Updated: Oct 20, 2020
Straight out of South Carolina, Kobe Banks, is staying busy during the quarantine by crafting his own blend of nostalgic lo-fi. His newest project, Internal Excursions is low-key popping off. Out from the depths of Soundcloud's underground, Banks is holding onto a treasury of steezy instrumentals, don't sleep.
Over the past five years, Banks has really honed into his craft. Another hip hop head itching to get his own groove out into the universe. With a unique palette for samples, Banks cleverly finds ways to spice up his beats with smooth strings or dusty drum loops. With cloudy bops like "Heavenly Lo-fi is Hi-fi" to greasy slappers like "Hidden Lair", Banks has anyone fiending for their next head knocker fully covered.
We had the opportunity to catch up with Kobe shortly after the release of his most recent project.
Here's what he had to say:
Q: Could ya give us a bit of your background as an artist? You’re from South Carolina right?
A: Yeah, I’m from Greenville, South Carolina. I’ve been making beats now for probably around five years. I was uploading music to Spotify and other streaming services under the name Banks at first, but then the bigger artist BANKS had contacted me, asking me to change my now. So I had to delete all my music and start over again.
Q: Did you have to change the style of music you were making at the time, or was it more of a name change?
A: No, I just had to change my name, but then again what came with that was I couldn’t re-upload the old music I had. Yea, they were probably gonna sue me or something like pay an amount of money, so I just avoided all that by deleting it.
Q: Is SoundCloud currently where you release most of your music?
A: Nah, the main platforms I use are Spotify and Apple Music. I just use SoundCloud to upload other fun stuff or to see what tracks are popping enough to upload to Spotify or Apple Music.
Q: Have you been able to collaborate with many people by using Spotify or Apple Music?
A: Yea, I collabed with a guy on my last beat tape named DJ Grumble and he makes a bunch of lo-fi hip hop music. It’s like 90’s style boombap hip hop. It’s really fire. Also my buddy Grant who's also from South Carolina, I collab with him a lot. But yeah, that last collab with DJ Grumble was a banger.
Q: Have you been able to play any concerts yet or do you mainly consider yourself more of a bedroom producer?
A: A bedroom producer (laughs) I usually just produce in my bedroom at home or in my dorm room when I’m at college.
Q: So what initially drove you to become a producer?
A: Back when I was in high school, I was probably 14 or 15 years old and I was listening to Logic a lot and 6ix’s production... a lot of his beats, especially “The Incredible True Story”. So yeah that somewhat got me into production, but then I listened to Jaeden Camstra and his debut EP, Nimbus.
That really got me into lo-fi music and then I downloaded GarageBand on my iPhone because that’s all I had at the moment. I was cooking up beats on that until I got a computer and downloaded FL and all that.
Q: Did FL cause any sort of creativity explosion when you first got it, or was it a learning process?
A: Oh yeah. At the time I thought I could only make beats a certain way, but once I got out of that mind state I started making a lot more beats since I didn’t burn out of creativity. I just forced myself to make beats different ways and it helped a lot.
I’ve done that all through quarantine and I’ve probably made around 50 to 100 beats just by switching up the variety of how I actually tackle the creative process. Yeah, I’ve been doing that from March until July.
Q: Do you like experimenting with samples or do you like making your own Midi patterns?
A: Oh I always use samples, but sometimes every now and then I’ll experiment with Midi. I usually always roll with samples though.
Q: Do you have any favorite samples you’ve used in your tracks?
A: Oh, that’s hard. Probably some J-pop, some Japanese pop like Junko Ohashi. Her sample on "Telephone Numbers" is one of my favorites. Even though I used that sample in earlier music, when I didn’t know anything about FL. That was probably my favorite sample to flip, or some Erykah Badu.
Well then yeah I guess my favorite groups to sample are Junko Ohasi, Erykah Badu, Wes Montgomery, Earl Garner, but then there’s also a bunch of hidden gems on Youtube that people just upload.
Q: Your most popular track, “Metropolis” was recently about a month ago and it seems to be gaining traction faster than your other tunes. Did you do anything different for this release in terms of getting it out there?
A: Yeah, I submitted it to some bloggers through SubmitHub. I think that was it. I might have sent it to some followers on Instagram to get on their Spotify playlists, but for SoundCloud I just used SubmitHub and it blew up the plays on that.
Q: Do you enjoy making beats for yourself or would you want to collaborate with rappers in the future?
A: I feel like the answer’s both even though it’s not really that kind of question. I really do want to collaborate with rappers and other beat makers but I also want to grow on myself and my craft. As of right now I’m just working on bettering myself, but yeah I’d like to collaborate with people in the future. I just want to keep making beat tapes and releasing them independently.
Q: Do you charge people for your beats, if anyone wants to use them for a track?
A: I never really got into that. I don’t upload beats to Youtube often, but I’ve tried. I‘ve sold to a few people in the past, but I’ve never put beats out there to sell.
It’s like if I put beats out there, I want people to listen to them without rappers over them. It’s just a relaxing thing, ya know. Nothing else should go over the track, unless I put out a beat pack. I was thinking about putting out a few beat packs for free or something, but as of now I haven't put anything out like that to the public.
(Spenser) Yeah, sounds like that’s a whole other type of adventure to get into.
(Kobe) Yeah, plus you have to know how to get into it and do it right.
Q: What was the recording process like for your most recent release, “Internal Excursion”.
A: For that beattape, I just wanted to get a more Kendrick Lamar, Section 80’s vibe to it or Under Pressure, Logic vibe. It’s full of very nostalgia-like beats, but yeah I would go through some samples. Grumble and Grant would send me samples while I went onto Youtube looking for music.
I made that tape within three months, but I was making it before I got my other music deleted on my old page. I was actually making it for my older page, but it still turned out pretty good because I can put out music on this new page faster.
Q: Have you thought about making physical releases for your tapes, like actual cassettes?
A: Yes, I’ve thought about that a lot. I have a buddy named AJ who does that and said he could help me make cassettes. I would just have to figure out how to get them out there as well, so I don’t really want to do any yet. I was going to make an Instagram post just to see who’d be interested in it, but as of now I haven't put much thought into it.
Q: Are you still cooking up beats, fresh after releasing your latest project?
A: Oh yeah whenever I put out a tape, I’ll already be working on the next one a week later. I’m always trying to brainstorm and come up with new tracks.
I also go to Winthrop University also and I’m trying to do some things here at the school, like little gigs or something if they allow it. I don't know if that’d be an issue with all the CoronaVirus stuff going on. Might have to wait it out and play it by ear.
Q: Any last words, or advice for upcoming beat makers?
A: Just stay patient with everything, nothing clicks really fast. I’ve learned that myself. Even though I’m still here constantly working, I’m certified underground. Nothing’s gonna come in the blink of an eye. Things take time. I’ve been doing this for like five years and I’m still waiting, finding some patience.