Having lived in several countries, Empty Banks (EB) has experienced many cultures. In fact, he experiences even more living the digital nomadic life. A life on the road contributes to an open-mindedness (or at least we hope) with a lot of canvas on which to paint. Speaking about his latest track ‘Objective Views’ and other stuff, here is a quick chat with this talented artist.
OSR: It’s a rather cliché question, but it’s a good one to begin with. How did you come up with the alias Empty Banks?
EB: I think of the body as the bank of the soul. Think of people walking around just as hollow shells (empty banks) because of the way people or things or life in general have torn and pulled out so many pieces of them. Not everyone is so broken, but if we think of everyone as having some sort of internal struggle, no matter how they are acting on the outside, maybe more empathy and compassion and understanding for others would come through. It just might help to make the world a better place.
OSR: What prompted you to enter the music industry?
EB: Communication is so complex and music is just something that just makes sense to me in those terms. You can take simple, complex, difficult or informative ideas and make them easy for people to absorb through music. What I believe to be an effect of the way artists can communicate ideas is that I feel like I’ve seen entire lifestyles built around music. Some say it may be a uniform of sorts, but you see commonalities in the way people dress and act and the work people do who listen to similar styles of music. There are very few things that are that powerful.
OSR: You recently released a single called ‘Objective Views’. What can you tell me about its inception and the concept?
EB: I wrote Objective Views about eight years ago and it was really the beginning of this shift in me. I was looking at myself and how I viewed people and the world around me as I was trying so hard to figure out why I just wasn’t happy. Maybe certain things weren’t going well in my life, maybe these people didn’t treat me well, maybe whatever. I realised that no matter the situation, I was going into it with the attitude that whatever it was was out to get me. Writing this song was the beginning of this shift in me to see things in a more open and accepting light.
OSR: What was the recording process like for ‘Objective Views’?
EB: Here’s a shout out to Shadow Scape Records in Kansas City because they made the recording process so smooth. With ‘Where We Go’ and ‘Objective Views’ being my first two singles as a solo artist, I needed creativity coming from an objective point of view since I perform simply with an acoustic and voice. They brought it to life and really delivered.
OSR: What is your favourite lyric from ‘Objective Views’ and why that line?
EB: “I’m looking forward to the side effect of letting go of the pre-made way”
It’s a very all-encompassing statement about being at the shifting point in my life to see things in a different way and be excited about the future.
OSR: How do you feel ‘Objective Views’ differs from your previous release ‘Where We Go’ if it differs at all?
EB: Written from my subjective point of view, the messaging of the two songs is very different. One is more about social issues and the other is more about social relationships; however, ironic as it may be, I like to write vaguely about a specific subject or issue in my head. I want anyone to be able to look at each song objectively and parallel it to their own life. I don’t want my point of view clouding their interpretations so that hopefully they can apply the messaging in a way that can help them in their own life
OSR: What do you think makes you unique as an artist?
EB: I’m not any more or less special or unique than anyone else. I want to do good in the world, but I think to some level, small or large, everyone does. Like many, I write songs about my experiences and opinions on love and social issues, but in both cases, I just hope people can hear my side and think of things slightly differently. I’m not unique or special, I just know what I want and go for it with everything in me. I hope I can inspire others to do the same.
OSR: What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of being an independent artist?
EB: As an independent artist, you don’t have support. There are lots of aspects to this, but a very basic one is money. It’s difficult to know that every decision you make will affect the money you make and lose when you don’t have much to start out with. It makes you very sceptical and worrisome whether the decisions you’re making are the right ones. At the same time, you have to give yourself enough opportunities for exposure. Every opportunity comes from you and the positions you put yourself in, so it’s challenging to know whether I’m making the right decisions with no support.
OSR: What about the most exciting aspect of being an independent artist?
EB: I can’t explain how fun and exciting the journey is. Of course, we all want to “make it”, but to be able to look back and see how incredible every aspect of how you got there is indescribable. To be able to look back at the low points and hard times and say that you pushed and pushed and made it through them is one of the best feelings.
OSR: You’ve embraced the digital nomad lifestyle. How do you feel travelling influences your music?
EB: Inevitably, just like everyone does, I’ve had preconceived biases of the world ingrained in my head by the education system, media and people around me about the world. It’s no fault to me or them, it’s just something that happens, but travel has helped me remove those preconceived ideas and see the world through more objective eyes. Doing so has made me so much more open to love and new ideas and that’s what I write about. ‘Objective Views’ is about exactly that and that’s where a lot of my writing has come from, being able to see things in a more open light.
OSR: Lockdown must be torture for a digital nomad. How are you handling self-isolation and what do you recommend people do to “stay sane” during the lockdown?
EB: Everyone had a passion at one point in their life, maybe you wanted to be a business owner, maybe you loved playing the recorder in primary school, whatever it was right now is the time to just do it. Eventually, we’ll go back to our jobs and our lives, but right now is the time to play that instrument, develop a business plan, come up with a strategy to go for the things you want. Normal life will resume and that’s fine, but whether it’s just for fun or for serious, why not just see if there’s a future in something you had dismissed as hobby.
OSR: How important do you think busking is to gain experience as a musician?
EB: I don’t think busking is extremely important or necessary to gain experience as a musician as there are so many ways to go about creating and progressing in music, but it’s fun and I do recommend it. Those who do it though know how much it can help you grow as a musician. If it scares you, do it! Busking scares me every time I go out, but every time is different and teaches something new about playing and performing.
OSR: You have already released two tracks this year. What else can we expect from Empty Banks for the rest of 2020?
EB: Right now, a lot of things are on pause with this pandemic happening, but I’m doing some live streaming like many artists are right now. There are also some other very exciting things in the works right now and I hope everyone will keep up with me to see what is going on. I can’t express how exciting and bright the future looks and I hope everyone will come along with me for this ride.
OSR: What message would you like to give your fans and potential fans?
EB: I’ve been scared to just go for my dreams and wasted a long time just thinking about them. I was too scared to even create social media pages for myself. I don’t know what I was scared of, failure or rejection or whatever it was, I came to the realisation that I don’t have anything to lose. I can go on just existing in the dull whatever life that I am in, or I can go for it and try get somewhere to do what I love to do. The absolute worst thing that could happen is that I’m in the same place as before. The message I have would be to just go for whatever it is that you’re passionate about, what makes you scared and excited. It’s too cliche, but it’s so true that it just isn’t work if you absolutely love what you’re doing. So even if not 100% all in, why not just give it a shot to go for what you love?