Banshee Sings Her Sirencore Song For the World to Hear in 'BIRTH OF VENUS' [Q&A]
Rising musician Banshee tackles themes of predatory behavior and misogyny in her new album BIRTH OF VENUS, a seven-track collection of empowering electronic-laced anthems that aim to be a voice for women’s safety at clubs, shows, and the world at large.
As someone who experienced abuse and sexual assault while playing in bands in her local music scene, the album holds a deeply personal significance to musician Rachel Knight who, under her musical moniker, has delivered a reflective collection of music that strikes a chord with women everywhere. Having earned acclaim with her 2022 debut album, Banshee has carved a space for herself as an LGBTQ+ icon and musician, winning our hearts with boldness and vulnerability in equal parts.
Ones To Watch had the chance to chat with the rising star about the record's creation, what advice she'd give to people searching for strength, and her hopes for the future.
Ones To Watch: Can you explain the meaning behind the record's title and how its symbolism bleeds through the record as a whole?
Banshee: BIRTH OF VENUS represents my personal renaissance. I grew up playing in metal bands and left my local metal scene due to assault and abuse. I started producing music on my own and experimenting with electronic styles. I became mesmerized by early house music and its history, which saw itself as a rebirth of disco music. I was pulling myself out of the dark ages and on a path to carve out my own sound.
Tell us about the beginning stages of the project. Did you set out with the intention to make a record, or was it a more coincidental creation project?
World-building is the most important part of creating an album to me. Each album is a different world. I planned out the concept, sound, and visuals for BIRTH OF VENUS based on the world in my head. Each song was made in context, with a particular purpose.
Your 'Sirencore' sound is one of the most unique things I've ever heard in my fucking life. Where do you pull influences from, and how did you develop such a unique sound?
Thank you! I've loved sirens and mermaids since I was pretty much born, and the ocean holds a big place in my heart. My witch house influence really peeks through in BIRTH OF VENUS—but in my mind, witch house takes place in a forest, and I imagined this taking place in a big dark ocean. Sirencore is the rage of the sea.
What was the most challenging aspect of making this record? Was the process different at all from your last record, FAIRY METAL?
I was really particular about the sounds I used on each song, because I wanted to highlight the similarities between metal and house music, even though they sound totally different. Trap and hip-hop always sound beautiful when blended with metal, which made Fairy Metal so special. BIRTH OF VENUS is like a Venn diagram of metal and house.
You talk about a lot of weighty topics across this body of work, especially sexism, assault, and misogyny. How do you find the strength to dive into such deep vulnerability, and do you have any advice for others who want to find that same bravery within themselves?
As uncomfortable as it is for me to talk about, it hurts more to stay silent. I do it for my past selves, who blamed every assault on herself for not screaming and fighting back hard enough. I just got sick of not saying anything. I find it hard to talk or write about my experiences, so I use mythology and folklore to help me tell my story. I think vulnerability becomes easier when you find an outlet that feels right, where you don't judge yourself. It's like giving yourself a safe space to let go.
Cliche question, but what is your favorite song on BIRTH OF VENUS?
Cliche answer, but it's "BIRTH OF VENU"! It's a retelling of the Birth of Venus myth from the female gaze, giving Venus a voice and agency in her own story. I've found so much healing through my voice. It is an incantation for strength and breaking silence. It's everything that Sirencore represents.
What is your favorite music moment from the album?
"Your secrets were never safe with me, when I scream the sea/sky is listening." This line is the essence of Banshee. I will never be silenced again.
What would you like to experiment more with in the future?
I want to do pop music! I love how it can take on almost any sonic identity. I want to bring screaming into pop music.
What's one thing you're looking forward to doing in the remainder of 2023?
I'm so excited for fall! It's my favorite time to make music, shoot for visuals, and explore the outdoors. I've been world-building all summer, and fall is the perfect time to bring it to life.
If you could give a piece of advice to your past self, what would you say?
There's literally no rules to anything, just do what you want and don't think too much!!
Do you have a message for the fans that might be reading this article?
As a survivor, it's so important to have community. I'm blessed with a community of people who not only believe and support me but also each other and other survivors. They've created something really meaningful. If you're reading this, thank you for everything.
Banshee's BIRTH OF VENUS is available now.