Exclusive: An interview with Ella Eyre and Banx & Ranx

Montreal’s hottest production duo Banx & Ranx have teamed up with multi-platinum selling superstar Ella Eyre for their new Yxng Bane assisted Summer anthem ‘Answerphone’. The song is destined for success and has already landed its way into the UK top 10 with their video racking up over 3 million views in just one month.

Here we had the chance to catch up with Soke and Kny from Banx & Ranx along with Ella Eyre to discuss all things about their new single, future projects, Fan questions and much more.

First off, we want to congratulate you on the single. ‘Answerphone’ is currently at Number 7 on the Official Singles Chart. Did you expect the response to be as good as it has been?

Ella: In short for me, no.

Soke: I mean I think after working in the industry for 15 years we’ve learnt how to have no expectations so we don’t really process it in the same way as listeners or people that might imagine that it could be a success, we just treat pretty much all our songs the same. We make sure whether the song isn’t going to be released or if it’s going to be a number one hit that we just have fun with it, do our best and make sure that our songs are produced and written in the best way. Then it’s out of our hands.

During the process of creating the song, did you instantly know that it could be a hit?

Ella: It was definitely an immediate decision. Even in the studio we loved the song and we wrote it on the very first day that we met. The boys had flown over from Montreal and they were doing a camp so I went and wrote there with Shakka and Jacob Manson and I always say that writing is like speed dating because you meet and you’re expected to try and get something of value in just one day. I think by the end of that day we really felt like it had worked and it has completely exceeded my expectations. I knew that I loved the song and once we had written the song that we had to release it in whatever possible way and it had to get out.

KNY:  We wrote the song at the end of October, start of November.

Ella: I think that’s the quickest turn around I’ve had in terms of writing a song and it being released. Usually you write a song and three years later they let you release it but I think the immediate response from everyone, from both of our teams was that it had to be out as soon as possible

KNY: That’s the same for us. Actually the day after I remember we kind of really tried to keep it low with management just playing them the songs and we kind of were like ‘oh yeah we have a cool tune’ and we played that but we kind of knew that we were really excited about it and the excitement translated into their reactions. Then the following day after we made the record I think they were like “ok it’s going to be either Ella Eyre and Banx & Ranx or the other way round.”

Ella: In the end I think we kind of just said that we’re going to release it together because we’re never going to be able to agree on who gets it so we’ll just go together. Also having Yxng Bane come on the track, who I think really added something, he’s great and he’s passionate and the relationship was really organic… plus he speaks French so these guys were set, I was the fourth wheel for most of the video shoot. I was like Bonjour, Non.

About Yxng Bane, was this a joint decision? Was he the only option?

KNY: Yeah, we wanted Bane so we made it happen.

Ella: It doesn’t always work out that well that you get what you want with your first option so we were very lucky and following that it wasn’t just a question of put your voice down and here’s some cash. He’s invested and it’s really nice to have that relationship with him, he’s a great guy.

Soke: And everything about the process of this song was organic, natural and easy. There was nothing forced and I think that’s the secret to having a great song.

You recently performed on ‘Sounds Like Friday Night’. How was it to perform together and for the first time live on UK television?

KNY: It was the first time on live TV for us but certainly not for Ella.

Ella: It wasn’t the first time for me but I was on tour with The Script whilst we were getting ‘Answerphone’ ready so we decided to put it in the set and see how people were reacting to it. It was just insane, considering I was playing to a crowd who essentially weren’t there for me, they were loving ‘Answerphone’ and the response on Twitter was great when was it coming out.

KNY: Even a YouTube video was online after the performance, the views kept going up and up just by doing those shows and people were like ‘oh I need this song in my life’. So then we were like ‘ok this is a first good sign’ and this was about 2 months before the record came out. 

Ella: It was like the perfect, sort of taster. We dipped our toes in, people were loving it and so it had a really good feeling from the beginning and I feel like we were always going to feel good about the record wherever it charted because it’s a song that we all love very much.

KNY: Let’s put it that way. If the record stops doing what it’s currently doing today, I will personally be super happy and proud of what it has done so far and even as a record we’re just really happy with it.

I understand you worked with Shakka and Jacob on Answerphone, and earlier on in the week you were back in the studio with them again. Can we expect ‘Answerphone’ part 2, will there be anything coming from that session?

  Amongst their cheeky laughing, all reply with “we don’t know”.

Ella: They are always here writing and they write for other people. Sometimes I’ll jump in now and again and we wrote a song that we all love but who it’s going to end up for we’ll find out.

You’ve also been in the studio with X Factor winners Rak Su, what can you tell us about that?

Soke: We just did a full week in the studio with them.

KNY: That was for their camp. We met them the last trip we came in March and we just clicked.

Soke: They’re fun guys.

Ella: They are amazing guys.

KNY: They are genuinely nice human beings, full of energy and they are real friends. It’s not like they are a group of boys who’ve just been put together from a TV show so you can feel the energy with them and its really cool.

I’m guessing you’re both probably working on albums or new projects right now, how are they going?

Soke: I think for us we’re still learning how to walk with this project so it’s kind of a slow process. One song at a time and now we’re going to release our follow up. We don’t really plan that far ahead but I think the album is going to come maybe next year or the year after that.

KNY: In this day and age it’s more about singles as well. Ella is ready for an album though.

Ella: Album wise for me I’m aware that people have been asking and it’s been a lot of years since my last one but like Yannick says we are in a single market at the moment and I’m not saying my album isn’t coming, I’m just saying I’m not rushing it. I feel like I’ve been given an opportunity to sort of start a fresh and sort of really find myself in what I’m doing and I want to make sure that the next solo project I put out is right. It’s coming but I’m taking my time so unfortunately people are going to have to wait a little bit longer.

In terms of new projects, Ella you’ve been in the studio with the Sigma lads, and kept them waiting, how’s that been?

Ella: Yeah, I worked with the Sigma boys on their first album, I wrote ‘Good Times’ my single with them which Sigala ended up finishing and then I also wrote ‘Changing’ which was their Number 1 with Paloma Faith. This was the first time in one of their studios and yeah… I was on my way and I was a bit late already and my wheel burst on the way and they live outside of London so it wasn’t like I could just hop in a cab or get on the bus- it was stressful. But, yeah it was a good day, good writing. At the moment for me I’m just doing loads of sessions with loads of people and seeing what comes of it.

Ella, you mentioned starting a fresh earlier but what can we expect from both of you with upcoming releases?

Soke: Our sound is definitely a mix of Latin, Caribbean, world music and pop.

KNY: We’ve started really with the reggae dancehall because of our background. With me coming from a Caribbean island called Guadeloupe and with Soke having roots and family in Jamaica we started there and are moving towards world music. Basically sunny tunes.

With summer on its way that means festival season, do you have any festivals coming up or which you’re excited to do this year?

Ella: I’m doing a few, I’m not doing that many because I’m focusing on writing this year and releasing. Mostly it’s writing and any festivals I’m doing are random little treats throughout the year for me.

KNY: So far we’ve got one big festival in Montreal called ‘ilesoniq festival’ and some enquiries for some different stuff but it’s in the works.

Whilst we’re on the topic of shows, do either of you have any touring plans in the works?

Ella: I’m definitely planning, whether my team aren’t, I am. But I’ve just come off tour with The Script and I don’t really intend on doing any more support slots. My next touring move will be my own, whenever that will be.

Soke: We have a concept called ‘The Banx & Ranx Sound System’ so were starting to develop that for touring purposes.

KNY: It’s going to incorporate more people than just us two to develop the sound system.

On to the music video… how was the video shoot over in Lisbon?

Ella: Rainy! We were like, we need to find a place which has got sun. The day we landed was beautiful but then the day after the rain was torrential and we tried to forge it as much as possible. I feel like we still got the energy from the video though.

In terms of life, would you say that music is your only passion and did you always think you would end up in the industry? 

KNY: It’s definitely the main passion but as time goes along the more I’m really interested in environment issues and hopefully in the future I can use music to promote good things but that’s a pretty new interest. Apart from that, the islands, the beach and the sea. Oh I also did some teaching and I liked it so I would also like to help young kids who are having trouble, sort of act as a mentor so I can give back to people.

Ella:  I’ve got loads of interests…. Obviously music is my main one but I feel that as a lyric writer if I was only interested in music, my lyrics would be quite boring so I feel like I get inspiration from other areas. For example, I love to cook and I don’t know how I would combine lyrics and cooking into a song but it might happen. I feel like for me, broadening my horizons creatively allows my mind to be open and allows other influences to come in without me realising. I also recently started Yoga and I feel that it’s really good for the mind, allowing it to reset and figure yourself out.

Soke: I actually want to start doing yoga soon. I’ve been doing music since I was 12 and it got me out of trouble a lot of the time so it’s definitely my first passion but I also love cooking as well and I definitely want to venture out into the restaurant business. I also did some training in sound healing and I really enjoyed that so maybe I’ll see if I can do that when I’m older.

You all mentioned a love for food, if you were to cook a dish for us what would you choose?

Ella: I would have to say my beef wellington, which I’ve only cooked once, is pretty good. I cooked it on Christmas Eve and it was the best thing you’ve ever seen in your life. It was a show stopper.

KNY: Actually, I’m a good cook but I don’t eat that much different stuff. It would probably be chicken or beef, something with my Indian roots, coconut milk chicken curry, any curry basically.

I am interested to find out who your dream collaboration would be?

KNY: I would love to collaborate with Ella Eyre.

Ella: [As she laughs] you know what I was going to say that! Dream collaboration, if it AIN’T broke don’t fix it. I would happily release another song with Banx & Ranx, it’s been a pleasure. And now seriously….

KNY: Ed Sheeran would be really cool, I really like this stuff.

Soke: I would probably do a mix of different kind of scenes. For reggae I’d like Damien Marley and then maybe put someone like J Balvin on it.

KNY: Ok, in fact I think I know who my dream collaboration and I think that Soke knows who it is…. Jamiroquai, that’s probably one of my favourite artists of all time- he’s great.

Ella: I would say someone that I wouldn’t mind working with [she states she’s reluctant to say love due to her past experiences with this question] is Avelino.  I really love his song ‘1 in a Million’ and I feel like I know a song that would really suit him.

Along the same lines, what is a song that’s already been released that you wish you could have been on or remixed?

 Ella: I’ve got it. Good Luck by Basement Jaxx.

 KNY: [as he gives us a rendition of his choice] Jamiroquai’s ‘Cosmic Girl’.

Soke: Probably one of the peak Michael Jackson tracks, anything produced by Quincy Jones I guess.

They are some big artists with some big achievements, both of you have made some pretty huge statements already in the industry with Ella winning Mobo’s and Brit Awards and Banx & Ranx receiving a Latin Grammy nomination for your work but what is one of your biggest career goals? A moment where you will like you’ve truly made it in the industry?

Ella: When I’ve ran out of room on my staircase for my plaques is when I’ve made it. When I have to move house and get a bigger staircase for my plaques.

KNY: Actually, there is a guy that I really respect called Max Martin and it would be to have a constant career like that where I will be in my 40’s or 50’s and I can look back and be like, wow that journey was amazing. So far the journey has been amazing.

Soke: But it has only just started.

KNY: I guess if we can just stay relevant, keep on having fun and to be able to do it for a living all my life.

Soke: I don’t know if you wake up one day and say ‘wow I made it mamma’. I think it’s just a constant state of happiness in what you do.

Ella: If you can still enjoy it in 20 years time then I would say we’ve made it. This is because usually if you’re enjoying something then you’re probably doing quite well at it.

Fan Questions:

With the song being called ‘Answerphone’, have you ever left an awkward answerphone message?

Ella: I mean the answer is probably yes because I think it’s inevitable that you’re going to have an awkward answerphone situation. The problem is when was the last time anyone actually used an answerphone?

Soke: I do all the time! I have a lot of buddies I used to make music with that sadly never kind of evolved in the business so sometimes just to annoy them I leave them messages pretending I’m an A & R from a big label telling them I heard their demo on Soundcloud and that its amazing and that I want to meet them. Then I’ll leave a long ass phone number.

Ella: That is savage, I actually can’t believe that. Oh my days wow. Oh, in fact, I think actually the worst answerphone message I had to leave was because I got in trouble at school. I called my mom, because I went to a boarding school, before school but it went to answerphone message and I had to try and explain how I had skipped school, got drunk and that I had failed. I didn’t actually tell my mom over the message but I rang her expecting that she would pick up so I was like hello mom, please can you call me back….

And just like that a new hit was formed live in the room called ‘Can You Call Me Back’

What items are on your riders?

Ella: Parma ham, Nando’s chicken, prawn crackers and postcards because when I go to a different city I send my mom a postcard home. Oh and stamps.

KNY: Jamaican Beef Patties, green tea, Red Bull and clementines.

Soke: We’re really nice with our rider.

What would be your ideal day off?

KNY: At the beach having a barbeque.

Ella: The ideal day off is either… in a sunny place where I can do nothing in the sunshine all day, being at home where I can do nothing at home all day or it be sunny and me be at home so I can do nothing in the sunshine and in my home. That would be the ideal day.

Soke: Definitely the beach, an outdoor spa, something relaxing and then dinner with drinks.

If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life what would it be?

Ella: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

KNY: Travelling Without Moving by Jamiroquai.

Soke: Bob Marley: The Greatest Hits.

Who is the most famous person in your phone books?

Banx & Ranx: I think that it would have to be Sean Paul.

Ella: Errm, Sigala or maybe Rudimental. Oh Paloma Faith, she wouldn’t mind me saying her.

What’s your favourite animal?

KNY: Dogs.

Ella: I’m a mammal person, I like mammals. I used to be a dog person but then I bought myself a cat because I had split up with my boyfriend at the time and felt like I needed some company. Then this cat actually has managed to change my outlook on cats and now I think I’m a cat person – also because they don’t require me to leave the house at any point.

Lastly, do you have a message for your fans and supporters of the song so far?

Soke: Thank you so much!

KNY: Live your life to the fullest!

Ella: I’d say that I think the message overall is thank you so much for continuously supporting and blowing our expectations out of the water and for giving us an opportunity to enjoy this release. I think it’s been one of the nicest, smoothest and most organic releases we’ve ever had and the way that it’s been received by the fans is way more than we could have ever expected. Overall just endless thank you for the support and please keep it up.

Check out their new single ‘Answerphone’ on all streaming platforms and purchase the track on iTunes.

Also be sure to follow them on twitter @Banxnranx and @EllaEyre so that you can keep up with them in the future.

Did you enjoy our exclusive interview? Let us know your thoughts over on Twitter @CelebMix

Written by Arun Mohammed

Student Journalist, music enthusiast who cares for everything showbiz. @arun_Mohammed on twitter or contact me via Email: [email protected]
Personal Blog: arunmohammed.com