Q&A: BANNERS releases EP, says pandemic was most creative time of his life

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Michael Nelson, also known as BANNERS and for his hit song “Someone for youSat in a Toronto hotel room with questionable Wi-Fi for his interview with The Daily. Meanwhile, his music has over 1.5 billion streams worldwide and is featured in numerous TV shows, commercials, and movies.

Nelson recently left Liverpool – his childhood and pandemic home – to return to rehearse with his Toronto-based band in preparation for their tour, which Stop by The Chapel in San Francisco on November 5. The tour follows the release of their new EP, “It’ll be OK. “

The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

Stanford Daily [TSD]: How has your time at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral Choir influenced your musical work?

Michel nelson [MN]: For some reason, they needed someone in my school room to sing a solo dressed like an ox. It is surely a part of the Bible that escaped me; the part [laughs] where the ox gets up and sings well. But they auditioned everyone, and I don’t think my parents knew I could sing. I mean, I don’t know how good a 6 year old is, but I think I could hold a tune. So I was that lovely little angelic singing ox, and the music teacher there said I should audition for the Liverpool Cathedral Choir.

The Cathedral Choir is a pretty devoted thing. You can never let go of your focus, and you have to be very, very professional even from a young age, but it’s also incredibly beautiful music that involves singing with a choir of 36 people in this big, vast building. You really learn the beauty of music, but you also learn a real sense of dedication to it, and there is also something really beautiful about being able to do that in this building. Because it took 80 years to build the cathedral, and generations of builders built it, and now you are its custodian, and it’s your job to fill it with all the dedication you can to it. give, so when you go to concerts later in your life, you come up with the same mindset: do your best and be dedicated to it.

TSD: When did you decide “okay, let’s pursue this professionally”?

MN: Yeah, well, I’m really, really lucky because my dad is a record producer. So while I was in the Cathedral Choir, I also spent a lot of time in the recording studio. I was a little kid, I didn’t work there or anything like that.

The quality is so amazing that when you’re little – I don’t know how to describe it – it’s a very visceral experience to be in a recording studio. You don’t really know what’s going on, you just know it looks amazing and it’s really loud, and there’s all this gear that lights up, and you hang out with these bands, that’s just the coolest people. I remember standing there when I was little and just thinking, “I just need to spend my life here because it’s amazing.”

TSD: So you’re in the industry, now that you’ve launched this career, could you talk about a challenge you took on on this trip?

MN: Music is my main passion in my life. But there have been times when this has also been the reason for every element of stress in my life. When I started with that, things kind of sped up really quickly. You go from a point where you were just writing songs in your room to impress the girl or really just to do it because you’ve got it somewhere in your soul to all those record companies expressing interest in you and then you are signed very quickly. It’s completely exciting, but there isn’t really any preparation for it. It’s a really steep learning curve.

TSD: What do you think is one of your achievements that you are most proud of?

MN: If you had told me eight years ago that I would pay my bills, that I could put the heating in my house, and that I would do all that while playing music, I imagine that eight years ago Michael said, “Right? Well you have to do cartwheels all the time because it’s amazing. Now I’m trying to work harder to appreciate it all and remind myself, ‘You’re okay. ; you pay your bills and you make music, and that’s an amazing accomplishment in and of itself. Especially because I know that in five years if it all falls apart, I’ll be wishing I could live in the moment. I think that it’s an unfathomable thing to me that making music is my job, and I should enjoy it a lot more.

TSD: Your tour of America comes from your recent EP, “It’s Gonna Be Ok.” Can you explain this to me: the pandemic, the PE and now this tour?

MN: The EP was essentially the product of a year of Zoom writing sessions. And because I had all this help from my record company and my publisher, I was able to do writing sessions with people from all over the world that I hadn’t yet met. So actually, it was sort of the most creative time of my life because I didn’t have to fly to LA to write with people in LA. From a personal perspective, I’m pretty proud of myself for making it work, and I think everyone, regardless of their profession, must have made it work during this pandemic. And not even professionally, just life – anyone who’s been through it, and continues to go through it mentally, is fine.

TSD: I was browsing your Instagram, and I saw a bit of a story where you remembered an octopus lying on the pier in Liverpool, but no one else seemed to remember that octopus. What is the story behind this?

MN: So three of my best friends in Liverpool – my friends Ben, Tim and Paddy – I don’t really know why they ganged up on me like that, but they won’t be swayed. I told them once that there was an octopus on this Liverpool dock called Albert Dock – it’s this very nice old warehouse from the early 1900s; it was brilliant. And when we were kids, there was an octopus there. I remember there was a report, but my friends decided there never was an octopus, and they won’t listen to the meaning. So our friend Rory found the archives of the local newspaper, the Liverpool Echo, dating back to the 1960s. In the archives, he found the article that said there was an octopus. Sadly, Ben, Tim, and Paddy are determined that this is some kind of photoshop, so I think it’s going to continue, to be honest with you, buddy. I think it’s going to be my life’s work, and I don’t think I’ll ever, ever come out victorious, but it’s good to have a good project.

TSD: Is there something you always want to talk about but never get the chance to?

MN: We have a little cultural something in England where footballers are not allowed to be miserable, and they are not allowed to talk about their mental health issues because football is the dream job for almost everyone in England. And I think it’s really, really unfair, and it’s pretty ridiculous.

My job is not quite the same, but I find it hard to talk about having problems. So doing things like that is very therapeutic. I appreciate you talking to me, man.


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