BANNERS’ songs have an anthemic, ecclesiastical quality. They’re haunting and inspiring, effervescent and relatable. But the gospel of BANNERS is not one of deities or religion. Through tight musicianship and evocative lyrics, BANNERS’ music preaches about the incredible, enigmatic world around him.
“I tend to write based on the place I’m in and the context,” says Mike Nelson, the mind and voice behind BANNERS. For his newer releases, that context was ephemeral; each song is deeply inspired by Mike’s experiences on tour. “The more I played live,” he says, “the more I learned what I want my songs to be.” Performative elements run through each track, amounting to a stripped down and finely tuned version of BANNERS’ entirely unique sound. “I don’t ever want to rely on production to make me sound good,” Mike asserts. “I just want to sound like me.”
His songs are sincere, accessible, and organic. They flow with ease and resonate more with each utterance of Mike’s stunning falsetto croon. There’s also a timeless but personal quality to BANNERS’ music that is wholly indicative of the sense of community it’s inspired by. “Everyone is part of this,” says Mike. “I think I can write and sing but there are so many things I don’t know. I try and take everything on board and just do the best I possibly can.”
“Someone to You” is uplifting and universal, with elements that call to Mumford and Sons and Ed Sheeran. It’s magnetic and warm, capturing the simple pleasures of falling in love, while maintaining the thought-provoking choral components that define the BANNERS sound. “Firefly” holds a similar contradiction. Though it revolves around a through line of innocence, there’s a sense of liberation that adds complexity, and creates serious impact.
“I never want a song to be super happy because that’s not what the world is like,” Mike says, addressing his more upbeat tunes. “There always needs to be a twist.” “Empires on Fire” certainly has darker elements. Focusing on the oft-upsetting state of the world, it’s critical in its lyricism while avoiding being preachy. Mike’s observations are astute and grounded, marking his ability to make important music without sacrificing the fun inherent to a live performance.
“There are certain songs that become the soundtrack to a specific time in your life,” Mike says. “If my music can become the soundtrack to a moment for one person, that would be the dream for me. That would make me so happy.”