Guide to AnguillaTravel Edit

Bankie Banx: Free Spirit Reggae Legend

Bankie BanxBankie Banx
Anguilla’s reggae icon  Bankie Banx speaks about music, dreams and the free spirit life.

Unlike the manufactured pop stars churned out by the industry, the Anguillan icon Bankie Banx is a real deal. This reggae legend built his career on raw passion and the intoxicating rhythms of his island home. Here’s a guy who never marched to the beat of anyone else’s drum. From building his first guitar as a kid to becoming the “Anguillan Bob Dylan,” Bankie’s journey overflows with chart-topping reggae anthems and the legendary Moonsplash festival he founded.

Bankie Banx’s songs are known for their blend of reggae rhythms, soulful vocals, and lyrics that celebrate his island life, tackle social issues, explore the complexities of love, and draw from his own personal experiences.

In an intimate, relaxed chat with WAWW that has taken place at  his legendary Dune Preserve live music beach bar in Anguilla, Bankie explores the philosophy that fueled his remarkable journey, shares his thoughts on music, the dreams that ignited his career, and the wisdom he gained by walking a path less travelled—a path that resonates deeply with the WAWW spirit of embracing the unconventional.

BANKIE BANX ON THE MEANING OF MUSIC

Music, it’s always been there. From a young age, I found myself drawn to it, with a real passion burning inside. You know, I used to tinker with anything I could get my hands on, building things and expressing myself. But then I discovered music, and it felt like finding my voice. It wasn’t just singing; it was a way to bring out my thoughts and feelings, all wrapped up in this beautiful sound. Music, at its core, is about letting go, you know? Just play, pouring your heart and soul into it. In school, everything felt so rigid—all these formulas and rules. But music, that was freedom for my spirit.

BANKIE BANX ABOUT THE LIFE'S MAIN LESSON

First and foremost, never let go of your dreams. They can lift you up. Dreams give you perspective; they let you see the world from a different angle. Even if they don’t take you exactly where you thought you wanted to go, the journey itself will be incredible. Those dreams—they’ll help you grow strong wings, and that’s a powerful thing.

Bankie Banx
Bankie Banx

BANKIE BANX ON EARLY YEARS OF REGGAE

Man, that first album with Frankie Brags—nobody even knew what to call it! Reggae? Forget it. They called it dog food music, folksy stuff no one wanted to hear. That’s what they thought of my sound back then.

Then, boom! Suddenly, reggae’s everywhere. Marley and all those other guys’ reggae tunes became the next big thing. But none of them ever came to the Caribbean, you know? They all took off when Reagan tightened things up in Jamaica, probably headed to Miami or somewhere like that.

Three years I spent working on my music, carving my own path, refusing to fit some mould. Come 1977, things started to shift. A couple of songs with a hint of reggae, a touch of that island groove, started getting noticed. “Prince of Darkness” even hit number one; can you believe it? But here’s the thing: the industry only saw dollar signs. I didn’t care about the struggle or the countless gigs we played in school, all for nothing. There was no real support behind us.

WHAT DID BANKE BANX HAVE TO LISTEN TO

Radio, that was always the last stop for them. This powerful station we had was the only one broadcasting from morning until noon, then just news at night. The rest of the time? Filled with whatever crap they could find—all those frequencies, all that equipment—those big stations just use it instantly, you know? Here’s the thing: that’s how I heard the world. The British Top 40, blasting through the airwaves, was the first time I heard The Beatles and all those British labels. Then the Americans come in and shove these damn gospel stations down our throats with constant preaching. It was a nightmare.

But dreams, man, they don’t just die. We kept the fire burning and got the band back together for rehearsals. The music was our escape and our voice. We were going to build something real, something that mattered, and nothing was going to stop us. 

BANKIE BANX SPEAKS ABOUT HIS BAND

Well, the truth is, the band that got us that initial success was basically four guys. That’s counting me, of course. I played guitars, keyboards, and even handled the vocals. Basically, I was the one focusing on all the string instruments—the piano, organs, synths, you name it. We had a solid bass player who locked in perfectly with the guitars, and another guy who played rhythm guitar but didn’t really do anything fancy; he just laid down some good, strong blues, rock, and folk lines. That was the core of the band.

Now, for the drums, that was a separate guy who came in for the studio work, along with two girls who did backing vocals and another percussionist who really knew his stuff. So, that was the team for the album production.

Bankie Banx
Bankie Banx

BANKIE BANX ON HOW TO RECORD A NO. 1 HIT

Here’s the funny thing: after the album dropped, we realised, hey, you were absolutely right, we had four number one hits in the Caribbean! But the problem was that we were paying everyone way too much. We all lived together in a house on Anguilla, this beautiful island. But the thing was, we only did one concert a year! So, for like five years, I basically grew up surrounded by these guys, but we never actually performed here, in Anguilla. We just lived together—rented this big house with seven or eight bedrooms. Every morning we’d wake up, smoke a lot of weed, and then just rehearse all day. That was our life in Anguilla.

We’d start rehearsals at 10:30 in the morning and grind away until around noon or so. Then, some of the guys would head to the park for a soccer game. I’d join in the sport for a bit and then head back to the beach. See, fishing has always been my other passion. 

We’d have another rehearsal later in the evening, starting around 7:30. Back in Anguilla, we played some big concerts. In one month, we did a whole circuit of major venues. We even played on Bob Dylan’s yacht! 

BANKIE BANX ON HIS KIDS

Well, it’s a two-generation thing, you see. Even after they pursued other careers, most of them found their way back to music in the end. It’s like a family call. We even have a couple who got married in civil rights style—my brother, who’s a lawyer and CPA—and, wouldn’t you know it, the guy secretly loves to sing! Now, he’s out there producing more albums than me, that’s for sure.

Bankie Banx online:

 https://www.bankiebanx.net/

Interview by Andrea Maslovar. Text by Elena Leo