Talk about best-kept secrets. For a decade, Jillian Banks kept private the ethereal little synth-rock dirges she was writing in her bedroom. Only her folks and her best friend had an inkling of the wealth of material she was amassing. “Because it was like my diary, this sacred, personal and therapeutic thing that I did to make myself be able to function,” she says. But two years ago, her chum let the cat out of the bag and forwarded her pal’s musical iPhone messages to producer-manager Yung Skeeter, who coaxed the artist – now known as simply Banks – out of the shadows. Her gorgeous debut disc “Goddess” just hit shelves.
You’re not a fan of social media?
It’s not that I hate it. But there are ways to go about it that feel more comfortable and natural to me, to who I am as a person. So I think that I’m navigating that, finding my own way to make it work for me.
But instead you actually put your private phone number up online for fans to call?
Yeah. And I still have it up there. It’s like a normal phone – not a land line, just a cell. But I wanted to connect to people who connected with my music, and I didn’t want to use Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. So I just put my number up, and I didn’t think about it even being weird. And initially, I answered everybody, and I wanted to do that forever. But now it’s obviously become a bit harder.
Didn’t you receive a few calls from prison?
Uh-huh. One day, just all of a sudden, I got seven different calls from seven different prisons, and I was like “This is so weird!” We found out later that there was apparently a picture of me with my number and a little article about me in one of the magazines that they get throughout American prisons.
You didn’t return any inmate calls, did you?
No, I didn’t. But I would have talked to them if I’d picked up. But I got a really cool message from one guy once, and it was the most genuine thing. He said “I’ve been in prison for 11 years, and we’re not allowed to watch TV or listen to the radio. But I read this article about you, and you must be really special if they said all those nice things about you.”
Any scary messages?
I haven’t gotten any, honestly. I mean, Twitter can be scary as hell. I had someone on Twitter say they hoped I got cancer. So there’s nothing that can be said directly to me on a phone that could be that bad!
IF YOU GO
Treasure Island Music Festival
Where: Treasure Island, S.F. (shuttles running from 99 Grove St., S.F., begin at 11 a.m.)
When: Noon Saturday-Sunday
Tickets: $89.50 to $175
Contact: www.treasureislandfestival.com, www.ticketmaster.com
Note: Banks plays at 2:45 p.m. Sunday on the Bridge Stage.
Bridge Stage: Zedd at 7:15 p.m.; Outkast at 9:05 p.m.
Tunnel Stage: Classixx at 6:25 p.m.; St. Lucia at 8:15 p.m.
Silent Frisco Stage: Tamo at 7 p.m.; Laura Lisbona at 9 p.m.
Bridge: Alt-J at 7:30 p.m.; Massive Attack at 9:20 p.m.
Tunnel: Polica at 6:20 p.m.; Washed Out at 8:30 p.m.
Silent Frisco: Motion Potion at 6 p.m.; MPHD at 8 p.m.