Despite only arriving on our radar a few years back, London-based DJ/producer and label owner Charlie Banks already boasts a resume that most of his peers would be incredibly proud of. First coming to prominence off the back of his most-excellent Flight Mode EP (released via Archie Hamilton’s Moscow label), he’s since gone from strength-to-strength, with releases for the likes of Okain’s Talman Records solidifying his reputation as a producer to keep a keen eye out for. A real DJ’s DJ, he’s already being trumped in influential circles, with podcasts for Trommel and LWE enhancing his reputation as a DJ alongside his production skills.
As busy as he’s ever been and with plenty more on the horizon, we checked in recently with Charlie to discuss his year so far, his plans for his excellent label, Disculture, as well as his hopes and dreams for the months ahead…
Great to chat to you, Charlie. Can you please start a bit by telling us a bit about how you got into electronic music in the first place? What parties and DJs influenced you when you were starting out?
Hey guys, thanks a lot for having me. I got into electronic music at the age of 15 through my older brother who introduced me to the likes of Justice, Daft Punk and the Ed Banger Records crew from Paris. I then ended up going to a festival near to where I grew up called Camp Bestival that summer watching a number of different DJs I had been listening to at home. I came back fully inspired and got my first set of decks for my 16th birthday – I was totally hooked from then on.
That same time actually I started sneaking into clubs using my older brother’s ID and would regularly go out in Bournemouth and check out such a wide range of DJs.
Although I grew up just outside of town, Bournemouth was the place i first cut my teeth as a DJ and being a relatively small town I got to know all the local promoters and supported a number of big names in my late teens/early twenties including Jamie Jones, The Martinez Brothers, Dyed Soundorom, Maya Jane Coles which was pretty sick!
You started DJing professionally quite young: I read that you made your debut at Glade at 19. How do you look back on those times? Is there anything you’d change about them?
I wouldn’t say I was a professional back in those days but I was lucky enough to play some amazing shows. Glade was my first proper festival set. I ended up playing for about 3 hours and It’s one of those sets I’ll never forget.
I look back on that period of my life with fond memories as I didn’t have any worries and spent the whole time djing, partying and making music. It was also around the same time I did my first season in Ibiza which helped massively with meeting like minded people and networking with bigger artists.
Were you producing for a long time up until that point? With hindsight, did you feel ready for what was to come? Or could you ever be properly ‘prepared’ for what was ahead of you?
I had been producing for a couple of years previous but I still wasn’t fully where I wanted to be yet. I was still trying to work out my sound and what direction I wanted to take things in. In those years I was listening to so many different styles of electronic music and was inspired by lots of different things so it took a little while to know exactly what route I wanted to go down.
I think my real break didn’t really happen for a number of years later when I released my ‘One Morning in Staines’ EP on Moss Co. (now MicroHertz). After years of honing my production skills that release was the point I was like, yeah I’m happy with my music.
In that sense, did you have a mentor to guide you through it all? In a scene that can obviously be fairly hedonistic, how important do you think it is to have people like this in your corner?
I never really had a mentor as such but there’s a few people in the Bournemouth scene that would give me advice in particular Sam & Alex aka Zoo Look although their sound is slightly different to mine, they were a few years older than me and helped massively in those early years. So a massive shout to those guys.
Leading on from my last question, do you feel it’s important to impart your wisdom to up-and-coming producers and DJs? Is there anyone you think we should look out for who you’d like to put a spotlight on?
100% I am always happy to give advice to younger producers trying to break through, I think it’s really important.
There’s so many producers I’m rating highly at the moment if I had to name a couple; Wilda, Daan Steenman & Rupert Ellis are all smashing it. Also go and check out Ion Pananides. I actually saw him play at Ibiza Underground a few weeks ago, unreal.
Do you ever feel pressure with releasing music for big labels such as PIV, Moscow etc? In terms of getting your music signed, how does the process usually work?
I’ve always been a massive overthinker and am guilty of putting too much pressure on myself. It’s something I’m trying really hard not to do and just going with the flow with a bit more.
In terms of getting signed to labels I think it’s really important to build a relationship with them first. Once you establish this it is so much easier to get your music heard by them once you have stuff to send over.
I also wanted to ask about your own label. What’s the thinking behind the name, Disculture? Is it something to do with the label’s dedication to wax? ie. discs?
I’m running the label with a good friend of mine Fred Parry and it was an idea conceived like most good ideas on the dancefloor – pretty sure it was ADE 2019! When we got back to London we started brainstorming and to be honest the name has no real meaning we just thought it sounded good and it stuck with us.
In terms of creating an identity with the label, can you talk us through the label’s philosophy as well as your plans for it? The artwork is really consistent and awesome, for example…
We always wanted to create a label with a strong identity. I think a sound is slowly starting to build and hopefully you can hear this throughout all the releases so far.
We’ve got an amazing designer on board and we both absolutely love the artwork. We want the label to not only have great music but also an incredible visual element to it as well.
What does it take to get a record signed to the label? Is it important you have a personal relationship with the artists you sign?
First and foremost it is about the music. We have always had a strong belief that it doesn’t matter where in the world you are from, we just want to put out incredible tunes no matter who you are, where you’re from or how big your following is. We always want to stick to this.
Finally can you tell us what you have in store release wise and plans for yourself in the coming year?
I have another release coming on Disculture very soon. I’m sat on loads of music at the moment i’m just trying to work out what to do with them all.
I’ll be out in Ibiza this weekend playing at Octan, so hit me up for a guestlist spot if you fancy it 😉 I’ve also got some wicked other dates in the pipeline including some more dates in South America too which will be announced soon.