“You know when you have cheerleaders that just want what’s good for you?” asks Banks. “This is what’s good for me.”
It took a pandemic lockdown filled with “isolation in the best way possible” for Banks to shed her old skin and learn to live life in the present moment. It was in that process, where the singer finally took full control of her music and artistry, that she created Serpentina. The singer’s upcoming album arrives April 8 and it’s available for preorder.
“I feel like nothing can touch me,” Banks tells Rolling Stone. “Like a serpent queen, once you shed your skin you have to keep moving and just be present in the new skin you’re in.” She adds, “That’s what happened to me.” Banks refers to the months-long isolation where she shut the blinds and closed the doors to the business side of music and focused instead on writing lyrics, co-producing, and “falling in love” again with the entire song-building process. Instead of sending music to her management for approval and advice as she normally would, this time, “I was just like, ‘This is what it’s gonna be,’ ” she says.
After “breaking through” some of the demons that she had to face during the pandemic, she says she found a new strength in herself and her artistry she had never felt before. “I’ve had times in my life where I’ve been less sure of myself,” she says. “I found this new confidence in my own creativity, in my gut intuition, and in my own opinions.”
On Thursday at midnight, the singer released the album’s third single “Holding Back,” which she says brings an “energy that is so big it could take up the whole room.” With the negativity of the pandemic, she was ready to uplift people with her music, serving a twist to her often-dark tracks on LPs Goddess and The Altar. She says the new song “makes me feel ready to conquer the world.” The new track follows LP singles “Skinnydipped” and “The Devil,” which dropped last year.
Banks describes Serpentina as holding both an airy brightness new to her sound, but also a heavy “beast underneath it.”
“I’ve always been really inspired by gospel melodies and that soul: that feeling like there’s something bigger than you,” she says. “The music is coming from that place.“ She points to the beautifully haunting album opener “Misunderstood” and vocally-driven “Spirit” as examples of that almost-religious dichotomy. “It’s so vulnerable in a self-accepting, empowered way,” she adds. “My vocals ride more on top of everything than ever before. I want people to feel like they’re sitting right next to me when they hear it — whether it’s a banger or a ballad.”
What’s also different for Banks this time is that she now owns the masters to her music, something she had never experienced before. “That’s been a really incredible feeling,” she says about her new deal with AWAL. “I’m in charge of my own career and every decision.” She adds, “I relied on other people less than I ever have on this album.”