Moody Bank$, a singer/songwriter in her 20s, writes relatable lyrics and pairs them with her lo-fi, jazz sound. As her stage name suggests, the combination is very “moody,” which describes a mellow, darker tone of music that talks about love, longing and heartbreak.
By Nicco Pelicano, Photos courtesy of Moody Bank$
Bank$ grew up in Corona, California, as a very artistic child who enjoyed singing, writing and painting. Despite those interests, she received a basketball scholarship at Concordia University and played her way through college while studying psychology.
After graduating, Bank$ felt lost. So she decided to follow her dream and move to Austin to pursue what her inner child always knew was the right path for her. “I am glad that I listened to my intuition because I think that is exactly where I need to be,” Bank$ says. “As we get older, we forget the things that we really love.”
Bank$ released her first single, “Quaran’tea,” during the COVID-19 lockdown as an ode to quarantine.
With nothing to do but write in her diary, she began a narrative that started in her room, dreaming of the possibilities of what love could be outside of her four walls. “It was such a liberating feeling because it was like, ‘This is it; now I have to put more songs out.’ I didn’t have anything else holding me back,” she says.
Of Rollercoasters & Skinny Love
In her latest single, “Rollercoaster,” Bank$ seems to have adopted a darker sound that she describes as “an old-school feeling with a modern twist.” It gives off wine-drunk, dizzy feelings as she describes love and the bumpy ride it drags its victims on.
Despite the outsider’s perspective of the narrative, which resembles a love story ending in flames, Bank$ admits that it isn’t based solely on her past relationships. “A lot of my songs are about friends and family,” she says. “I have a way of turning every story and scenario into a love story.”
Bank$ illustrates the one-sided “skinny love” that listeners can relate to. Even though she might not always pull from her own romantic experiences, she reminds her audience that “those feelings are still valid. Just because it’s not specifically a romantic relationship, doesn’t mean there isn’t love involved.”
‘It’s okay to be vulnerable.’
When thinking about what she wanted her audience to take away from her music, Bank$ offers, “It’s okay to be vulnerable, emotional and in the same sense be a powerful woman in the world. There’s power in vulnerability and speaking your truth, and I want people to feel that.”
Along with performing regularly at the Far Out Lounge in Austin, Bank$ began a nonprofit organization called Juicy. She donated all the proceeds from Juicy to Texas Fair Defense Project. TFDP helps those who are treated unjustly because of their economic status. “That is just one way I felt like I could physically help somebody,” she says.
Bank$ counts Erykah Badu, Amy Winehouse and Nora Jones as inspirations to her music. Her Black mother and Mexican-Italian father simultaneously empower her. Their struggles with feeling as if they do not belong provided inspiration and motivation for her work. Bank$ thinks many people can relate to this hunger for acceptance, a recurring theme in her music.
Bank$ announced that her new tape, Feeling Colors is coming out very soon. Like the title suggests, the tape will showcase her signature “moody” vibe along with some more vibrant, feel-good songs. “I’m really excited to share more of myself and for everyone to see the growth since the first tape,” she says.
(photo) Moody Bank$ showcases the contradicting feelings of love through her staggering sound of old jazz and lo-fi. Even though they are completely different vibes, she creates her own dark narrative with a promise of better days ahead.