A Conversation With Ellie Banke

With the combination of her soulful vocals and thoughtful, introspective lyrics, Ellie Banke is an artist that should be on everyone’s radar. At the age of twenty years old, Banke has made it her mission to write music that will touch and inspire anyone who listens. Heavily influenced by current pop artists, she has a style that is undeniably authentic, fresh, and unique. 

I first came across her music in about 2019, shortly after the release of her most well-known single “928 Miles”. At the time, I was taking vocal and guitar lessons at a local music studio in my hometown; the same studio that Banke writes and produces her music through. My teacher casually mentioned that he was involved in the process of producing her song and that it was quickly gaining popularity on Spotify. When I first listened to “928 Miles”, I was instantly blown away by both the powerfulness of her vocals and how she so carefully and effortlessly captured the feeling of love and longing for someone far away. “928 Miles” is a bluesy, bittersweet anthem. It beautifully describes the mannerisms and memories of a loved one while also lamenting the fact that the romance was doomed from the start. The way that Banke encapsulated the complexities of those emotions through her vocal talent, lyrics, and instrumentals was enough to make me an immediate fan. It was clear to me that she possessed a raw, natural talent that is so difficult to come by in the modern music industry. I quickly became interested in her journey as an independent, female musical artist. I recently had the privilege of speaking with her about her story, her songwriting process, some goals she has for the future, and what it means to her to be a woman in the music industry.

Banke started performing at the age of seven years old. “I sang at a church. It was around Christmastime so I performed a couple Christmas songs. Right when I did that, I loved the way it made me feel and how I could potentially make others feel. I think a big part of performing is giving people a bit of happiness, or any emotion that they need for the day”.

She credits Derek Berg, an instructor at Clarendon Hills Music Academy in Clarendon Hills, Illinois for guiding her throughout the process of finding her voice. “I have so much to be thankful for from him because he put me on a stage for the first time!”. Throughout high school, she was heavily involved in musical theater. She even planned to attend college to pursue a career in theater arts. But after high school, she shifted her focus to songwriting and production. Working with Clarendon Hills Music Academy, she wrote and produced two singles: “928 Miles” and “I Got U, U Got Me”. Both of these songs have very different styles but both still contain the authenticity of Banke’s lyrics. “I think my style is that I don’t really have a style!” Banke points out. “For the longest time, I was trying to write in one specific style. Now I don’t think about that and I just write what feels right in the moment”. 

Because Banke has been writing for most of her life, I was curious about where she draws inspiration for her well-crafted lyrics from.  “Most of my music is from my personal experiences because I really like to feel connected to my music. When people ask me where my music comes from, I like to be able to connect with people by sharing my experiences. So in that way my music is extremely personal to me” she says. 

In addition to her music, Banke also uses her platform to shed light on real-world issues. She is very involved with the body positivity movement, as well as promoting equality and expression for women. Because of this, we had a discussion about what it means to be a woman, in the music business and in the real world. “Music is a complicated business to get into as a woman” she says. “You see a lot of sexualization and mistreatment of women in this industry. There’s a tendency for an audience to focus on the wrong things, such as your looks, when you’re a woman in music. There’s also a lot of pressure to strive for perfectionism. Through whatever it is I’m doing, I want to influence women and men the same that self-expression is important and that you should be able to look and act the way you want without fear of judgement from others. If you are happy and comfortable in your own skin, that is the only thing that should matter”.  

One can expect many exciting projects from Banke in the future. In the next few weeks, she plans on releasing a single entitled “Brighter Days”, a song that she describes as “a perfect travel song—you know for times like when you’re taking a walk outside or going on a long drive”. But perhaps her most exciting upcoming project is an 11 track album, each song stylistically different but culminating her experiences and emotions. “The outro of the album specifically is very personal to me. It’s called ‘Starlight’ and it’s a very sentimental song. It’s about my dad who passed away when I was almost two. Growing up, it was difficult for me to connect with him since I had lost him at such a young age. Last year, I was looking through some old VHS tapes and I came across some old family videos. I brought the tapes over to my boyfriend’s house and I found a video that my dad had left for me and my sister a day before he passed. It was beautiful. He told us everything was going to be okay and read us a bedtime story. So that tape is going to be playing over the song” Banke says. She hopes to release this album by this fall. “I’m excited for the album, I’m excited for the future, and I’m looking and moving nowhere but up!”. 

About Sarah Holland

Sarah Holland is a freshman from Clarendon Hills, Illinois. She is in the LAS Global Studies program. She loves listening to music of all genres (except country), as well as writing music and playing the guitar.

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