[EXCLUSIVE] Banoffee Premieres Video for “Body Suit”
Melbourne-based musician Martha Brown aka Banoffee exploded across the internet’s vast soundscapes back in 2013 when she released her widely shared debut single “Ninja“. Since then, we’ve seen periodic spurts of her effervescent breathy pop music with r&b sensibilities come out of her camp, all of which have been formidable follow ups to her “Ninja” success. Nevertheless, for those of us waiting for an album from Brown’s Banoffee project– it’s likely we’ll see a lot more singles and EPs from Brown before she releases a long play. It’s not her who is making that decision, rather the tracks themselves as she tells us. For now, she’s graced us with a brand new music video for her single “Body Suit” off her EP Do I Make You Nervous? along with a window into her creative process behind “Body Suit” and the video’s visuals. Watch the video and check out the interview below.
Victoria Durden: What was the inspiration for the song Body Suit?
Banoffee: I wrote Body Suit during my first trip to Los Angeles. I was nervous going into the studio with people I’d never met, and this was pretty much the entirety of my schedule. These sessions are what made me realise that there’s more to my career than writing music, that I need to own my every move and become a sassy-ass business woman. Body Suit for me is about exploring the concept of authenticity when enmeshed with self-experimentation. Just because you’re trying something new, it doesn’t mean you’re acting or being untrue to who you are. The lyrics “it’s all for you but its really for me – strip it off like a scrub so quickly” are about the image of someone putting on different costumes to live out their hopes and dreams. I like this track because It empowers me as a producer and writer – reminding me that I can feel shy or less skilled than whoever I’m working with, but at the end of the day I’m developing as an artist and a person. I strip of the suit I wore for the day, take what I need from it and return to the values and traits that I honour and that make me, me.
How did you come up with your name “Banoffee”? Most people know it as a really delicious pie flavor.
Banoffee: Hehe this is one is not a great story. I’m a sucker for double letters. I also think there’s something daggy about the word Banoffee and a humbleness which I like. I didn’t want to have a name that connected with genre as I never want to completely sit in one spot stylistically.
You’ve said you were afraid most people wouldn’t take you seriously– what experiences have you had that have made you feel that way? Do you still feel that way today?
Banoffee: I admit that I am not the best with self-belief. I find the entire experience of releasing music I create very scary, but in the same way that’s what makes it so wonderful and addictive. I think what makes me insecure stems from much more than just the amazing musical community I have around me. It’s still a boys club out there, and people are often looking for reasons to put you down or make you feel small. I don’t want to puff my chest up like the boys, I don’t want to win off someone else losing. If I did, I’d have burnt out a long time ago.I often make my music with instruments I’ve just begun to explore, because of this I find it intimidating presenting songs that are as much learning experiences as they are finished works.
Does it help that other women in pop, like Grimes for instance, are really making an effort to take ownership of their own work?
Banoffee: Definitely, Grimes has paved a good path for people to walk in terms of authorship. I admire her for standing her ground giving herself due credit for what she makes. In the end its about making sure you’re crediting everyone involved, that’s why I make it clear that a lot of my tracks are co-produced. I need to make sure I credit the insane producers who worked on the tracks as well as being proud of the work I did in production and writing as well.Women who rightfully claim authorship are not only doing right by themselves, but showing other women that it’s not arrogant or unfair to be proud of their own work.
You’re a big fan of commercial r&b and that comes out in your work on the Banoffee project, would you ever want to collaborate with an r&b artist? What would that kind of collaboration look like if you did?
Banoffee: I’d die to work with some RnB artists. I love the old school Ashanti Ja Rule vibes, and of course Mario has been a big influence on me. What I love about RnB right now is that its coming from artists who are open minded and willing to tangle genres. Mura Masa is making amazing music with melodic references to RnB, Mapei and Nao are just two female voice of millions who are killing it in a similar approach. I guess the dream is to work with someone like Blood Orange who slips in and out of genres like flip flops – but that’s why it’s a dream haha, I doubt I’ll ever make it that far.
Who are the most interesting women artists making music right now, according to you? What makes them interesting?
Banoffee: Fka Twigs and Grimes are obvious women who are making great work at the moment, but there are some other serious underdogs out there. Nao’s latest release has a lot of power behind it, Okay Kaya who is a New York girl has recently released one of my favourite video’s and tracks of the year (I’m stupid but I love you). Little Simz is breaking boundaries for women in the rap scene, and Becky Sui Zhen who is a Melbourne girl has a new Album out that has incredible production. For me what makes these women interesting is their ability to share personal stories, show vulnerability and turn that fragility into something strong.
Tell us about what it’s like working with visuals (in your music video) as opposed to sound (in your music), is it more or less challenging…what about satisfying?
Banoffee: I think it’s easy to be tricked into thinking that visuals will be easier because the song is already written and there for you, but that’s where video clips can becoming boring or predictable.I find it just as challenging as making the song itself because I don’t want my video’s to be an obvious follow on from the lyrical content. My latest clip, Body Suit is an example of something that was super challenging for me, but that I’m really proud to have finished. I’ve never acted before and this is the most film-like video I’ve made. Working with a new Director (Rhys Mitchell) was really scary and almost like dating a new partner haha, I had to share everything with him, my every fears and my every thought about this song because we were creating the next step together.
But – video being an area that is still new to me makes it all the more satisfying to work on because I’m constantly taking risks and learning new skills.
You told the Sydney Morning Herald you prefer releasing your music as EPs, why is that? Do you have any plans to release an album soon?
Banoffee: That’s a secret that I don’t even know. For the moment I want to just write music, whether it turns into a single, an album, an EP – that’s for the tracks to decide when they’re fully finished.
You played at CMJ in New York – did you get a chance to check out some other shows while you were there? What was the most captivating?
Banoffee: Oh goodness CMJ was so long ago! I didn’t get to see much to be honest, I was in the studio everyday. I did get to meet with Daye Jacks and Sweater Beats who are both doing seriously cool stuff.
The Internet has played a big role in jumpstarting your notoriety, what does that mean for you as an artist and the choices you make moving forward?
The internet is so weird – I have no idea how to even begin to harness it. Every share on the net though, is an action by a real human and it’s those people I have to thank. The internet has enabled people to explore, but it’s the support and time that people take to share what they enjoy that makes music spread.