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Coming "Awake"

An interview with Singer-Songwriter, Von Banke by Elizabeth Harris

Yasmin 'Von Banke' Kurth a singer-songwriter based in Dublin photographed by Stefany Trianoski.
Von Banke photographed by Stefany Trianoski.

If The Fray and Tim Burton had a jazzy love child... then you would get Von Banke (Yasmin Kurth). A German- American singer based in Dublin, Ireland, Von Banke has been working tirelessly on perfecting her debut album, “Awake.” So when lockdown restrictions were introduced halting music video production, what does an artist got to do? Keep making music!

I spoke with Von Banke on music, creating an album, and when uncontrollable factors interfere, what does this organized German do.

So Von Banke, congrats on completing your first full-length album “Awake”! An amazing accomplishment. You describe your musical style as the love child of The Fray and Tim Burton. Where did this interesting musical and style combo come from?

My parents always told me to “think 'further outside the box' than just Outside”. Having creative and musical parents, I was lucky enough to be exposed to many different genres from an early age. (Although listening to Genesis' 23-minute 'Super's Ready' or rehearsing Operatic songs when all I wanted as a teenager was to sing Rock was appreciated far later on in life... Sorry, Mom and Dad).

Today when I write music, I try to combine what I love from all these fascinating genres the world has given us. The complexity of Progressive metal, the orchestration, and arrangements of compositions, the honesty of Lyrical Singer-Songwriters, the feel and mood of rock, etc.

The more you are willing to learn, the more you find your own way of doing things.

I remember you telling me about all the challenges, the ups and downs, of making this album. How has your journey to “Awake” been?

Journey is probably the best way to put it! Everything that could've gone wrong with this album, did. I had a studio, I lost the studio, musicians had scheduling conflicts, engineers couldn't take part that had committed before, the list goes on!

"Awake" is supposed to be a 'coming of age' album about finding yourself and your strength, and I certainly feel like I did that during this process.

After a while, people were starting to say "Jeez, you're quite resilient,'" but at one point, resilience was the only option. I ended up not only writing and doing the vocals for the album, but I also recorded the guitars as well as did a good chunk of the mixing for it.

So much time, energy, and just plain work had gone into "Awake" (from not only me but the other people involved) that there was no way I could give up.

I think that's why I'm extra proud of this album. Because it doesn't just prove that I have a voice, but that I'm willing to stand up for it.

I know that this past year you were planning on creating a series of music videos to go along with the album. How have you been able to adapt to changes from the pandemic lockdown?

The music videos have sadly been put on hold for right now. Lockdown has made it easy to fall into a bit of limbo, so I've been trying to commit to a routine where I've been able to start writing again.

Doing something creative is a bit of a balancing act between committing enough time to get your projects completed, but also to go out and have experiences, so you actually have something to say.

I've been so caught up with finishing "Awake," that I haven't had the time to sit down and process that whole experience. Lockdown has been a great way to do that.

Von Banke singer songwriter and artist behind Awake photographed by Sylvia Kurth.
Von Banke photographed by Sylvia Kurth.

With so much of the arts from live concerts to theatres and festivals shut down, how have you adapted as an artist? How have you seen other musicians and artists adapt?

As unfortunate as this pandemic has been for all of us, on so many different levels it's happened at a rather fortunate time. Technology is such a great tool nowadays for creating.

People have been performing shows on Instagram and taking online courses to learn to record at home. So much more is possible today than it would've been a few years ago.

I also think it's a really important lesson that life pretty much forces you to learn to be adaptable.

Something doesn't work? Find a new way to do it. I have friends who make their living gigging and busking, and it's so devastating that they've been out of work so this long, but they're all still creating.

Some are doing online courses to broaden their musical chops. Some are composing for directors around the world. Others are isolating with fellow musicians and writing new music. Things are always possible if you care enough to do it.

So, be adaptable! You can be stubborn when you're old.

So what is next for you and your music? What’s next for “Awake” and after?

I'm in contact with a few film projects to incorporate some songs from "Awake" and also compose new songs as well as compositions. I'm also currently working with Panorâmica Boreal Films on a 3-part Youtube Series from Writer/Director Jay Laurentino, which I'm very excited about. The two of us have worked on several projects throughout the years.

Other than that, something this year has taught me to not plan too far ahead! Continue writing new music, working with other creatives, and just keep moving. That's always going to be "What's next."

Are there any organizations you would like to give a shout out to?

MiraCosta College in San Diego is where I received the bulk of my education. I'm eternally grateful for whoever graced that school’s Music Department. Even the universities I attended didn't live up to the support and possibilities that college gave me.

I'd love to give a massive Thank You to the people that worked on "Awake". Markus Kmitta and David Hamilton (My Heroes), Glenn Hughes, Kristina Kalchev, Jack Rufus-Kelly, Phil Noone, and Adam Mcnamara.

Von Banke (right) when with singing in her duo Sing String with Jimmy Brennan (left). Photographed by Laura Forde.
Von Banke (right) when with singing in her duo Sing String with Jimmy Brennan (left). Photographed by Laura Forde.

You can listen to “Awake” and other songs by Von Banke on her website as well as on Spotify.

Keep up to date with her music @VonBanke on Facebook and @Von_Banke on Instagram.

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