After pressing play on one of Banfi’s old songs, I knew I’d probably like anything to come from the Wales-based project of Joe Banfi. And I was right. Luckily for me today, whilst the wild Irish wind threatens to blow my house away, I have a whole new album to listen to: Colour Waits in the Dark. Released via Kin Records, this is one you could spend days getting lost in – take a listen:
Currently residing on the Gower Peninsula, Joe Banfi recorded and produced Colour Waits in the Dark, before heading to Eastcote Studios in London to mix the record with founder of Kin Records Eliot James (Pêtr Aleksänder, Two Door Cinema Club, Noah & The Whale). And we have been gifted nine beautifully crafted songs which tell stories of time and nature, woven together with existential truths and emotions…
“…love and the passing of love among ancient things. Time and love entwined with the blood in the sky blessing my heart and the shells down on the beach that will go on sighing without me.
I’ve tried to voice a kind of void-fear amongst hope… John Keats’ gravestone (“Here lies one whose name was writ in water”) evokes a dread of time leaving each moment behind in a centreless dark, like goodbyes written on pages that’ll one day float away.
But then there are no real grounds for believing that an afterlife, or lack of one, is any more eternal or real than the fact that you have once existed and always will have, forever in the past. We tend to project our linear view of time onto death, and maybe that’s a mistaken view of the world. For me these answerless trails of thought create a flowing, bird-in-the-wind feeling of surrender to the force of time that I’ve tried to capture”.Joe Banfi
We got chatting to Joe Banfi to find out more about the album, his journey through music, and some of his favourite things…
Hey Joe! How’re you doing? Been filling the last few months of lockdown with lots of music making?
Very well, thanks. Yeah I’ve had a lot of time to potter with music. I’m in the middle of switching from Logic to Ableton which has been fun, and just listening out for new ideas… I’ve been hearing a lot of new song ideas in my sleep recently which is annoying. In the dream it’s someone else’s song, and I’m like “man, I wish I’d come up with that,” but then I wake up and realise it was a new idea. But then I can’t remember it. Damn.
Damn. Well, we’ve loved listening to your most recent releases, and your new album out today – congrats!! What has the process been like in creating this album, from the initial ‘oh, I could make an album’ moment to now?
I feel very lucky with how the process has gone – like there were lots of moments it would’ve collapsed but the right ideas came along just in time. It’s been different to past recordings because I produced and engineered this one myself, as well as the songwriting.
And the move in location from London to South Wales helped a lot too. The landscapes around where I live now have really found their way into the songs: when I listen to them I see all the bays around here at sunset and the Beacons, and the train stations.
The natural world really does shine through in the songs, it’s beautiful. Is there a particular message or subject running throughout?
I mostly sing about time, and the things caught inside it, coming to us before going away… very old things like the landscapes next to ephemeral things from my own life. My heart really resonates with the intermingling of those things – moments like when it’s September and I’ve still got sea water in my hair on a cold week-night with the sun just down and I’m walking out a petrol station with two hot drinks noticing the brilliant sky running out of light.
We know you’ve written and produced the album isolated in Wales. Do you work better in isolation?
Not always. I love collaboration and didn’t deliberately hide myself away… it just naturally came about that way. With previous Banfi EPs I collaborated a lot with Aaron Graham. He’s incredible to work with and full of beautiful ideas. He’s also a media composer and often goes through very busy periods with that work, so this album became something I did alone, but that’s not to say it will always be that way.
So, what’s next for you now that Colour Waits in the Dark is out in the world?
Album 2! I’m just preparing myself for it now – trying to get better at my instruments, filling my lyric books, learning more production, and then I’m sure it’ll grab hold of me and take me on that journey.
Woohoo! We’ll be enjoying this album for a while to come, but will be eagerly awaiting your next chapter. Taking a step back, when and where did the musical project Banfi begin?
I started recording songs with a producer called Ian Grimble around 2012. That led to me releasing music with Communion Records, first under my name Joe Banfi and then it became just Banfi. Then I worked with the producer Eliot James and we really clicked. He’s a good friend now, so I was delighted when he wanted to mix this album, and release it through his label Kin Records.
And who/what inspires you?
The album So had a big influence on me, and Hounds of Love. I hear Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush in the modern artists I love to listen to now like the Erased Tapes artists (Ryan Lee West in particular, and Ben Lukas Boysen’s new album is really special).
When I was younger I read a lot of Cormac McCarthy – his writing about landscapes and moments of the human heart has always stayed with me. And I think that led me to poets like Dylan Thomas, Vernon Watkins, Robinson Jeffers, and writers like Virginia Woolf and John Steinbeck.
Have you always wanted to be a musician? Or were there other career paths you were thinking of pursuing? You know… astronaut, marine biologist, etc etc
The film Apollo 13 put me off being an astronaut… they didn’t look very cool in those big white suits did they. If they’d dressed in black I might’ve been tempted. Although when I was little my parents used to take me to this medieval fair in Dorset… there was always an evil black knight in the jousting competition and my mum says I used to shout at him from the audience. Things like “Stop that! You’re a naughty man! Just stop it!”. She said one year we got asked to leave because I wouldn’t leave this black knight alone. I think I would’ve made a good jouster – I’ve wanted to be all sorts of things.
We think you would’ve been a great jouster too! I like to ask this question, as much as people hate answering it (sorry!) – if you could describe your sound for those who haven’t heard you before, what would you say?
Yeah sure. I’d say it’s a blend of moody dream-pop with electronic music (by electronic I mean stuff more like Rival Consoles and Enya… the kind of sound Gabriel and Bush started, rather than the more techo based stuff). I’ve veered from that in the past sometimes, but only when a song really demanded it. There were songs like “Caroline” and “Rosedale House” that don’t fit what I think my sound is, but I love those songs and I think they deserved to be given whatever they needed in order to come about.
Now to give us some insight into your favourite things: al la Desert Island Disks, if you could take only one book, one song, and one luxury item to a desert island, what would they be?
Book – To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (I’d pretend the lighthouse was near the island). Song – This is The Sea by The Waterboys (if I was going to be surrounded by sea water everyday). Luxury item – a Korg Minilogue with headphones (if it could be battery powered with a lifetime supply of batteries).
Finally, we were hoping you’d give us a few songs you love and tell us briefly why you’ve chosen them?
Songs that are dearest to me remind me of my partner Erin.
Onward, Mark Kozelek
Take It With Me, Tom Waits
That’s Life Tho or Blackberry Song, Kurt Vile
Beautiful selection! Thank you for this lovely chat, and congrats again on the album release. Keep well Joe!
You too. Thanks very much for your support.
Follow Banfi through the links below: