Pennjamin Bannekar Interview: Bringing Honesty & Passion To Music
Art is a personal endeavor and it’s always refreshing hearing honest, real life experiences be put to wax. Pennjamin Bannekar does a great job of creating musical landscapes that reflect his day to day life and has managed to share his work with a wide variety of people, even opening up for Slum Village’s Elzhi and touring with KRS-ONE, Dwele, and Bilal. We got the opportunity to ask him about his music, his recent EP 1/11, what to look out for in 2018, and some of his favorite moments of his career. Learn more about this Chicago artist below and see why he’s been able to bring his passion to life.
Q: You started off the year strong with your EP 1/11. What was it like making that project? What’s your favorite song off the tape?
The final form of 1/11 is the 3rd and final version of the EP. The previous 2 versions of this project were called All Smiles and Apparently Transparent. All Smiles had a lot of uplifting songs where as Apparently Transparent had a lot of songs that dealt with deeper issues that I had experienced and I kind of aired them out. 1/11 was more of a celebration and being that I released it on my actual birthday, a celebration was the way to go lol.
When I was younger I wanted to be the next Michael Jackson until I realized I couldn’t sing or dance so that dream faded quickly but around the time of the Bad Boy movement, I started to dabble in writing and recording my own raps over their instrumentals. Then in the summer after 8th grade, I started recording music with my brother and his two best friends in my Grandma’s basement. Since those days I feel I have progressed exponentially in my lyrics, delivery, flow, song making and songwriting capabilities but the progression has been one of the most rewarding and frustrating experiences of my life. I say that because when you see a song or your plans come together as you envisioned it, there’s no better feeling. On the other hand, when things go opposite of how you planned them, it can make you question what you’re doing a lot.
I have some more visuals to shoot for the 1/11 EP… (the songs Arcade and Best Life will definitely have music videos) and I will be hitting the stage to perform the songs on 1/11. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious to see how the songs from this project work on stage. I have some more writing on my plate to do for other artists as well as hoping to complete a joint EP with Dhniera Blu that we have been talking about doing for a couple of years now. Also, I am working with the Fr3shmen on my next solo project as we speak (which I’m really excited about because I always felt like we are unstoppable when we put our music minds together) and if all goes right, I’d like to release that in Q4.
I think my biggest takeaway from each artist was that, music can be your job and provide for you. Each of these artists have toured across the country multiple times and each time they get to showcase their art for their fans and supporters. For me, that’s my biggest dream to achieve within music. It’s never been about money or fame. It’s always been about creating and sharing my art. Obviously, I always knew it was possible to do that but to be able to experience that first hand and see these artist live that dream was an invaluable takeaway for me.
Somebody just asked me this the other day and I wasn’t able to answer them lol… Granted, I do have songs that I like more than others and those songs are held in high regard when I look at back at everything that I have recorded but I can’t say that one is more of a favorite than the others. And I say that because each song that I hold in high regard, is held in high regard for a different reason. One may have a great story behind the actually recording of the song, while I may have felt like I was in my glow when I wrote another one… lol I couldn’t pick just one.
Hands down, my favorite performance was when I opened up for Elzhi in Chicago. I was really into Slum Village so getting a chance to be on the same bill with him was an honor in itself, but the crowd was amazing that night. I literally got off the stage and felt like Jay-Z or Kanye because of how hard the crowd rocked with me that night. It was almost like I could do no wrong and they loved every minute of my set! And then randomly, I met Michelle Williams (of Destiny’s Child) when I got off stage. (She’s gorgeous in person btw).
Focused (because I know what my lane is and I know what I excel at musically). Factual (all of my music comes from real life experiences that I have gone through and I refuse to talk about things I haven’t experienced. You’ll never hear me say I’m living in a mansion until I’m actually living in a mansion lol). Humbly-Arrogant (I don’t feel like I’m in your face braggadocious but I don’t ever shy away from showing anybody that listens why I’m the BEST and one and only Pennjamin Bannekar.)
I couldn’t pick just one but it would be, Michael Jackson, Andre 3000, Kanye West (from the College Dropout era) and the Dream. In addition to that, there are a lot of artists that may not be known by the masses, such as Omen and Tia London, that I would love to work with.