other thing except music. I was getting good grades in music, going for musical competitions, representing my school in music affairs and was the music prefect twice while in Secondary school, in JSS3 and SS3 (Up Holy Child!). I was receptive to it but I wasn’t really interested in other subjects. I guess I just followed what I enjoyed doing and ended up writing music for my Jamb and Post UTME.
Did you get any resistance from home with your choice to study music?
No. They had my back all the way.
The Nigerian music industry is one that is so large and so competitive. At the time you chose to go into music, how were you so sure you could stand out in the industry and build a viable business from singing?
I just kept doing me. I knew eventually it would pay off and by the way, there was nothing to fall back on. It was either music or music, so I kept pushing and not taking any opportunity for granted. I kept being myself hoping that one day someone would notice and it’s been working.
Since you started, what has been the absolute highlight of your career?
Selling out my first show in school. It was something I thought would not be possible considering I only performed at departmental dinners and had probably attended just 3 or 4 events as an artiste. I thought as students, no one would pay the ‘not so huge’ but huge amount to watch me sing. Trust me, the show was completely sold out and I was shocked!
Do things get difficult sometimes?
Yes o. Things sometimes get difficult.
When things get difficult, how do you keep yourself going?
I cry o. Like you don’t get, I don’t have anything else to fall back to. I eat, sleep and drink music. It’s not like I can just drop it and say “wo, let me use my certificate to make money instead.” My certificate is B.A. Music. So, when things get difficult, I cry and then, I talk to God. I have no one else but God.
Being a very creative field, where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from my life; the things I go through; things I see myself becoming; the things I pray for myself. I try as much as I can to motivate or inspire someone from my experiences.
Kindly paint a typical day in Banke’s life.
Write songs. Check out new songs. Read books and watch movies.
Which do you prefer? Singing live or recording songs?
Singing live o.
How was your first live performance experience?
AMAZING!!!!!!! So, I had just gotten into school and my department was having this fresher’s night departmental concert. I put in for it and decided to sing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”. I remember getting to the part where I had to modulate and sing as high as she did and honestly, everything froze! Literally, everything froze. Of course, it was all in my head but I was in my own world for like 1 minute (even though it would only have been about 2 or 3 seconds in real life, lol). I can’t forget that moment. Like I can still see it, gosh!! – the piercing eye contacts and the ones looking like ‘See you, who sent you message? You wanted to show you can sing abi? God has caught you.‘ Then, everything flashed and I hit the note and you needed to hear the screams. I was HAPPPY! I am still happy remembering that moment! It was PRICELESS!!! Best first experience ever. I remember a friend, Tunde TNT walking up to me after the concert saying “I really thought you couldn’t hit that note. You surprised me.” I’m sure he can’t remember now. Haa, it was too cute!
What is the best part of performing your songs live?
When the crowd sings along.
What is the worst part of performing your songs live?
It’s trying to be different with every performance.
Do you ever get stage fright? If yes, how do you overcome it?
YESS!!! Every time, gosh!
I don’t know, when I hold the microphone, it’s like something just pops and says, ‘Banke you only have one shot at this and this is a step closer to your dream. You won’t probably get this opportunity again, so make it count. No matter how small the stage is or big you have to kill it Banke.’ And boom, I SING!
From making music covers and recording your own music to traveling for live shows, going for interviews, handling fame and still serving Nigeria as a youth corper, wow Banke, how do you balance all of these?
I’m enjoying the process o. Trust me, it’s not easy and it can be quite frustrating but this is what I have decided to do, so I just ask God for Grace to do the unusual. I mean, God has brought me this far and will not leave me hanging. I honestly can’t say it’s me balancing everything. It’s God. His Grace has helped me and his Grace is still helping me.
As a very young musician, has your age ever been a limiting factor?
No, it hasn’t.
When young girls and boys look up to you, what do you hope they see?
I hope they get inspired to chase their dreams.
If you could be one celebrity (African or foreign) for one day, who would you be and why?
Beyonce. I mean, why not?
Mention two Nigerian artists who inspire you to dream big?
Tiwa Savage and Ruby Gyang.
What’s your favorite musical instrument?
If you could be anything in the world, other than what you currently do, what would it be?
An interior decorator.
What’s that one thing you’d love to see BankeMusic do one day?
Sell out a stadium. Watch out!!!
How was it like growing up in an inter-ethnic home?
It was fun. I get to eat Starch with Banga soup, hehehe and it feels so good understanding both languages.
What is that one thing you love about being the first child?
I can’t actually say o. We are just two and the age gap is not even much. It feels like we are twins. So there’s really no feeling.
Growing up, was there ever anything that made you insecure about yourself or your body and how did you overcome those insecurities?
Yes, the fact that I am skinny.
I guess I realized my mum was skinnier than I am when she was my age lol, and if you see her now, she’s hot cake. I look at her and say ‘I have hope’ 🙂
Kindly give one advice to girls struggling with a low self-esteem.
Not all that glitters is gold. Plus, this life is not a competition. So, live and be happy in your space. Do not compare yourself, because trust me, there are some people who would die to be you also. So, who will now die for who? Abeg live.
Don’t compare yourself with anyone. This life is not a competition. So, live and be happy in your space.
If you had the power, what one thing would you do to ensure that people living with the sickle cell disease lead healthier lives?
I would educate people more and emphasize that we all should be grateful for life. Since we only have one life, I’ll push that we live it to the fullest and enjoy it. Being sickle cell is not the end of the world. Instead, it should push you to do the impossible, because strength comes from God and God alone.
Do you ever get social media envy? If yes, how do you curb it when it creeps in?
Yes, I do. Well, I distract and remind myself that everyone started from somewhere. Trust me, it’s easier said than done but I keep reminding myself that Rome was not built in a day.
One advice for young girls and boys looking up to you?
If you find that one thing that makes you happy, no matter the circumstance, keep at it and don’t lose focus. It’s hard and there would be highs & lows but keep pushing. It will pay off one day.
Please complete this in your own word. ‘Being a woman is —’
Being a woman is a gift, use it.
I hope you all enjoyed this interview as much as I did. I mean, who else could tell that Banke really likes to use the word ‘gosh’? and could you feel her excitement seeping through as she narrated her first live performance experience? It felt like I was right there in the room.
Another thing I found really interesting is that Banke is actually the first of the three women I’ve interviewed here, who is trailing a career in what she studied in school. Still, as we learned from Jumoke Salami, the big lesson for me here as well is that it’s really not about our degrees. Rather, it’s about our purpose and our passion. Sometimes, they might not be in line with what we’ve studied in school, and sometimes, they might. Either way, the most important thing is to recognize yours and live them.
I can’t thank Banke enough for this and even though I know I couldn’t completely capture every bit of her into this post, I hope you are inspired by her work just from reading the few things that she’s shared with us here.
pS: If you took anything out of this post, I’d like to know, so let’s talk in the comments below.
ppS: Please share this post with your friends. Thank you!