Banks, Musician


“I grew up in the valley, and now I kind of live in the hills. LA is interesting because there's a peace to it, there's a relaxation to it and then there's...if you're in a certain mental place, it can be quite dark. There's this air of desperation—if you're from there you don't feel it as much because it becomes normalized. Nobody notices that stuff when they’re young.

Even though I grew up in the golden age of music videos, the emotions behind songs always affected me more than the visuals. Now, being able to play with visuals and clothing is great. When I was performing my first album, my favorite dress to wear on stage was this Rick Owens dress that was very structured and had a really graphic shape to it. I still like wearing black, but for a while I only wanted to wear black. I felt very guarded in general. I just had my first show in two years a week ago, and I wanted a little bit more movement. I'll always have jagged edges, but now I'm feeling a little bit softer and a little more romantic. I love doing it all, and all of it fulfills me, but I would not be able to function without music and I could probably survive without the rest. It's almost like music is water and the rest is delicious chocolate chip cookies—I wouldn’t be as happy without them, but I’d survive.


In the studio, I love having lit candles. Le Labo candles are great—Santal is my favorite. I just got a bunch of candles from Carasoin, too—do you know that place in LA? It’s an all-natural facial place, and they sell products. Actually, this makeup artist with the most beautiful skin told me about it. They give you blueberry tea when you walk in, and it’s a really relaxing environment. The candles smell so fresh. My mom got me this huge refillable candle—it’s actually crazy. It kind of looks like a thick wooden bowl, but it’s filled with candle wax and 30 wicks. It sits on the floor, and when you light it it looks so beautiful. Every time it runs out, you can just re-pour wax in it.

What I wear on stage is pretty much the same thing I’d be attracted to if I were going out and trying to look really beautiful. I’ve always loved black, I’ve always loved really delicate straps and loose, slip types of shirts. The boning to my aesthetic has been the same since I was 12, but of course that changes a little as you get older. Right now, I’m really into dark green and maroon and metallics.

I'll always have jagged edges, but now I'm feeling a little bit softer and a little more romantic.

I wear very minimal makeup in my day-to-day—I feel like I have a baby face, so when I don't have makeup on there's a softness to me that I like. And I don't really wear foundation, because I have freckles and I like showing them. But when I'm on stage, I have that softness in my music, and I like to feel really fierce. I don't know if I'm great at doing other people's makeup, but I can do my own because I know my own face. I like drawing and painting, and it's not so different from that. But my makeup artist on tour, Nina [Park], is the best. I’m impatient, and makeup definitely goes faster when someone else is doing it. I went so glam last night. I told her I wanted to look like an Italian princess—a real Italian vixen, Monica Bellucci vibe. I’ve been into feeling very womanly and babely. It’s interesting because light brown is my natural hair color—my whole life, I've used a lot of browns and even deep purples and golds. That type of palette. When I dyed my hair black, the warm tones and gold didn't look as good, so I started using more cool tones, like silver. It was almost like I had to re-learn how to do my makeup. Now I’m back to light brown and a golden palette, and I like to do a burnt color near the lash line. I've been using Nars or Dior shadows, and Nars bronzer is the best.


When I’m on stage I love wearing my hair down, but I move so much that it always ends up getting in my face. What I do is wet the front parts and pin them behind my ears. My goal for this next tour is to master not needing to do that—just being OK with getting sweaty. This blue Bumble and Bumble spray is the best because it’s not super synthetic-feeling like other hairsprays—I like being able to put my hands through my hair.

It's always a disaster when I wear [a strong] lip color on stage. I forgot which festival it was, but I was wearing a pinkish color, and when I came off stage for a second my monitor guy told me to, ‘Fix your fucking face.’ The whole bottom half of my face was pink—they were showing all this big screen footage of me looking like I had a strawberry smoothie all over. So on stage I don't usually do a strong lip—a super nude lip and super dark eye is usually my thing.

I have bushy eyebrows, so usually I’ll just brush them up and use Brow Flick to make them look a little wispy and feathery. I like a cat eye, but I like when there’s some blending to make it smoky. I usually use a really small brush that has a little water on it, and dab the shadow on. I've always been into dark brown eyeliner—I mean, if you saw pictures of me from eighth grade, I looked like a friggin owl. Never black, always dark brown. And I used to hate mascara when I was younger. Like, if I ever had to have my makeup done for a fancy event, I’d always ask them not to put mascara on me. I don't know why, I just liked it better without. Now I use Dior mascara, and I love how it looks, but taking it off is still my least favorite thing. It's like nail polish in that way.


Have you heard of Justice Bodan's The Fragrance? I’m obsessed. Their oil is my favorite in the world—black leather, musk, sandalwood, amber, tobacco, oakmoss. I feel like with oils, the scent becomes a part of your skin or something. It feels like it's more of you. The next thing on my list is to find a good CBD oil. My friend Cassie is a masseuse, and I recently got really into CBD oil massages. I know you don't get high from CBD oil, but I definitely feel something whenever I go. Maybe I'm extra sensitive or something.

When I’m home in LA, I like going to a friend's house or having people over, or I'll go out to dinner. That’s when I’ll do a lip. What I love about red lipstick in particular is that it looks like you tried, but you didn’t. Nars Cruella is my favorite. And I love that I can blot it and put it on my cheeks, too—it's good for everything. Chanel Rouge Coco Stylo in Script is a pinkish brown, and I'll do that if I don't have any makeup on and have to run to meet someone. Just to spruce up a little bit, it's really easy. I like this too, the Merry Rose lip duo—this is Chanel again. I’ve always used a lot of Chanel makeup. One side is a gloss, and the other is a liquid lipstick. The lipstick side of it does not smudge, and they have it in every color. Their brow pencil is good for on-the-go, too—I usually keep it in the car.

What I love about red lipstick in particular is that it looks like you tried, but you didn’t.

If I had to say whether my skin is more oily or dry, I’d say it’s on the drier side. I’m pretty lucky that I've never had a huge problem like acne—though I used to get one pimple right between my eyes, and my friends would call me Cyclops. Usually I cleanse with something sort of soft. I’ve been using this DNA Skin Institute Crème of Nectar Soothing Wash from Carasoin. There’s also an Urban Veda cleanser that I love. It’s an Ayurvedic brand from the UK, and I love everything from them. And sometimes I’ll just use the Trader Joe’s one. Then I use a serum from Luzern called Serum Absolut Rehydrate, which is just for hydration. Then I put on a moisturizer. I love when products are so moisturizing that they start off feeling like an oil—but I don’t actually like oils. I find that they just kind of stay oily, or stay on top of my skin. I usually like this one from Urban Veda, which is really hydrating but doesn't leave a film. It sinks in after two seconds. I use the Cold Fusion Intense Moisture cream from Carasoin at night. It smells really good—I just got a new one—and you only need the tiniest little bit. Every so often I like to use this ReFa tool, which is from a Japanese brand. It feels like the best facial massage in the entire world.


When we get back after the show, my band and I make PB&J sandwiches—actually, you know Uncrustables? I tried them for the first time on tour, and that became my snack for a while. On another tour, I was really into avocado rolls. I still haven’t mastered the calm down after a show yet. I would get so much adrenaline in my brain, and then when I’m done I’m supposed to go to sleep? I’d end up staying up for hours after, and then it’s 3AM and we have to drive on. What ended up happening is I’d crash and feel almost depressed after every show. With this tour I’ve been trying to hang out more on the bus, and watch movies with everybody. It’s also a good time to do a mask—I love those Korean sheet masks, but my favorite is the yellow one from Kiehl’s. Doing something very normal like that calms me down a little bit.”

—as told to ITG

Banks photographed by Tom Newton in New York on July 17, 2019.