BANKS Gets Real

Jillian Banks, commonly known as BANKS, has not been one to hide her struggles with mental illness. In the first single off of her second album The Altar, Banks describes her internal war by fearlessly stating, “I fuck with myself more than anybody else” and continues to use the whole song to explore the different aspects of her relationship with herself. Banks asserts that her struggles with mental illness are what propelled her to the music career today- “it’s a form of therapy” she asserts in an interview. She elaborates in a separate interview with KTB, “ I put everything in my music...It’s about such personal stuff.” Banks is not ashamed of where she’s been and one of her songs on her first album is even titled, “You Should Know Where I’m Coming From.”  Banks boldly states to KTB, “I’ve struggled with depression since I was sixteen or seventeen so every few years it hits me and definitely I got hit when I was in the middle of writing this album [the altar--her second album].” She poetically continues by expressing the positive side to her struggle, “I think depression is the stage right before you give birth to something...with everything destructive comes creation--that’s how I think of depression.”

Not only does Banks talk openly about mental health, she links mental illness to external forces by stating in an interview that society wants women “as small as possible...It makes you think you can't be fierce and you can't be aggressive and you can't be authoritative…” She counters this societal view by stating, “women are so powerful and so beautiful and I want them to feel that.” When asked to speak about body image as a celebrity, she simply yet beautifully comments, “This is my body. This is what helps me walk. This is what helps me have sex. This is the house that I live in.” When asked about her courageous emotional honesty with the public and her fans in an interview, Banks states, “I think there’s this stigma and fear. I’ve experienced it in business as a woman.” Further, when people call her depression just “emotional” she corrects, “It’s actually not emotional, it’s just factual.”

Banks de-stigmatizes mental illness by talking openly about it and how it helped her pave the path to where she is today as a musician and an artist. Banks is not one to let anyone or any mental illness prevent her from being her strongest self, in her song Weaker Girl off of her second album, she states, “I can’t be the weaker girl, kinda like the girl I used to be...I’ma need bad motherfucker like me.”

Natasia PelowskiComment