Rising singer/songwriter crooner Guordan Banks made a splash with his 2014 EP A Song For You and its single “Keep You In Mind.” The song had both oldheads and youngbloods sprung off it’s infectious groove.
Now, Banks is back with a new summer single featuring DeJ Loaf called “Where You Wanna Do This” as a part of his forthcoming album titled Unpopular due out this fall.
The Philly-born, L.A. residing singer/songwriter took some time out to chat it up with Singersroom about the new project, his musical upbringing in the soulful city of Philly, overcoming a speech impediment as a child, creative inspiration, and much more.
Check it out below!
Growing up in Philly, did the Philly sound heavily influence you?
For sure, it definitely influenced me. What Philly offers is a lot of soul, it’s a city where people often tend to keep it too real. The music is very real and the music is very organic. I had the pleasure to work out of Sing and Sound, where Gamble & Huff, The Jackson 5, Teddy Pendergrass and a lot of the legendary Philly artists worked out of. I would definitely say I’m cut from that cloth for sure.
I read in your bio that growing up, you had a stuttering problem, but thanks to your mother, you overcame that. How did you do that?
My mother noticed when I started singing at church that I wouldn’t stutter, and instead of telling her what I wanted or needed by talking, she would tell me to sing it to her. I was just telling somebody that I think that may have helped me with my songwriting ability, to be able to put anything into a song, a melody. And to look back and see that I overcame that, and that’s how I did it, it’s cool that I became a songwriter, becoming an artist, it’s a dope thing to look back on.
You’ve worked with including 50 Cent, Kanye West, John Legend, K. Michelle, and more. How did you get your foot in the door working with big names like that to begin your career as a songwriter?
People ask me that all the time. It’s almost like waking up, how did that happen? God, you know? God. He’s the person who puts you in a position, he showed me favor. I’ve had a great opportunity to work with John Legend, he was one of the first artists I’ve ever written for. That was a great introduction because he’s someone who writes his own songs, so it was a privilege and an honor to work with him, and he gave me an opportunity to work with Kanye West. Keyshia Cole is another artist that helped break me as a songwriter, I was able to help build my relationships. Being at the right place at the right time and stepping up to the occasion and delivering the right product, so I’m thankful for the gift.
What‘s your songwriting/creative process like?
The songs come to me in different ways. I just wrote a song recently called “Need A Hug” which is a great song that I collaborated with Omari Hardwick. He did spoken word on the record. I was sitting at a restaurant and someone sat next to me, and they described what I was eating as “a hug from the Lord.” I was like wow, that’s a dope song concept. I felt like that’s what people needed right now in the world today, we all need a hug from the Lord. He was talking about food, but I got the concept to mean something different. So songs come in different ways for me, and it’s not one way so it’s no one answer for that. I like to go into a studio and hear the music or make the music and record and just express what I feel and just build from that.
Your 2014 debut project A Song for Everyone put you on the map as one to watch, especially after the single “Keep You In Mind” which had such a great vibe. Tell us about that song’s creation.
“Keep You In Mind” is a song that has a sound that I believe everyone is craving for. I created that sound when I was in the studio with K. Roosevelt and he had the music, and I couldn’t have created the song if it wasn’t for K. Roosevelt’s music, so I wanna thank him for presenting that track to me. I just felt the vibe, it was my first year in Cali and I felt that groove and the magic happened.
You’ve said that “Music today can be so cookie-cutter,” and I’ve read that you’re passionate about contributing to the resurgence and current elevation of R&B music.Do you have any advice for artists who’s hearts are into making music that’s not necessarily “trendy”, per se, or their sound is constantly being called “dated,” but they feel pressured by their label or other people or to make music for today’s “trap/rap and B” style R&B?
The advice I would give to someone who wants to do that…you know, I was talking to a friend, and it just naturally came out, I said “you have to stand in before you stand out.” And that advice is what I would give to that artist. To find out who the are and stay true to their beliefs and what they love. If you stay true to that, people will embrace it and embrace you. My debut album is coming out at the top of the next quarter, and it’s called Unpopular. I named it that cause I wanted to share with people that it doesn’t cost you your integrity to be great or successful. What you first have to do is fall in love with yourself before anyone loves you. It’s kind of like what people say when it comes to Black Lives Matter. Yeah, black lives matter, but black lives have to matter to black people first, so when people see black lives, the say “wow, they take care of themselves, the take care of each other. It’s like, how can you expect someone to respect your art, your gift, if you’re not staying true to your gift? Yeah, man, gotta stand in first.
That reminds me of how they say, even before getting into a relationship, you gotta love yourself before someone else can love you.
As it pertains to any relationship, you might love yourself, but you can’t love somebody who don’t love themselves. And a lot of people miss that part too. And it’s the same with anything. I didn’t look at it that way, but you just opened my mind and thoughts to something new, I appreciate that.
That’s what’s up, glad I can do that for you (laughs). What can you tell us about your forthcoming album Unpopular? You said you Omari Hardwick on there, and spoken word…
Yeah, unpopular stuff, right? The album is incredible, and I say that in the humblest way possible. With me, I always describe my music and myself as fine wine: it gets better with time. If you notice, the more sour the grapes are, the better the wine tastes. Sometimes when people first hear it, they say, “It doesn’t sound like Drake, Bryson Tiller, or the current sound that’s popular right now, but it sounds good, but I like it, I dig it, I feel it, I love it.” And not knocking those artists, I’m a fan of all those artists I mentioned, but I’m different and that’s what makes them different. I feel like this album is a vibe that people been longing for, and I can’t wait to share it.
Tell us about your collab with DeJ Loaf, “Where You Wanna Do This?”
Me and Dej, we’ve known each other for a few years now. She reached out to me about two years ago on Instagram. This was before she had the big hit “Try Me.” She was on Instagram. I liked her style, I liked her vibe, and we became cool. We have about 4 or 5 songs together, and this song is the one we thought would be good, give people something to dance to. It‘s summertime, and just have a little fun. Even that song, it’s “unpopular” because you don’t expect us two to be on a song like that, with that type of vibe. So it’s a fun, summer record and I hope the people are enjoying it.
What next for Gourdan Banks? I hear you have a promo tour coming up?
Yeah we’ve been talking to some people at ICM, I’m working with them on tour ideas now. I’m actually looking to package my own tour for this October. Everything is looking good, I’m thankful, I couldn’t have asked for a better journey. I love the process.