S4YL Interview / Joe Banfi
Here and there, you get a proof from the world that it is not yet time to give up on the music industry as it is still able to quietly release undiscovered talents and true poets. A few weeks ago, thanks to Matt & Ellie, I fell across the first Ep of Joe Banfi, a Northwitch (UK) singer songwriter Joe Banfi. Playing somewhere in between the shades of darkness like Rothko was able to, finding the light in details leading us somewhere in between the warmth of the folk chords of his guitar and the the freedom of the melodies, Joe Banfi has woken me up from being a function to being me. Don’t worry it happened before, but the feeling is always a strong one. So I had to talk him
What was your childhood like? In what environment did you grow up?I grew up in the countryside just outside Northwich, in between Manchester and Liverpool. My parents were always massively supportive and made sure I never quit at things which I think helped made me very ambitious as I grew up. I spent most of my time with my older brother, and we had loads of fun on this rope swing my dad built by the house – that’s until I got a Sega Mega Drive and we spent every night after school playing Mortal Kombat.
What is the first book you remember reading?
I read books as part of school that I had no interest in. I think the first book I picked up for myself was “Truckers” by Terry Pratchett. I loved it but I was a really slow reader, it took me about six months to read which put me off reading anything else for ages!
Did you want to be something or someone growing up?
I wanted to be the master of everything – at one point when I was little I vowed to become a Taekwondo instructor just to prove my brother wrong. Most of my ambitions didn’t go any further than an aggressive vow. I knew I wanted to be a musician after I saw Sum 41 play a live set on MTV2 around the time I started writing songs.
Do you remember your first gig?
It was at The Volunteer pub in Northwich supporting The Dukes Of Portland. I was in a band called The Switches with my brother and I was about thirteen. It was one of the best gigs of my life!
Do you feel you have something to say, do you have a message, or are you simply emotionally reacting to your environment ?
I’m not sure. I think I have more things to ask than to say. Before I write lyrics to a melody I normally set out a series of questions that I don’t know the answer to in relation to a particular subject, like human virtues, and these questions are normally triggered by events I read about and watch in fiction. Then the lyrics just orientate around those questions.
How do you find the balance in between being inspired by someone’s music and being able to find your own songwriting?
That’s hard. I’d say about 20% of the songs I write get discarded because they resemble my influences too closely. But hopefully that percentage will gradually drop over time: songwriting is a life-long craft that I’ve been working extremely hard at for years and I’m always learning more about it.
How did you come to want to be part of a business such as the music business? How would you describe the influence of Ian Grimble, your producer, on your music ?
I feel so lucky to be working with a label as artist-friendly as Communion. They’ve helped surround me with a team of people who have a deep love for art and creativity and the business side of things is just an unfortunate necessity that we all deal with in such a great way that it hardly feels like business. Ian adds a huge amount to my sound. He and I have spent the last year working together and he knows the vibes I’m trying to portray as well (if not better!) as I do.
How did you build this EP? How would you describe it?
With lots of takes. We had lots of useable takes in the vocals but there were only a small handful on each track that truly captured the essence of what each song is about. I spent lots of time trying to get back to the point in my head when I first wrote each song.
Does literature or poetry inspire you, do you have favorite writers and poets?
Poetry doesn’t because I don’t read enough of it. Literature does, but again I don’t read nearly as much as I want myself to. My favourite writers that inspire me at the moment are James Lee Burke, Cormac McCarthy and George Mackay Brown.
What do you hope to get from releasing this EP?
All I want is small amount of passionate fans who really get my music. The way the EP has been received by listeners on Xfm and Zane’s show on Radio 1 has been fantastic, and it’s amazing to have people coming down to shows when I play out of town in places I didn’t now I had fans. I massively appreciate their support, especially at this early stage.
You can find Joe Banfi’s first Ep Guts & Bones on itunes !