In the artwork for the single “Gimme,” Banks’ first solo release since 2017, the synth-pop singer gazes into the distance as she clutches her bare breast, which is just out of frame. The provocative image, which inspired the cheeky #TitsOutForBanks Twitter campaign among her dedicated fans, mirrors the directness of the song: “You can call me that bitch,” growls Banks in the first verse. The artwork was a move she now calls “a little bit risky.” But after being out of the spotlight for two years -- during which the dark, alt-pop aesthetic that she, Lorde and Halsey helped popularize exploded even further into the mainstream through the likes of Billie Eilish -- a risk was exactly what Banks, 30, needed to take. The new single, she says from her Los Angeles home in the hills, “slaps you in the face. It’s a part of my personality that is fearless -- I wanted to come back with that.”
Born Jillian Rose Banks, the Orange County, Calif., native started writing songs at 15, though it wasn’t until she had graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in psychology that she started posting tracks on SoundCloud, including “Before I Ever Met You,” which she uploaded in February 2013. With the help of DJ Yung Skeeter, who connected with Banks in college and offered to manage her, the song made its way to Zane Lowe, then at BBC Radio 1. The following month, Banks landed a record deal with London-based label Good Years Recordings, and six months later she signed stateside with Harvest Records. Her 2014 debut full-length, Goddess, hit No. 12 on the Billboard 200, led by the electro-pop single “Beggin for Thread,” which peaked at No. 11 on the Alternative chart. The album’s 2016 follow-up, The Altar, also entered the Billboard 200’s top 20. She has since garnered 513 million on-demand streams in the United States, according to Nielsen Music; landed synchs on shows like Girls and Power; collaborated with 6LACK; and, on her last tour, booked 3,000-capacity venues.