Emerging artists from the North of England have wasted no time in putting themselves at the forefront of the UK music scene this year. And the latest rapper to turn heads across the country is Trafford's very own, Just Banco. Since his most recent release, he has become a familiar name on Spotify playlists - including euro playlist Cloud Rap and Rap UK - and he's even found a fan in Stormzy who publicly showed support for the 'Soo Yung' video release earlier this year.
Manchester born and bred, Banco is suspiciously vague about the story behind his alias, teasing"my friends already called me Banco before I made music, due to a money situation which occurred in Spain... and then I added 'Just' at the start because that's me - Just Banco. Nothing more, nothing less."
Something that caught on from the 'Can't Stay' video is the use of the eerie flu masks. Now a key part of his signature style,"The day I released that first song was the day my musical journey began. But I wouldn't say I took music seriously until June this year because that's when I released my first video for 'Can't Stay' - and that changed everything." Surfing through Soundcloud, 'Overdose' is listed as the first track released by Just Banco about a year ago. "It was actually my idea to have everyone wearing flu masks, it just went hand in hand with the whole 'trapanese' theme. I've seen a few artists do it in their videos since then... but it’s all good!"
"MY MUSICAL INFLUENCES CONSIST OF THE MOST RANDOM SOUNDCLOUD ARTISTS"
Aside from the music, Banco's visual branding is on lock - from his artwork graphics to the general aesthetics of his Instagram."I definitely spend a lot of time working on my branding and the visual aspect of things. It's usually a collaborative thought process from myself, Only One Mono - who has done all of my artwork - and my cousin Nulwave."
The 23-year-old has become well known for his references to Asian culture which are apparent throughout his music videos and on his social media. "I draw a lot of inspiration from Chinese and Japanese culture, which we call 'trapanese'. You can also hear Chinese influences on the production of my songs because my producer Just Loco tends to find old chinese samples and recreate them with a trap vibe."
As the latest breaking act to put his own twist on autotune rap, Banco talks us through his creative process."Most of my music is produced by Just Loco and K Tokyo, a Manchester based producer. All of my recording is done at Room 10 and mixed and engineered by Two4Kay, also a Manchester based artist and producer." It's certainly refreshing to see young artists breaking through with the confidence to experiment and be original with their music."My influences vary from the most random soundcloud artists with as little as five plays... to artists like Erykah Badu. It's a wide variation of waves and sounds!"
"I NEVER REALLY THOUGHT MY MUSIC SUITED UK MUSIC CHANNELS"
The recent video for "Soo Yung" caught the attention of many new fans and is a masterpiece in itself. The camera follows Banco through town as night falls; on the roads with the gang, stocking up on Asian condiments from the corner shop and bathing in the red light of his local chinese takeout. And there's no shortage of originality - from ski masks to flu masks, the video oozes edge."I’ve directed all of my videos myself up until now but the filming and editing is done by Oliver Brian Productions who are a Sheffield based company with very sick team."
It's also the first video uploaded to Just Banco's personal YouTube channel, contrary to 'Can't Stay' which was released via SBTV. "I originally never wanted to put 'Can't Stay' on SBTV - Noisey was always my first choice but I had no access to them. I knew Oliver Brian Productions had filmed videos for SBTV in the past and they had access to Jamal, so I just thought why not? I never really thought my image and music suited the UK music channels and once putting 'Can't Stay' on SBTV I received a lot of messages saying my music would be better suited in America, which confirmed my guesses that maybe my target audience is a bit different."
There's no doubt Just Banco's unique and creative sound will continue to reach listeners across the globe - and with the promise of some Z Dot-produced joints in the pipeline, there's plenty more to look forward to.
Watch the 'Soo Yung' video below: