Boomshots: Omari Banks
Can you tell us a little bit about Moonsplash, your role in it and how the music festival has played a role in your life and career?
I’m a Moonsplash baby. It’s a big event and it’s grown over the years. I’ve seen the evolution. Moonsplash has been really instrumental in my life. I’ve been able to see some of the biggest reggae acts in the world—John Mayer made an appearance a couple of years ago. I got to see huge names and it inspired me. I have always admired musicianship of the people. I’ve seen musicians come in and out the house—that has to have an impact on a kid. Moon Splash has had a really big impact on the island of Anguilla. In terms of music, it’s the longest running privately owned music festival in the Caribbean. I’ve seen the determination and sacrifices that my dad has had to endure to ensure that Moonsplash continues. It has played an enormous, tremendous role and has really shaped my musical views and development.
If you had to pick one special moment from all 24 Moonsplash festivals, what would it be?
It’s hard to put it down to one. There are so many, from Marley to Buju Banton, Cartel. One of the best moments for me was when Freddie McGregor performed for quite a long time. He probably came on at two; I think everyone went home around six in the morning. Just being able to meet somebody who was so passionate about their music, someone who is very humble. Every Moonsplash is special. I got to meet all of my dad’s friends from back in the day, but that moment definitely took Moonsplash to another level.
Anguilla is a special place to have been raised. What it is your greatest lesson from your home?
I think lessons are learned through experience. I am blessed to be talented and have the opportunity to do my passions, which is cricket and now music. I learned a lot because of cricket. I can’t speak about my music without cricket. Anguilla is place where you have to work hard to excel. We don’t have a history of a lot of people being known internationally—with the exception of maybe my dad and, in recent times, Cheryl Proctor. What I’ve learned through my experience is that you have to go out and get it yourself. I think that within itself is a principle of hard work and determination. Growing up on an island, if you want get out there and be seen by the wider world, you’ve got to have a strong work ethic.
What is on your horizon?
I am going to Jamaica and at the end of the month to record three singles. The first, “Unafraid”,” will be released in Luxembourg. I’m looking forward to traveling and performing in the Caribbean, US and Europe.
What is the last app that you downloaded?
Viber—I downloaded it two seconds ago. [laughs]
Last few songs you played?
“Gravity,” John Mayer; “Europa,” Carlos Santana; “Still in Love With You,” Thin Lizzy; “Come Back to Bed,” Gramps Morgan; “Diamonds Are Forever,” Jay-Z; “Patience,” Nas; and “We Are The Champions,” Queen.
Tell me one un-Google-able fact about yourself.
I like to eat. A lot. [laughs]
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Do it the same way you did it.
Check out Omari’s video for “Jehovah Message” from his debut album, Move On (Big Banko Music).