It’s always exciting to uncover fresh talent that strives to break the mold. Undefined by genres, and more about the energy of each piece of music and art, the Banksia name drives a distinct and polished finesse. Born in Manchester, yet raised in Zambia his early influences shine throughout his productions. Now residing in the heart of San Francisco, a true electronic hub, this breakthrough artist and DJ has truly found his core.
Recognised for delivering an artistic journey from studio to the stage, he actively embraces the underground whilst fluidly translating to broad crossover appeal. His music consistently serves as a positive output and internal guide following the passing of his father. This period remains the catalyst for his ominous output and how Banksia originally formed. Applying a prominent love for Disco, Funk, R&B, Soul and Jazz with firm inflections of House and Techno. His unique style encapsulates authentic sounds projected from his upbringing back in Zambia (Africa). Each performance and live DJ set encompasses an expanse of worldly influence, leaving a lasting impression and musical memory with every listen. Landing with a sizable mark, Banksia is fast becoming a notable name on the international scene. Both respected by industry and audience alike, he is no stranger to featuring on global stages, and entertaining at some of the world’s most revered festivals and clubs.
Banksia’s sound instantly transmits an energy that ignites dance floors. Vasu Patel, the name behind the profile, proudly relishes his growth and achievements to date. With a well-rounded career spanning across the musical spectrum, his electronic-fuelled experiences and soundscapes have become second nature. Starting from his early music production studies in Sydney (Australia) and reaching across to the consoles of his home in California, Vasu has clearly integrated his vision for the future. Now accelerating his public identity through the power of his music, Banksia is fully immersed in the creative process, connecting with the crowd with relative ease.
Below we share a few choice words with Vasu Patel, highlighting the many influences that have helped establish his name as an artist to watch on the lectronic scene.
Introduce yourself, who exactly is Banksia?
Hi, I’m Vasu aka Banksia which is my artist alias. I DJ and produce under this moniker.
What first inspired you to become a producer?
So actually, before becoming a producer I was a DJ. I was playing music at different clubs and shows, through that I started to get into producing music and found a spark. I almost gave up making music a couple of years back to be honest, but two close friends pushed me to continue and thankfully, here we are! It’s been worth the journey.
Which instrument did you first play and why?
The first instrument I started playing was the piano. In all honesty, my parents forced me to take piano lessons and I’m not going to lie, I hated the classes when I was forced to take them. Fortunately I always loved improvising whenever I was in front of the piano, so looking back, I’m extremely grateful I learnt to play keys.
How did your collaboration with Self Tape come about?
I have been a massive fan of his work for ages. I came across his music and we first connected via instagram. We hit it off musically, then bounced a couple ideas between each other and this one is the one that stuck! We both loved the Detroit influence of this track.
This is a key release for you, tell us more about the vibe behind it.
I would say more than a vibe it’s the influence. I have been a huge fan of the Detroit and Chicago house sound from the start, especially from the 90’s combined with a touch of rave. I am also influenced by the experimental sounds from the likes of Floating Points, Joy Orbison and loads of current names. I think this track touches all of those influences which create the vibe it portrays.
Born in Zambia, studied in Australia, living in the USA and releasing on a UK label… does this influence your sound?
Of course, I think traveling, meeting new people, hearing music in different parts of the world and experiencing new cultures all influences my sound and how it takes shape.
What’s your ideal vision for your music career when it comes to labels or dream gigs?
I really want to do what I love, which is making music and playing shows. Being happy doing what you love is the greatest happiness anyone can feel I believe. In other words, I do want to move from a DJ based setup to a full live show, but that’s still to come. I have a very large list of goal labels, but will keep those to myself as a personal challenge and you’ll be first to know about future releases.’
What would be your ideal collaboration?
I think it would be collaborating with my favorite influences and also friends to be honest (that’s an irreplaceable vibe). If I really have to name a few collaborators, I’d say it would be a dream to work with Fourtet, Floating Points, Elkka, Yu Su, Suchi, Nabihah Iqbal… there’s way too many names I follow and respect.
Outside of music we hear you’re inspired by art, tell us a little more.
Yeah! I have to give credit to my late father and my uncle (his brother). I grew up in a house of art collectors and lovers. I went to loads of art exhibitions, auctions, competitions early on. I grew up around art in many forms like paintings, sculptures, drawings and more. I am still a massive art fanatic, I actually create a lot of art myself and am inspired by many different forms of art. I will take anyone on a trip to a modern art museum, anywhere in the world.
You include nature and travels in a lot of your social media, does this mean you’re an adventure seeker or simply like to explore?
I am a curious mind. I always want to try something new and experience something I have never experienced before. Even if I fail at it, I can say I tried it out. I would also say I am a bit of both an adventure seeker at heart, and an explorer. I love adrenaline rushes, that’s definitely my thing.
What’s the story behind the title for your new single?
Hahaha, I just picked it out of the lyrics to be honest! Didn’t give it much thought early on but it really stuck and obviously sits within the theme. Looking back, the project name was originally “Detroit Beat” for a really long time. Song names are actually my worst skill. Don’t ask me to name your pet or children, I would literally have to pull up google for help.
You’ve supported a lot of heavyweight DJ’s, what’s your takeaway from featuring on massive line-ups?
A massive shazam list of music I have never heard! Seriously though, I love discovering new music and seeing peoples reactions. However, for me it is also appreciating the craft of other artists and seeing the real time reaction of their fans. I am always humbled to be sharing a lineup with all of these great artists whilst connecting with new fans. The thing that makes me the happiest is when I finish playing and people come up to me asking who I am and say, “Hey we’ve never heard of you, but that set was epic! Where is your next show?” This obviously inspires me to keep on thriving.
What’s something we don’t already know about Banksia?
Ooh! I am a pretty open book, let’s see… Oh, here is a good one… I really love cooking. If I didn’t pursue music, I think I would have gone to school to become a chef. When you’re next in San Francisco pop over for dinner.
Do you have any weaknesses you’re actively trying to improve?
Yeah, totally! I think musically I am trying to work on improving my arrangement skills, sometimes I get caught up in arrangements when Ive already nailed the vibe. I guess it’s simply searching for perfection and constantly evolving.
Which instrument or piece of studio kit is your current favourite and why?
I think my Rhodes 73. What a classic piano! I absolutely love it. The sound is so incredibly warm, it’s such a classic. I had always wanted to own one from a young age, growing up in Zambia I only saw it on a computer and pictures of it online. To finally be able to own one now is a dream come true, and a pleasure to play.
What is it about music that really engages you most?
For me it’s interesting drum beats and vibrant rhythms more than anything. I love when drums are seriously captivating. Check out DJ Plead, this guys a definitive master at making music out of drums. He makes melodic elements out of the tones… LIKE WTF! The guys a genius if you ask me.
What advice would you pass onto younger generations?
I know this is cheesy, but firstly never give up on whatever you are pursuing, even when things aren’t working out – just keep going!
Musically, make sure you learn the basics of mixing first. I think the mixing of a track starts with your sound selections. Every choice you make from the type of kick to the pad sound, to the hats you use, all plays part in the overall mix in my opinion.
What’s the best piece of advice another musician ever gave to you?
The best advice was that “the journey of music is a marathon and not a sprint.” It takes years of development, so be in it for the long haul.
Favourite food and how it makes you feel…
I would say Burmese food and also Ethopian food. They are balanced meals and everytime I eat them I instantly feel healthy inside.
Clothes maketh the man… sounds materialistic but are you into fashion?
I am, but I am very low key with my fashion taste and style. I always live by the adage, wear black t-shirts, pants with the bottom folded so they don’t touch my shoes. I aim to make a statement with my shoe choice. So simple on the top, smashing on the bottom half haha!
Where can we find you performing next?
So I will be in Vegas with Zouk for their underground branded party Moonbeam playing with Disclosure and then with Zhu. I will also be playing an unannounced show in San Francisco, I actually can’t say anymore just yet, but there’s a few more festivals and shows to announce very soon.
Any other releases in the pipeline that we should know about?
Yes, I’ve got some new EP’s in the works. Actually almost done with the first, with the second sitting close behind. Also a few remixes coming out on a legendary label that I can’t wait to share. Hint, they were instrumental in shaping rave culture.
Open plug, why should people support your new release?
To be honest, just so we can share art with one another. I will be so humbled by any and all support it always means a lot. Big ups and love in advance to everyone that is supporting so far <3