YOU SHOULD KNOW | 004
“He’s Banx, I’m Ranx.”
That’s the answer I get when I ask the production duo from Montreal, Canada, responsible for the summer smash “Answerphone” featuring Ella Eyre and Yxng Bane, which of them is Banx and which is Ranx.
Sounds pretty simple, right? Wrong.
The answer didn’t come from one of them, it came from them both simultaneously. So I repeat my question.
Answering together again they say: “He’s Ranx and I’m Banx.”
Confused for a second I then realise what’s happening. It turns out I’ve been going about this all the wrong way. They’re both Banx & Ranx.
“It’s like ying and yang, it’s one entity,” explains Yannick, one half of the group. “We wanted a name that reflects the balance.”
“It’s about complimentary forces,” adds Zach, the other half of Banx & Ranx. “At first we chose that name because we liked how it sounded. It sounded kinda reggae-ish and dancehall-ish because at first we were doing mostly a hybrid of electronic music and dancehall reggae before it evolved into what it is today.”
Born in France to an Indian father and a French-Canadian mother, Yannick was raised in Guadeloupe, a French island territory located in the Caribbean. He moved to Canada in 2008. It was here he was able to delve further into his passions – house, dubstep, trap and other electronic music with a tropical and dancehall flavour – after playing rhythms on Guadeloupe’s traditional gwo ka drums and discovering his love for singing (in creole) as well as producing dancehall, reggae and Hip Hop in his teens.
Zach was already in Canada DJing at illegal raves from a young age and he went on to produce trance music and became enamoured with drum & bass, ragga, jungle and other musical inventions from the UK. The huge popularity of his remix of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” was a particular breakthrough, with many praising a rare Marley remix that respected the original while still striving to offer something new.
Eventually the pair’s paths crossed and they quickly realised they had something special. Blending Yannick’s love of drops and dancehall with Zach’s reggae rhythms resulted in the first Banx & Ranx track, “Crime Scene”.
“I started producing at around 12-years-old,” says Zach. “I discovered DJing and turntable-ism and it changed my life forever. I had no idea you could do that. I remember going to one of my friends’ dad’s studio space for the first time and it looked like a spaceship to me.”
Pausing for a second, Zach then has a lightbulb moment remembering an old memory. “Ah that’s a great one. One of my first ever remixes was of ‘Yellow Submarine’ by The Beatles.
“We sampled the vinyl and just added random drums to it and didn’t follow the tempo at all.”
While Zach laughs about it Yannicks pipes up and says, “I really need to hear that.”
Yannick started off wanting to be an illustrator like a friend of his but admits he wasn’t that good and then when he got into music his friend who drew wanted to do music. “But he couldn’t do it, which was good,” Yannick says. “Because it meant he could do all the illustrating for the music.”
His crowning glory came when he dropped a 76-track mixtape, which he produced and mixed himself, that compiled music from Guadeloupe’s biggest underground acts in 2004.
For Banx & Ranx it’s always been about doing something creative, whether together or individually. So whether it was illustrating or making music they knew they just had to create something, anything.
Fast forward to now and they’ve certainly achieved this. Having collaborated with the likes of Sean Paul, Lady Leshurr, Fuse ODG, Gorillaz, Stylo G, Jess Glynne and Kiko Bun, to name but a few, as well as putting out their own music, their creative juices have well and truly been flowing as of late.
So how would they describe this sound that everyone keeps coming to them for?
“It’s modern world music,” the pair say almost exactly at the same time – there’s that unity again. “We used to call it ECM, electronic Caribbean music but the box is too small,” Zach explains while the eyebrows on the duo’s PR who is present perk up as she’s never heard them call it modern world music before.”
“I’ll have to add this to the next press release we put out,” she says laughing.
But like every musician there’s always a string of artists before them that ignited the passion for music deep within their being and also influenced their own creative process. For Banx & Ranx it was a series of different artists from varying backgrounds.
“Sean Paul definitely,” says Yannick. “I remember when we met him for the first time I told him that if it wasn’t for listening to his music I probably wouldn’t be sat here now.
A fan of some of the talent from his home island of Guadeloupe, he was also heavily influenced by Jamiroquai.
“Oh yeah, and you know you’re always influenced by whatever weird stuff your parents would play around the house? Well my parents always played Boney M., so they can be considered an influence.” Laughing his way through an incorrect lyrical rendition of “Sunny”, he explains he had no clue what the lyrics were growing up because his English only got better a few years ago.
Zach’s influences included Infected Mushroom. “My parents thought I was going mad when I was listening to that,” he says then adding:
“Bob Marley from day one, from super young. Actually when I was young I couldn’t differentiate between Bob and UB40.” It’s at this point I look at him funny and snigger, at which point he says, “Give me a break I was like 4-years-old.”
Also naming Daft Punk and a few others, it’s at this point that Zach brings up Michael Jackson. Of course the King of Pop has influenced everyone, and if you were to ask every artist on the planet if they were influenced by Michael Jackson I’d say at least 90% of them would answer yes, but for Zach MJ had healing powers and inspired a mini miracle – even if he won’t say it was a miracle.
“When I was three or four I discovered Michael Jackson,” he begins. “I was very ill at the time and I couldn’t walk, I was in a wheelchair. So one time they put on Michael Jackson in the hospital room and I just got up and started dancing. I was going crazy.
“I’ve had a lot of darkness in my life but I graduated from the darkness and I now have two beautiful daughters who are my inspiration.”
Currently riding high off of the success of their latest single featuring Ella Eyre and Yxng Bane, “Answerphone” climbed up the UK singles chart peaking at number five and has gone on to be a summer 2018 anthem following its release earlier this year.
Prior to “Answerphone” the guys were content with making good music and doing what they loved to do with no eye on business really, it was just about having fun. Not looking for a record deal it was only a matter of time before a record deal found them.
“We came in this game just as producer/writers,” explains Zach with Yannick adding: “We were doing the artist thing on the side just for fun. We were doing remixes and a few original songs and putting them on Soundcloud.
“We just enjoy being in the studio vibing with people and spending time getting to know them and getting to know different cultures.
“But how our deal came was through doing a session with Tinie Tempah, who is signed to Parlophone. We did a song “Sex 4 Breakfast”, which was originally meant to be for him but it ended up going to K Stewart, and at this time I think the track was being played in different offices in at the label and they were continually hearing the Banx & Ranx tag at the beginning of the track and they were like: ‘Who the fuck are they?’”
After that a couple of A&Rs came to see us, one in particular, Elias Christidis, we struck up a vibe with and we were like, ‘Okay, let’s do this’ and they came and partied with us in Montreal for 48 hours and the rest is history.”
“Answerphone” by Banx & Ranx Feat. Ella Eyre and Yxng Bane is out now.