We caught up with Alfred Banks after his recent trip to Hamburg, Germany, where he went to do a showcase with Blut Audio and VW. He took some of our clothes and came back to fill us in on his travels and latest career moves:
I’m Alfred Banks, and I’m from the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve been doing music professionally since June 6th, 2009 -- about seven years now. I’ve put several projects out in the last seven years, and I’ve put out several singles as well.
I have a new album, it’s called The Beautiful, and it’s gonna be dropping top of the year 2017. I’m very excited about it. It’s a dope concept record. It talks about mental illness, it talks about my brother’s struggle with mental illness. It’s a big, epic project, and I’m very excited about it. My man CZA, he did the entire project. He did all the beats. I cannot wait for this thing to finally come out. It’s been two years in the making.
I’m currently working with NAMI, which is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, trying to create a partnership with them to really help spread the word. Obviously, I want the album to do well, but I also want to bring awareness to mental illness in the African American community. Especially through hip hop because it’s a real taboo topic, a lot of people don’t want to talk about it. It makes things awkward, and I want to face that awkwardness. This is something we need to discuss. People suffer with it, people go through it everyday, and we need to be more aware of that and figure out ways to help those people out. Even it is just in passing, we all need to help those people out.
I just took a trip to Hamburg, Germany, and it was incredible. Blut Audio flew me out, and it was so much fun. Good time to see Hamburg. There were a lot of things I didn’t know. In Hamburg there’s a street called Reeperbahn, which, I’m good, but it’s funny because prostitution is a job. They pay taxes. They have to go get checked up. So, it’s a job. It blew my mind. Everyone there speaks English. It’s the second language there, so everyone speaks English, and people are so nice, man. Another thing I noticed, is, right now there are a lot of racial issues in America and over there, there really isn’t. It’s not perfect heaven land by any means, but I never experienced in my week there, any instance of what I would experience normally here in America… The food was good, and the show was incredible. We had a Volkswagen press conference we performed at and it was really good. Made a lot of new fans.
It came about because of the commercial I did. Blut Audio contacted me to make me the face of the campaign they’re doing for this new car, the VW Polo Beats by Dre edition. The commercial came out, did really well online and Blut Audio decided to do a press conference to really spread the word about who they are and what they’re doing in conjunction with Volkswagen. So they brought me out to show that this is the guy we work with from America… It was a really good turn out, a really good time; I had a lot of fun, and it was really, really cool, man. They were really excited to have me there and they really liked the music.
I feel like I am the walking definition of “hard work pays off” because I didn’t come in the game with a big budget, I didn’t come in the game with a lot of connections, all I came with was a lot of optimism and raw talent. And, in seven years, I’ve been able to further what I’ve got and refine what I’ve got and been able to present myself to people, like DNO, and be like: hey, I’d like to work with you guys — and actually mean something when I say that.
So that’s just me in a nutshell. Keep what I’ve got going, spread the word, and meet new fans everyday. And, putting out quality music, and just seeing where that takes me.
A lot of the dream connections I’ve wanted on a personal level I’ve already had…I opened for Lupe Fiasco a few years ago. And his first album introduced me to a lot of hip hop I really love, so I got the opportunity to talk with him, so I said, “Yo, what you did really inspired me.” That was a dream come true. One of my other favorite rappers, Charles Hamilton… One of the biggest projects I ever put out, he debuted on his website. I’d been following him for about 9 years and he kind of shaped who I am as well… I got to open for the Wu Tang Clan at Howlin' Wolf a few years ago, so that was cool. I feel like I've accomplished a lot at such a young age.
At this point I'm looking forward to 2017. With everything I have planned, I cant wait to embark on the next phase of my career. I'm excited to see where things go!
-- Alfred wears the new DNO anorak