[Picking The Brain] BMW Interviews Lisa Banton
Lisa Banton “Picking the Brain”
There are few times when I am so impressed with music that I share it with one of the biggest critics & most talented people I know. When I first heard Lisa Banton sing I immediately shared her music with my most trusted musical confidant. She was impressed maybe even more so than I. I’ve now been granted to honor of being able to pick the brain of one of the most talented new R&B artists. Check out what I found out!
How are you doing Lisa?
I’m doing very well thanks.
Who or what is your biggest influence musically?
My dad George Banton is a singer as well and I would count him as my first and biggest influence in terms of wanting to be a singer.
I know that me being from Pittsburgh and having an artists like Wiz Khalifa and now Mac Miller getting national attention has shown a light on my city. Do you feel like its been the same for you with artists like Drake?
Yea it’s definitely put a light on our city on a whole but I wouldn’t say it’s made it any easier for artists to make it out of here though. It is however, nice to say where you’re from and have people recognize it because of the success of Canadian artists such as Drake.
Is there any pressure for you as an artist from Toronto to be that next emerging star because so much attention is being payed to your city with labels and media searching for that next hot artist?
I don’t feel any pressure from that at all. I’ve been singing, writing and performing for a number of years and because of that fact, my drive was established a long time ago. The newfound attention on the city hasn’t added any more pressure than what I’ve already put on myself. My goal from the start has been to be known as a quality singer and writer and to share my music with people who appreciate it and everything has remained the same in that sense.
The first time I heard you I believe it was the song “Green Eyes” and all I could think of was wow she sounds similar to Mary J Blidge. I’m sure you get that alot but what do you think of that? And with your voice having a similar sound to hers have you found that to be a help or a hindrance?
Over the years I have heard it a lot. At this point of what I do as an artist, the comparison is cool but at the end of the day, I just want people to listen past that and hear what I have to offer as an artist. The comparison has been both a good and bad thing. The good is that it may grab the ears of more people and the bad is that some can’t get over the similarities. When people don’t take the time to separate us as artists, especially influential people, it can certainly hinder me from getting to the next level of my career. When people count me out as a duplicate instead of a different artist, it’s definitely a step back.
A quick YouTube search of “Lisa Banton” brings up a ton of remixes. But unlike most vocalists on YouTube the videos you post aren’t of you singing a ton of popular R&B songs whether old or new. I found a TI track, a Drake song and even your own Remix of a Young Buck jam. Whats the thought process behind selecting those type of songs? Why?
Well as a writer, it’s important to me to be able to share that aspect of what I do. It’s just as important to me as singing. So instead of doing covers of popular songs, I choose instrumentals that I like and that are somewhat known and display my writing along with my vocals. In regards to why I choose beats in particular, 90% of the time I choose them just because I like them. For one reason or another, the beat has to inspire me to write and when it does I just go with it.
With the success of writers turned singers like Keri Hilson, Neyo and others have you considered taking that path to push your career faster?
Yes. I am currently in the process of doing some writing in order to be placed with artists other than myself. I didn’t always think that was the best way for me to get my foot in the door but it’s definitely a proven method of getting recognition.
Being that George Banton is your father have you considered doing any songs with him? Or are there some done there already?
I’ve actually done 2 songs with my father “He Lives” and “You’re Wondering Now”. I’m in the process of recording another one for a CD he will be releasing shortly.
Do you get any flack from him being that he is a Gospel singer and right now you aren’t making that type of music?
No not at all. Though he is a Gospel singer, there was a time in his career where he switched focus musically and produced some R&B/Soul albums. Growing up, that was the first style of music I familiarized him with. It was that part of his career that ultimately inspired and influenced me to do R&B music. He loves what I do and I get 100% of his support.
What do you think about the current state of music specifically R&B?
Right now, R&B doesn’t do nearly as much for me as it did when I was growing up. The state of R&B now in my opinion lacks relatable experiences and topics. There are some good songs out now but it’s rare to come across any song these days that I can sit down and say “damn…that’s how I’m feeling right now!” Songs about being pretty and getting money are cool but I miss the music that spoke about things that really meant something. I remember the songs that you could use to speak for you when you didn’t have the words and I wish there more songs like that now.
How would you define or describe your musical style?
I would describe my music as traditional R&B/Soul with a Hip Hop element. The era I grew up in which was that Hip Hop/Soul era, really embedded that in my style. Soulful and meaningful songs on heavy hip hop based production are something I relate to. I can write and perform a nice slow love song but I’m also capable of bringing that same vibe on something up tempo and hip hop infused.
You have the mix-tape out “Mirror Mirror Vol 1” right now, what can we expect from you next musically?
Yes, “Mirror Mirror Vol.1” was released in 2009 and Vol.2 should be released sometime in the New Year. It’ll be somewhat like the first where I’ve written over some well known commercial beats but it will include some original songs as well. I’m excited about sharing it.
Do you have anything else you want to say to your fans?
To the people who have listened to my music in any capacity and liked it, I just want to say that I sincerely appreciate your support. This is a hard business and a lot of what has kept me going is the love and support I get from all over the world so, THANK YOU.
Check out Lisa’s new project “Mirror Mirror Volume 2”
Visit www.lisabanton.com for more music & info