Get Familiar with The New Voice of Adult Contemporary Music, Guordan Banks
In a world full of fakes, Guordan Banks is the truth. Getting to know Guordan Banks can be likened to a breath of fresh air while listening to your favorite song on repeat. In explanation, there’s something new about it and energetic, yet oddly familiar. The soulful singer songwriter comes to us from Philadelphia with his EP A Song For Everyone with a mission to make great music. Having already made a name for himself writing for stars such as John Legend, Meek Mill and K. Michelle, he’s now ready to step out from behind the pen and the desk to show you what he can do with his label Bank On It Entertainment. Check out his chat with Parlé Magazine and feel the vibes.
Parlé Magazine: So Gu0rdan, I know you’ve been singing for a long time but when would say you got into music? What was that defining moment that made you want to make it a career?
Guordan Banks: Well, you know. Music is simply who I am. I think music got into me before I got into music. My family is deeply embedded in music, from my grandfather and grandmother to the rest of my family in general. I feel like one the defining moments for me was when I was in elementary school. One of the principals had called me out of class and I thought I was in trouble, and my mother used to work for the school too so I’m thinking “oh my god I’m in trouble,” but she brought me out of class and asked me to sing. I thought it was weird but I sung for her and I think she gave me candy or something like that? From there I thought if this lady just called me out of class to sing I must be good. Since then I just kept going and kept at it from there.
Parlé Magazine: A natural talent then! You mentioned your family was embedded in music, are any of them artists as well?
Guordan Banks: Well my grandfather played for a lot of the soul groups from Philadelphia like The Stylistics, he played the organ. My grandmother also toured a little bit as a jazz singer with different musicians back in the day but currently I don’t have anyone [in the family] that’s established in music.
Parlé Magazine: That’s impressive, with them having had some experience in music did they or any of their community help you get established in the business or offer any guidance?
Guordan Banks: Hmm I wouldn’t necessarily say that anyone guided me to get to where I am but I do have a lot of great people that have supported my career and supported me pursuing my dream.
Parlé Magazine: Given your natural talent I’m sure it wasn’t hard to get support. Continuing with the support theme, I know that you’ve gotten a lot of support for your song writing skills professionally but do you recall writing your first song?
Guordan Banks: Actually yeah, the first song I’ve ever written was when I was in high school. I was playing on the piano and I remember the girls around me just started crying and I was like “wow, I didn’t know that music had that much power.” From that experience and the reaction I got from the girls at school I realized I want to keep writing songs (laughs). I like this reaction (laughs).
Parlé Magazine: Making the girls fall to pieces (laughs). Since then you’ve went on to write with and for some pretty big names. Do you recall your first big break?
Guordan Banks: It was John Legend. You know what’s crazy? The night before I went into the studio with John Legend he was on CNN talking about some type of catastrophic event and the next day I got a call from my manager asking if I wanted to go and work with John Legend. I thought it was a dream! He was just on CNN! So I went to New York and he took a liking to me and I traveled with him for the next year and a half working on his album. It was a great experience and he pretty much opened the door for my song writing career. He’s an incredible person and I learned a lot from him. It was a good experience all around.
Parlé Magazine: That does sound incredible and obviously that’s a huge break for you. Are there any other artists that you’re looking to work with?
Guordan Banks: Umm, I’m actually looking forward to working with Chris Brown. He actually just tweeted one of my songs off of my mix-tape and we’ve been in communication. Hopefully we can get into the studio and make some magic soon. Of course Beyoncé, Rihanna, Jay-Z, Bruno Mars (laughs). All of them! (laughs)
Parlé Magazine: (laughs) Of course you got to work with those people. Now that you have been making music for quite some while for yourself and others what keeps you inspired to keep going?
Guordan Banks: I feel like God called me to do music, like I’m chosen to do it and nothing is more inspiring than to be called to do something you know?
Parlé Magazine: I totally get that, hence all your natural talents and your passion. Are there any other things that inspire you when making music? Maybe other artists?
Guordan Banks: Ummm I’m a big fan of Donny Hathaway and Luther Vandross and Whitney Houston, and Janet Jackson. There are so many artists that are so incredible, David Bowie, Nina Simone, I could go on and on and on because there so many geniuses in the music industry that you can’t just pinpoint one. But definitely Donny Hathaway – his voice is like butter. I am a huge fan of his and his vocal ability.
Parlé Magazine: I can agree with that, speaking on great artists there are a ton of great artists that came out of Philadelphia as you were growing into music. What was that like for you?
Guordan Banks: Yeah, you know growing up in Philly was pretty unique. I love Philadelphia but growing in Philly I just grew up. It wasn’t like I was performing as a child like Michael Jackson did when he was 12 or anything, I didn’t get into music full time until I was 21 and decided to quit my job and just go full time with music. But that city is known for its rich culture of soul and heart felt music and the rhythm. There’s a lot of oppression and depression and in areas like that music is the only thing that people have, similar to Detroit and Chicago. That grit and soul comes from the state of mind and the pain they are growing through and that pain and passion comes out through the music. So it means a lot to have grown up and be from Philly and to have that soul. That pain.
Parlé Magazine: You mentioned Detroit and we’ve talked about the talent from Philly that has come and is still rising, do you think Philly could be the next Motown?
Guordan Banks: Yeah I agree with that. Philly has some amazing incredible talent coming out of there to this day and I don’t think we get the credit we rightfully deserve. I don’t think Philly is necessarily the next Motown, I think Philly is Philly. Soul International. It’s its own genre. You gotta think about people like Teddy Pendergrass, Patti Labelle, Jackson 5, Smokie Robinson, and the list goes on. These people spent a lot of time in Philly so I feel like we’ve set ourselves apart with our own sound, with our own reputation and our own culture.
Parlé Magazine: Definitely agree, the soul is undeniable. Speaking of soul, is that how you would describe your music from your new EP A Song for Everyone?
Guordan Banks: I mean yeah, I would say my music is like fine wine. Its rich, it’s smooth, it’s light and gives you a little buzz and you can feel it right away. It touches the heart and makes you think. I call it life music. Life has so many different ups and downs and high moments and low moments. A lot of things in life we don’t talk about through music, we use to, but now a days we don’t hit those life subjects. Especially in Black music. I feel like I’m bringing that back in a sense and its much needed in a time like this.
Parlé Magazine: With so many life subjects to talk about how did you manage to keep this EP cohesive and still have a good listen?
Guordan Banks: I feel like I kept it cohesive because in a sense I kept it real and I get straight to the point. There are a lot of things to talk about in life but in most cases they are often related to one another. It’s kind of not the hardest thing to do to make it cohesive. You know what they say there’s nothing new under the sun so people can relate to almost everything. Like you said its life and everything goes together in some way shape or form.
Parlé Magazine: I’m feeling the track “Keep In Your Mind.” It has an 80’s funk vibe, was that intentional?
Guordan Banks: Yeah, it just kind of happened. K Roosevelt produced that song and it was just a feel good groove and when we got together we just made some magic. It’s been a fan favorite and I’m glad that it’s getting the feedback and response its getting.
Parlé Magazine: There’s another song called “Where Are You” ft. Meek Mill, can you tell me a little about it?
Guordan Banks: Yeah, me and Meek Mill just have a great chemistry. We did a song called “Heaven or Hell” with Jadakiss, we also did a song called “Used to Be“ and that’s kind of been our thing. When we get together, we talk about our truth and our environment, of course Meek is from Philly as well. It’s just an important song and an important question today for the state of our culture. Like, where are you? Where are the people who are going to stand up for the right thing and stand up for equality and for national peace? Where are the people that are really going to change the mindset of Black America from selling drugs and slinging guns? It’s just crazy out here and in every Black community we are losing ourselves so we have to find ourselves and really get back to what Malcom X was talking about and Martin Luther King was talking about. These kinds of songs slip under the radar but I always try and at least have one song like that on the album. In a sense it can come off cheesy and corny since that’s not what we’re doing right now but hell if I care. I got a platform and I’m going to let it be heard.
Parlé Magazine: A great message. It’s great to know there is more meaning to your music. Clearly you have different levels to you and your music, what do you want your fans to know about you as an artist?
Guordan Banks: You know that’s a good question and I’m glad you asked me that. What I want my fans to know about me is that I’m myself and there’s nothing in this game that alters me from being anything different from being myself. That’s the best advice I can give anyone in life. Just be yourself. So often this music industry alters people to be something that they are not. In me being myself it has taken longer (laughs) but it’s coming together.
Parlé Magazine: Well said. Before you go when can your fans look forward to that album release you mentioned?
Guordan Banks: We are trying to shoot for a January/February release.
Parlé Magazine: And how about any tours or performances where we can come check out your show?
Guordan Banks: Well, I’ve been in talks with some of my friends that are touring in the industry but definitely nothing locked in stone. I definitely want to be performing a lot in the up and coming months so I will definitely keep you guys posted in the future months.
Check out Guordan Banks on Instagram and Twitter: @guordan
Watch Guordan Banks Perform “Keep You In Mind”