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  who is banco de gaia?

banco de gaia, literally translated as 'world bank', is primarily a one man band - toby marks, though its size expands or contracts depending on whom toby needs at the time, or whether he is touring. located in the somerset countryside in the u.k., toby has created music since the early 1992. compilation appearances and some occasional remix work got banco de gaia's name recognised on record labels such as planet dog, in europe, and both mammoth and ultimate records in the united states. three studio albums ensued that were only ever released on cassette.

then, in 1994, came the first major release - maya. this has been followed by three other studio releases and one live album. banco de gaia is currently signed under its own record label - gecko. in the u.k. especially banco de Gaia is as well known for their live performances as their studio albums, with regular appearances at major festivals such as glastonbury.

describing banco de gaia in 1999, marks stated that "one thing i'm really pleased about is that, for whatever reason, i've avoided being fashionable. that's made it very hard over the years - to get press, get attention, get stuff out there - but it also means that what i've done is write music first and foremost and worry about whether it's ambient or trance or whatever else afterwards.". this music-first attitude is also apparent through marks' strong interaction with his fans, primarily via his web site.

note: in the faq i will refer to banco de gaia as 'them' even though it currently only consists of toby marks.

  is banco de gaia just like deep forest or enigma?

while banco de gaia have the same underlying reasoning as enigma and deep forest - that is to mix 'world music' (chants and ethnic instrumentation) with electronic sounds generated by keyboards - their sound is quite different. one way of describing banco de gaia's music may be to cross eat static with some of deep forest's work but even this can be debatable. no single banco de gaia album could be closely matched to one of deep forest's or enigma's.

  does banco de gaia plagiarise?

in a 1999 interview by inkblot magazine toby discussed using cultural sources by stating "personally, I don't have a problem with it, because i don't think i'm being disrespectful. i don't understand the cultures that i'm taking music from particularly well, but i don't understand what goes on in nottingham, or new york, or paris. so to me, whether it's venezuela or northern england, it's as foreign, or as close to home. i just try to take the sounds and music as music, i don't think about the political correctness of that.". while banco de gaia have never stated where samples are sourced from, no legal action is known of. it is known that a number of samples, particularly on the big men cry album, were done by toby himself. for example the track gates does windows was toby sampling his gardener!

  when is the next banco de gaia album due?

unlike major artists who may release a new album every three years banco de gaia simply releases them when they have created the music! this time ranges anywhere from one year to three.

the next studio album is currently being worked on. while no dates have been released yet, early 2004 is most likely. 

  who is toby marks?

toby marks appears to prefer keeping himself to himself. his website takes a humorous look at working out his details, prompting you to try a 'choose your own adventure' style to separating fiction from fact. choosing the right answers you learn that; (1) he was born in 1964 in south london and went to an old-fashioned boys school; (2) in 1978 he was a drummer in a heavy metal band; (3) in 1986 he lived in portugal playing beatles songs in bars to tourists; and (4) in 1989 he bought his first sampler and recorded a tune called maxwell house.

what is known is that toby gained his interest in music early on as a child. at this stage he sung in choirs and played the drums. at 14 he formed a heavy metal band at which time he learnt the guitar. contrary to popular opinion, toby is not skilled as a keyboard player.

as years went on toby learnt about jazz, folk, and something called 'house' which he came to love. at 18 he left south london, eventually going to university in warwickshire to study philoisophy. here he soon learnt that it wasn't about questioning god's existence as expected. as a consolation he went travelling instead, visiting egypt and morocco. then, in 1998 (so when he was 24) and back on u.k. soil, he started hearing hip hop and acid house on the radio. he heard a track, paid in full by eric b and rakim, which featured samples of israeli singer called ofra haza over hip hop loops. the calling to become banco de gaia had been made.

today toby still lives in the uk. he left south london at the age of 18 and seems to have lived in the countryside ever since. today he lives near cheddar in the south west. here he works away at his studio new world bank (his old one was just called world bank) trying to unique and surreal soundscapes. a self confessed lover of them he stated in 2000 "i love having the freedom and the possibility of these huge, pseudonym-phonic soundscapes - big, grand, multi-layered stuff. unfortunately, i'm a bit of a sucker for that; i'm not very good at leaving space. i just love sticking on more and more until a track can't take anymore."

when not in the studio he is known to jet off all over the world to do dj dates or live gigs. in 1998 toby set up his own record label, disco gecko, and all banco de gaia releases are now released on it in the europe.

on a more personal level toby believes that "spirituality is great, but most organized religions on the whole are full of shit. but somewhere in the origins of most of those religions there was something true and something important. we need to look beyond our everyday reality.". he's a cancerian by the way! as of 1999 his 5 favourite records of all time were rock bottom by robert wyatt, adventures beyond the ultraworld by the orb, ok computer by radiohead, side one of wish you were here and side two of meddle by pink floyd, and manhattan skyline by aha (12" extended version). he is married to a lady called sandy.

  who is ted duggan?

since 1997 ted duggan has been the drummer for banco de gaia.

the track sixty sixteen (for karina), off the igizeh album, was for ted's wife who died of leukemia at the age of 31 in july 2000.

  who is jennifer folker?

jennifer folker, real name jennifer stroker, is a female vocalist toby met in seattle, washington, usa some time in 1999. she provided vocals for the igizeh album, on the track glove puppet. this track first appeared as an instrumental on the magical sounds of banco de gaia. she is also both co-writer and vocalist on obsidian.

jennifer is based in portland, oregon, usa. to date she has provided vocals for lowpass, king black acid, tweaker, govinda (on the echo of eden album), imogene, drummatica, and dahlia. as of september 2003 she can be seen as part of dahlia in portland, oregon, usa, every tuesday night at the ohm club. dahlia has 2 albums out to date - emotional cycles and vases.

  has banco de gaia ever performed with other artists?

banco de gaia has not yet collaborated with other established bands.

  has banco de gaia toured?


banco de gaia has performed live a number of times, including a number of festivals. most notably are banco de gaia's appearances at the glastonbury festival in the u.k., the 1996 performance of which was released as live at glastonbury.

  has banco de gaia won any awards?

no known awards or nominations have been presented to banco de gaia.

  is banco de gaia on the internet?

toby is regularly on the internet and happily promotes both his website (http://www.banco.co.uk/) and his email address (it's info@banco.co.uk)! he started his own official web site in 1994 with the intent of it being fun from the outset. an example of this joviality is his "choose your own adventure" style game that you can play to learn some biographical information about him.

both marks and duggan, his drummer, regularly contribute to a forum that is on the official site. banco de gaia is an example of an artist understanding new technology both inside and outside the music studio!

  how can i meet banco de gaia?

short of working for their record company, being their butcher, winning a competition, or some such thing, you are only likely to see banco de gaia whilst touring.

copyright 1998-2003 gavin stok. all rights reserved