How can you describe Banoffee?
“I want people to struggle with it,” admits the Melbourne breakout. Her genre-hopping music is testament to that desire. She first made a name for herself in lo-fi bedroom ambience, then on 2017’s Ripe, her swirling verses were broken up by the dissonant jerks of super-producer SOPHIE. Last year’s Muscle Memory bore a darker sensuality still. Now, ahead of debut album Look At Us Now Dad, it feels like she’s jumped out of the bedroom window and landed on her feet.
SOPHIE contributes again on this month’s single Count on Me, and Banoffee counts her as a friend – one she met in Australia, who then eased her subsequent move to Los Angeles. “There were a couple of people who took me in and became like my family,” she reminisces, also referring here to pop avant-gardist QT. “The day I moved, they called, like, ‘Where are you? We’re going out for breakfast.’” Elsewhere, she’s worked with PC Music’s abrasive umru, and will be welcoming deliciously explicit rapper CupcakKe onto a remake of Ripe. The album sees her open up to the world outside, and she puts it all down to the move: “Melbourne is about spending time on your own, being a bedroom producer. LA is a place to collaborate.”
It sounds like an alt-pop West Coast fairytale, until it doesn’t. Last October’s cut Tennis Fan was the proof. It’s a hip-swinging kiss-off to a fake friend (voiced by Empress Of). But it’s also a meditation on using opiates and benzos to get through a day in Los Angeles. The chorus taunts, “You can take that lean and Ativan/ Just to help you survive it”, but it’s less of a subtweet, and more of a self-reflection. “I reference these vices because to be honest, when I first moved here, that’s how I survived. I just took a bunch of drugs.”
Yet for all its darkness, the track has a chorus like the sunkissed sister of MØ’s Scandi-anthems. Is this long-time experimentalist now experimenting with pop stardom? She’s certainly sat through a masterclass. Last year, while Charli XCX supported Taylor Swift on tour, Banoffee joined her troupe. “I felt like I was this student coming along to learn about that world,” she reminisces.
Upcoming tracks suggest she’s picked up a few things. On Contagious, layered sing-talk vocals meet icy, arpeggiated synths. But where she might once have basked in empty space, you’ll now hear an 80s drum fill. She says with admiration for the new trade, “Writing pop music is actually much harder. Try to write a song that the majority of the world can get stuck in their heads, versus people who appreciate a certain sine wave.”
Sounds like: Rhythmic post-pop
Soundtrack for: The quieter, looser variety of the afterparty
File next to: Japanese Wallpaper, Catherine Polachek
Our favourite song: Fuckwit
Where to find her: @banoffeemusic
Look At Us Now Dad is out now via Cascine