Exclusive: Remy Banks on Snoop, Weed and Snoop Again
These days the realm of hip hop has been expanding further and further and now every town has their own scene. Every week there’s someone new on Soundcloud or Bandcamp throwing together beats and repping their city. However, the NY scene seemed to be strangely lacking. Earlier this year, we got to sit and talk with NY based rap group Ratking, who were out to change that, and when they mentioned Queens based rapper Remy Banks, we had to see what was up.
Remy Banks is the kind of calm, cool, collected stoner whose lyrics make you want to bob your head and chill. He’s up for anything, which is clear by all of his collabs, from Ratking to Earl Sweatshirt, who he’s on tour with right now. Last week, Milk Made’s Jordan Mack got to sit with him for an afternoon before he dropped higher., his first full length album, at his listening party. They talked about everything, from how much he loves Snoop Dogg, to his pre show routine, to hanging out with A$AP Mob at Milk Studios three years earlier.
So tonight is the listening party for ‘higher.,’ your first studio album. What was your goal going into the album?
Well my goal going in was…sorry, it’s been a while. I started working on it in 2013, so from then to now, I’ve been traveling and touring and going through things, learning a lot from everything. I feel like it’s my diary to the world about who I am and my self improvement. The message with it, I think, is to encourage people to go out and see the world, challenge themselves. Be better.
So how are you feeling for the listening party?
Oh, I’m nervous man. It’s like releasing my baby to the world, you know? Plus, my mom’s gonna be at the party, which is awkward. I decided that this is the night that I’m gonna officially come out to my mom about smoking weed. [laughs]
Do you have any kind of pre show routine for nerves?
Let’s see, pre show routine? What do I do before a show? First, make sure I’m showered. No one likes it when a rapper’s all hyped, and then they throw their arms up and it’s like ‘Oh shit, put them down!’ [laughs]. And then I have a blunt before I get on stage, and I always make sure to have one blunt rolled for my smoke break during the show. If I’m not high on stage, I’m awkward. The weed just soothes me out so I can just perform. That’s it though.
Who’s one person you need to smoke with?
Snoop, end all be all. I need to smoke with Uncle Snoop. Also, I just have to say, it’s really weird being in this room right now because I came to Milk once before with A$AP Mob for a music video they were doing. I think it was ‘Bath Salts,’ maybe? It definitely was, because Flatbush was here too.
We were literally in this room, just chilling, eating. Rocky did his scene right in that corner chair! Wow, this is so weird man. I was just like hanging in the background. I remember, Rocky was mad late so we smoked probably a hundred blunts waiting for him. [laughs] Literally a hundred.
What’s a crazy story that’s happened to you on tour?
One time, I was doing a midwest tour and the whole time I was playing new joints at my shows. In Detroit we did ‘n1go’, which hadn’t dropped yet and the crowd just went crazy. They didn’t even know the lyrics! They just went off the sound. The stage started shaking and I forgot some words, so I thought fuck it and I just jumped out into the crowd for a second. It felt amazing.
After this you’re gonna be on tour with Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples, who are both very West Coast guys, but you rep Queens really hard, so what is it like working with them?
Earl is very influenced by East Coast rap, especially shit that I grew up on. Stuff that I grew up listening to also trickled down to the West Coast. He knows Infamous line for line. Vince is super Cali, but you can tell he’s up on East Coast because his lyricism and his flow is so unique. All good rappers have to have a mix from both. You can be repping somewhere, but you still need to know what’s going on in all the other parts. That’s what really makes a good rapper.
Who’s the biggest West Coast rapper to influence you?
Definitely Snoop. I clearly just love Snoop. That was the first West Coast hip hop that I was introduced to as a kid. I still know ‘Gin and Juice’ by heart! Plus, that guy is just living the most baller life. I want to be at the point where I’m high all the time and people know it and no one cares, you know? He hasn’t bought weed in like, at least 20 years, I promise you. That’s really the life. You go and you work on your music during the day, and knowing him, he could just smoke in the studio, smoke in his cabs.
How do you think the rap you grew up with affected you, and how do you think the scene is changing?
Back then, everything was word of mouth. Video Music Box was the big channel for hip hop and music videos. I got introduced to Wu Tang through there. Everyone had Nas and Jay Z blasting from their windows. They were just neighborhood dudes. I remember I was the biggest Jay-Z fan when I was in elementary school because my cousins would tell me about it. Now it’s all the Internet, word of mouth doesn’t exist. Everything is blogs and views now. I feel like that took away from the fun, and even the authenticity of it. I mean, I guess it’s a gift and a curse. Before it was a slow build, but now I can drop something and people in Australia have heard it. It’s a gift and a curse.
If I looked through your recently played stuff on iTunes, what would I be the most surprised to see?
That can vary a lot. Slipknot, Korn, 311, King Krule. I need a different sound for my different moods. Sometimes I just need yelling and screaming from Korn, but I can also fuck with Ratking real hard. It’s like a spectrum. I listen to a little bit of everything. I blame MTV for that, well when they actually played music videos.
You were a fashion student right? What are your brands right now?
Yeah, I was, but I don’t really follow much of the high end stuff anymore. It gets too confusing sometimes, but I really love what Kenzo is doing right now. I’m an OG Bape fan. That’s my brand. Even though it’s not a big fashion brand, there’s a lot of brand loyalty.
So is there a Remy Banks line coming up?
[laughs] Of course, of course. I’d love to do a line, but realistically, I’m a rapper first. I want to focus on that, and maybe once I feel like I can just do a line, it’ll come. I’d probably name it something sweet, like after my first child or something. I like casual, but I definitely have an eye for color and garments.
Is there anything else you wanna tell Milk Made readers?
Shouts out to Milk and I’m waiting for my Fashion Week invite! [laughs]
Listen to or download ‘higher.’ here
Photography by Zach Wolfe