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AT FLANNELS:     with Trillary Banks

AT FLANNELS: with Trillary Banks

“I’m a rapper, I’m an MC, but I’m also a musician.”

Leicester’s Trillary Banks won’t be boxed in.

“Music’s been a part of me ever since I was born,” she says, suspecting that she was jamming to her parents’ music from the womb. “My mum and dad were Rastafarians, it’s a part of life." 

Her father was a DJ and played Jungle music at home. “It’s very bass-heavy,” she explains. “It carries a lot of good vibrations. It’s very spiritual.” His best friend was heavily involved in the Aba Shanti-I sound which has a strong connection to Trillary’s hometown, having debuted at Leicester Carnival in 1990.’”

Taking place every Summer in Victoria Park, Carnival has provided an annual source of inspiration for Trillary: “Dancing, vibing, having fun - celebrating being black and free, that’s carnival,” she says. “It’s one day of the year that everyone is going to come together, everyone is going to be in good spirits.”

Growing up in Highfields, Trillary first got into making music through Grime, which was accessible to her through youth programmes at venues like the African Caribbean Centre where her uncle Djoe and his late wife Aisha ran projects to keep young people away from negativity. “You had somewhere safe where you could go and start to get a feel for your creative side,” she recalls. “That was the start for a lot of us.”

Trillary wants to promote self-love and confidence through her work. “As Black women, a lot of us have insecurities just learning about ourselves and how we fit in,” she explains. “Now I know who I am, I know where I’m trying to go. I know the message I’m trying to spread.”

As she’s continued to grow and reflect on her own identity, Trillary hasn’t been afraid to channel her creativity into different genres of music including rap, drill and dancehall: her music and personal style are reflections on how she’s feeling, or where she’s at in her personal life. “I have so many different elements to my style, I’m constantly evolving,” she explains, wearing a casual party dress by Off-White. “There’s never gonna just be one Trillary image, my image differs, you never know what you’re gonna get.” 
She cites the Jamaican Yardie culture as empowering her to be different: “If they’re going to do a big performance at [Jamaica’s longest-running stage show] Sting, Ninjaman might come out dressed as one of the fighters from Tekken.”

“Fashion is a way of expression,” Trillary continues, moving on to party gowns for women in a black Vian Dress by Vivienne Westwood. “It’s not always a dress ting, but if you’ve got a nice little black dress, you can always go out and look sexy. Accessories always essential.”.”

Style has always been intrinsic to Trillary’s persona. She combined the Southern hip-hop slang ‘Trill’, popularised by Texas rappers UGK, with one of her favourite ‘90s sitcom characters, Hilary Banks - Will Smith’s glamorous on-screen cousin from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.

“She was amazing: she was cute, funny, swag, she had drip, she had money. Trillary Banks is the more real, down-to-earth, relatable, ghetto version,” she explains. “Trill means to be true to one’s self and be real with all: Trillary.”

Interview by Grant Brydon 

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