Devendra Obi Banhart (born May 30, 1981) is a Venezuelan-American singer-songwriter and visual artist. Banhart was born in Houston, Texas and raised by his mother in Venezuela. As a teenager, he moved to California, and in 1998 began studying at the San Francisco Art Institute, dropping out in 2000 to pursue a musical career. In 2002, Banhart released his debut album The Charles C. Leary and continued to create music from then on, working with record labels Young God Records and XL Recordings.
Banhart in February 2017
|Born||May 30, 1981|
Houston, Texas, United States
|Genres||Freak folk, psychedelic folk, New Weird America|
|Occupation(s)||Singer-songwriter, musician, visual artist|
|Instruments||Guitar, vocals, piano|
|Labels||XL, Young God, hinah, Reprise, Nonesuch, Warner Bros.|
|Associated acts||Vetiver, Michael Gira, Megapuss, Beck, CocoRosie, Anohni, Little Joy, Joanna Newsom, Noah Georgeson, MGMT, The Strokes, Rodrigo Amarante|
Banhart's music is often referred to as psychedelic folk, freak folk and New Weird America, and is associated with acts such as singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom, musical group CocoRosie, and contemporary folk band Vetiver. The New York Times has called his work "free associative work" and SPIN magazine has described it as "ashram-appropriate guitar strums" and "trippy-hippie tone poetry." Critics have compared Banhart's style to that of 1970s band Tyrannosaurus Rex, an early version of British rock musician Marc Bolan's T. Rex, though in a 2004 interview Banhart stated that he was unaware of Tyrannosaurus Rex until after he began writing and recording music.
Banhart was born in Houston, Texas to a Venezuelan mother, María Eugenia Rísquez, and an American father, Robert Gary Banhart. His given name is a synonym for Indra, suggested by Indian religious leader Prem Rawat whom Banhart's parents followed, and his middle name Obi takes after Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Star Wars character.
His parents divorced in 1983, after which Rísquez and he moved to Caracas, Venezuela. Rísquez later remarried and when Banhart was 14, his stepfather moved the family to Los Angeles, California.
In 1998, Banhart began studying at the San Francisco Art Institute on a scholarship while living in The Castro, San Francisco's "gay" district, though he would often busk instead of attending class. He played his first show in a church at a gay wedding, performing Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender" and the hymn "How Great Thou Art".
Banhart dropped out of school in 2000 and left San Francisco after the dot-com bubble bust worsened the city's economy. That summer, he moved to Paris, France and began opening shows for indie rock bands such as Sonic Youth. Banhart returned to the United States that fall and played music in San Francisco and Los Angeles, until he was discovered by Michael Gira, owner of Young God Records, after Siobhan Duffy, Gira's wife, bought a copy of Banhart's demo CD The Charles C. Leary and gave it to Gira.
Banhart and Gira compiled an album from Banhart's recordings, and in 2002, Oh Me Oh My, which was made up of short fragments, was published by Young God Records and received favorable reviews. He recorded two other albums and an EP for the label: Rejoicing in the Hands, Niño Rojo, and The Black Babies; the releases had a simple acoustic sound. Banhart changed to XL Recordings in 2005 and released Cripple Crow, which was recorded in Bearsville Studios, New York and had a more elaborate sound.
Banhart's albums offer a variety of musical sounds, and he is often called the leader of the musical movement termed "Freak Folk." His lyrics are fantastical, idealistic, and poetic with the occasional trace of innuendos.
Additionally in 2005 Devendra collaborated with Antony and the Johnsons on the award-winning album I Am a Bird Now. Banhart sings the introduction to the song "Spiraling" and plays guitar on "You Are My Sister" in which Boy George also appears.
He recorded his second album for XL Records, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, at his home studio in Topanga, California. The album charted on the Billboard 200 at number 115. The album's song "Lover" was featured in the soundtrack of the movie Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which included a cameo appearance by Banhart.
Banhart has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl opening for Gilberto Gil, as well as at Bonnaroo and Coachella music festivals. He founded a record label, Gnomonsong, with Andy Cabic of Vetiver, in 2005. In 2007, he signed with Neil Young's manager Elliot Roberts, who also contributed vocals to Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon.
Banhart released an album in 2008 entitled Surfing, with Megapuss – a collaborative project with Gregory Rogove and Fabrizio Moretti of The Strokes and Little Joy. Comedian Aziz Ansari is featured on the album's track "Duck People Duck Man" under the alias "Grandpa P Darwish".
In 2009, he signed to Warner/Reprise and released, What Will We Be. Later that year, at the band's request, he produced a remix of Oasis' "(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady". Along with "Neighbors", Devendra remixed the Phoenix song "Rome" from their 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.
On September 4, 2009, Beck announced his second Record Club covers album, Songs of Leonard Cohen. Banhart contributed, alongside MGMT, Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother and Binki Shapiro of Little Joy.
He is a collector of music artifacts. Banhart wrote the foreword for and appears in his friend Lauren Dukoff's book Family: Photographs by Lauren Dukoff. He has also written the introduction to a selection of poems by Kenneth Patchen.
On October 27, 2009, Banhart released What Will We Be, his first record on Warner/Reprise. Banhart and Jon Beasley, who were credited as art directors for the album's artwork and packaging, were nominated for a Grammy in 2011 for Best Recording Package.
The film Life During Wartime, directed by Todd Solondz, features a musical collaboration between Banhart and Beck. The song plays over the film's end credits. Banhart sings lead vocals while Beck adds backing vocals and also recorded the track. The lyrics were written by Solondz and the music by composer Marc Shaiman.
Banhart is an avid skateboarder, and in March 2010 broke a bone in his right leg while skating, only hours before a concert in Phoenix, resulting in the cancelation of future shows in Utah and Colorado.
In 2011, he collaborated with Marisa Monte and Rodrigo Amarante on a version of the song "Nú Com a Minha Música" for the Red Hot Organization's most recent charitable album "Red Hot + Rio 2". The album is a follow-up to the 1996 "Red Hot + Rio." Proceeds from the sales will be donated to raise awareness and money to fight AIDS/HIV and related health and social issues.
In April 2012, Banhart took place in artist Doug Aitken's audiovisual project "Song 1" at the Hirshorn Museum in Washington, D.C. Banhart joined Beck and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem in performing "I Only Have Eyes For You" for the project that uses eleven high-definition video projectors working in tandem to blanket the museum's entire surface with a video of the performance.
On December 3, 2012 Banhart announced his new album, Mala. The album was released on March 12, 2013, and was Banhart's debut album for Nonesuch.
In June 2016, Banhart released the first track of his ninth studio album, Ape in Pink Marble, titled 'Middle Names'. In August 2016, Banhart released the second track of his ninth studio album, titled 'Saturday Night'. His ninth studio album, Ape in Pink Marble was released on September 23, 2016 on Nonesuch Records.
His tenth studio album, Ma was released on September 13, 2019 on Nonesuch Records.
Visual art and other mediaEdit
Banhart's drawings have also been featured in the Art Basel Contemporary Art Fair in Miami, Florida, the Mazzoli Gallery in Modena, Italy, Spain's ARCOmadrid. and the Andrew Roth Gallery in New York.
His drawings were featured in MOCA's exhibit "The Artist's Museum", in which the works of influential Los Angeles based artists from the last 30 years were presented. As part of the exhibition Banhart collaborated with artist Doug Aitken and musicians Beck and Caetano Veloso for a musical and visual performance piece.
Banhart's live band has had multiple names, including Spiritual Bonerz (the 'z' is silent) and The Grogs.
- Devendra Banhart – vocals, guitar, organ, synthesizers, samba, and more
- Rodrigo Amarante – guitar, bass, backing vocals, synthesizer,
- Noah Georgeson – guitar, multiple instruments, producer
- Gregory Rogove – drummer, backing vocals
- Josiah Steinbrick – bass, multiple instruments
- Todd Dahlhoff – bass, backing vocals
- H. Hawkline – guitar (2017 Ape in Pink Marble tour)
- Tim Presley (2017 Ape in Pink Marble tour)
- Luckey Remington (2017 Ape in Pink Marble tour)
|2002||The Charles C. Leary||—||—||—|
|2002||Oh Me Oh My||—||—||—|
|2004||Rejoicing in the Hands||100||—||—||
|2007||Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon||93||115||3||
|2009||What Will We Be||109||139||4||
|2016||Ape in Pink Marble||—||—||18|
Singles and EPsEdit
- The Black Babies (2003)
- Sight To Behold/Be Kind (2004)
- Little Yellow Spider (2004)
- At The Hop (2004)
- I Feel Just Like A Child (2005)
- Heard Somebody Say (2005)
- Chinese Children (2005)
- Xiu Xiu/Devendra Banhart split 7-inch (2005)
- White Reggae Troll (2006)
- Carmensita (2007)
- Lover (2007)
- Baby (2009)
- 16th & Valencia Roxy Music (2009)
- Foolin' (2010)
- Something French/Loring Baker' (2014)
- Middle Names (2016)
- Fig in Leather (2017)
- Vast Ovoid (2020)
Collaborations and compilationsEdit
- The Golden Apples of the Sun (2004)
- Jana Hunter / Devendra Banhart (with Jana Hunter, 2005)
- Love Above All (2007)
- Xiu Xiu's Remixed & Covered (2007)
- Surfing (as Megapuss with Gregory Rogove, 2008)
- Songs of Leonard Cohen – Beck's Record Club (2009)
- Loving Takes This Course – A Tribute to the Songs of Kath Bloom (2009)
- Amador – You're The One with Adanowsky (2010)
- Mujer Divina, Homenaje a Agustín Lara – Amor, amor de mis amores with Natalia Lafourcade (2012)
- "Time" with Stray Dogg (2012)
- Someday with Akira Kosemura (2017)
- A Kind of Love Song with Shuta Hasunuma & U-Zhaan (2018)
- Hall, Nicholas (April 7, 2009). "Devendra Banhart's footloose folk". SF Weekly. Retrieved May 2, 2009.
- Bemis, Alec Hanley (December 12, 2004). "Freak Folk's Very Own Pied Piper". The New York Times. Retrieved April 20, 2009.
- Rutledge, James (November 5, 2004). "Joanna Newsom and the New Weird America". BBC. Retrieved May 2, 2009.
- "Devendra Banhart on SPIN.com". SPIN.com. October 27, 2009.
- AllMusic page: "Devendra Banhart biography."
- The Times article: "Devendra Banhart: What Will We Be."
- Splendid article: "Features: Devendra Banhart Archived December 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine."
- "Devendra Banhart". Mojo.com. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
- Stylus Magazine article: "Cripple Crow review Archived October 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine."
- Arthur Magazine article: ""So Righteous to Love": Devendra Banhart, interviewed by Trinie Dalton (Arthur No. 10/May 2004)."
- Schreiber, Abby (July 12, 2012). "Devendra Banhart on His New Album His Thoughts on the EDM Scene and Making Ostrich Egg Omelets With Beck". Papermag. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
- Banhart, Devendra (2009). "Stirring Ska, Rock, R&B and Hip-Hop into a Freak-Folk Stew". New York Times.
- Campion, Chris (August 12, 2007). "Stranger than folk". The Observer. Retrieved May 7, 2009.
- Bemis, Alec Hanley (August 28, 2005). "The Soft Revolution". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 14, 2009.
- Kamps, Garrett (January 8, 2003). "Man of La Mantra". SF Weekly. Retrieved April 20, 2009.
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- Vaziri, Aidin (October 26, 2005). "Sweet, shocking, mesmerizing – Devendra Banhart follows his sprawling, childlike musical muse". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 20, 2009.
- MacNeil, Jason; Loftus, Johnny. "Devendra Banhart – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved April 20, 2009.
- Alec, Hanley B. (2004). "Freak Folk's very Own Pied Piper". New York Times.
- Nme.Com (January 3, 2007). "Clap Your Hands, Wolfmother design T-shirts". NME. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
- "Devendra Banhart splits with Natalie Portman – Tabloid Hell | NME". NME Music News, Reviews, Videos, Galleries, Tickets and Blogs | NME.COM. September 25, 2008. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
- Kreps, Daniel (July 22, 2008). "Natalie Portman Stars in Boyfriend Banhart's "Carmensita" Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
- "Artist Chart History – Devendra Banhart". Billboard. Retrieved April 20, 2009.
- "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Offers A Devendra Banhart Cameo, New Vampire Weekend". Stereogum. August 14, 2008. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
- Nelson, Steffie (August 9, 2009). "Lauren Dukoff's 'Family' photos of free spirits". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
- Cromelin, Richard (June 28, 2008). "Devendra Banhart in tune with Gilberto Gil". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
- Vozick-Levinson, Simon (April 13, 2009). "Papercuts' 'You Can Have What You Want': Stream this indie gem here". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 23, 2009.
- "Elliot Roberts: Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
- "Megapuss Revealed or I Believe Your Dickskirt Is Caught in My Microphone". The Fader. June 19, 2008.
- "Warner Bros. Signs Devendra Banhart". August 3, 2009. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
- "Oasis ask Devendra Banhart to remix them – audio". NME. June 10, 2009. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2009.
- "Listen: Devendra Banhart Remixes Phoenix". Pitchfork. September 28, 2009. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
- Lindsay, Andrew. "Beck, MGMT & Banhart cover Leonard Cohen". stereokill.net. Archived from the original on January 10, 2010. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
- Nelson, Steffie. "'Family': Devendra Banhart and other free spirits". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 19, 2009.
- Family. ISBN 0811866629.
- "53rd Grammy Awards Best Recording Package Nominees". Archived from the original on December 6, 2010. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
- "LISTEN: Banhart, Beck Movie Soundtrack Collabo". SPIN. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
- Dayal, Geeta (April 18, 2012). "Doug Aitken's Song 1 Wraps Museum in 360-Degree Panoramic Video". Wired.
- "The Eric Andre Show. Season 1, Episode 6. "Jack"". IMDb.
- Lozano, Kevin. "Devendra Banhart Announces New Album Ape in Pink Marble, Shares New Track Middle Names: Listen", Pitchfork, June 24, 2016. Retrieved on June 26, 2016.
- "Devendra Banhart – Middle Names (Official Audio)". YouTube. June 2, 2016. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
- Yoo, Noah. "Devendra Banhart Shares New Song "Saturday Night": Listen", Pitchfork, August 29, 2016/ Retrieved on August 29, 2016.
- "Devendra Banhart – Saturday Night [Official Audio". YouTube. August 2, 2016. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
- Minsker, Evan (June 18, 2019). "Devendra Banhart Announces New Album Ma, Shares New Song: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- "Abstract Rhythms: Paul Klee and Devendra Banhart". San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
- "It's not only Rock 'n' Roll, Baby!". Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels. Archived from the original on January 13, 2009. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
- "Behind the Music: Devendra Banhart's Visual Art Takes Center Stage". Fast Company. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
- "Grapefruit: Yoko Ono in 1964". Isefoundation.org. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
- "Tate Podcasts". Tate Museum. Retrieved May 26, 2006.
- "Devendra Banhart Is Putting Out a Book Titled I Left My Noodle on Ramen Street". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 26, 2006.
- "Revealing the curators & initial line-up for Le Guess Who? 2018". www.leguesswho.nl. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
- "Devendra Banhart Coast to Coast – The Roxy, Boston, MA and the Orpheum Theater, Los Angeles, CA". Junk Media. Archived from the original on April 13, 2009. Retrieved November 9, 2007.
- Martens, Todd (September 17, 2005). "Banhart's 'Crow' A Groovy Trip". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
- "New Release Guide – Issue 20" (PDF). WEA. August 8, 2016. p. 7. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
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