Julian Banks Group Blends Tradition with Modern Grooves

Growing up in Canberra, Julian Banks began enjoying music in high school. It was here that he met band mate (and real life mate) James Hauptmann. With James on drums and Julian on tenor saxophone and writing the items, their friendship and musical connection grew. The duo joined with Christopher Hale, who plays 6-string semi-acoustic bass guitar to type the Julian Banks Trio and released their first, self-titled, album in 2014.

In 2015, Julian Banks Trio was invited to play at the Ubud Village Jazz Festival in Bali. It was here that Julian was launched to Cepi Kusmiadi, a talented Indonesian percussionist who joined the band for his or her Bali gigs. Enjoying the Kendang Sunda, a set of two-headed drums that’s traditionally played within Sundanese gamelan orchestra, Cepi introduced a new sound to the group. “I immediately fell in love with the sound of these drums and I was blown away by Cepi’s sense of musicianship”, says Julian. Soon after this gig Cepi officially joined the band, which grew from a trio to a quartet and have become the Julian Banks Group.

Julian was so inspired by the sounds of Cepi and his Kendang Sunda that on his return dwelling he began to put in writing music that incorporated guitars, saxophone and drums to highlight the traditional Indonesian percussion. Shying away from any rigid labels, the Julian strives to “write tunes which have an almost ‘song’ like really feel to them”. Comprising of robust melodies and groove as well as some folky sounds, their eclectic and distinctive ‘Indie-Jazz’ sound is certainly distinctive to the group. The Julian Banks Group has expanded again to include James Gilligan on bass guitar, who brings even more depth to the band’s sound.

Though the aim of Julian Banks Teams wasn’t to create cross-cultural trade or turn out to be an emblem of profitable bilateral relationships, the buddieships they’ve shaped and their collective passion for music is undeniably that. Regardless of their different mom nations and cultural backgrounds, Julian says “Cepi and I are basically doing precisely the identical thing with our lives”. He attributes their successful collaborations because of real mateship and the band’s strong musical companionships.

Last 12 months Julian Banks Group returned to Ubud Village Jazz Pageant, where in addition they recorded their present album. Julian describes the album as a “beautiful blend of all of the instruments and Cepi’s effervescent magic on this stunning traditional Indonesian instrument creates the perfect bed for the fashionable grooves and melodic sensibility of the compositions”. Recording the album the day after finishing a grueling hike up Gunung Agung in East Bali. The boys decided to name their album AGUNG, in “tribute to our adventure on the good volcano”.

With help from the Australia Council for the Arts, Julian Banks Group is returning to Ubud Village Jazz Pageant and enjoying a number of gigs in Ubud and Candidasa in Bali this month. The band is worked up to be back and enjoying for the various and multicultural audience that is drawn to Bali. Along with these appearances, Julian Banks Group will be hitting the road for a number of gigs in Australia as well as recording new music.

If you happen to didn’t think the band was working hard sufficient, on top of these gigs and recording, the band shall be giving workshops at Yayasan Pendidikan Dria-Raba, a not-for-profit school for blind children in Bali. The Australian Consulate in Bali set up YPDR and has supplied devices to the students to learn and apply taking part in music. Julian hopes that the band can quickly expand their interplay with Indonesian audiences, particularly with festivals in Sumatra, Lombok and Java.