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Devendra Banhart

Banhart in 2007
Background information
Born May 30, 1981 (1981-05-30) (age 28)
Houston, Texas United States
Genres Lo-fi, folk, Freak Folk, New Weird America
Occupations Musician, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 2002–present
Labels Warner Bros.
Young God
Associated acts Vetiver, Beck, MGMT

Devendra Obi Banhart (born May 30, 1981) is an American singer-songwriter and visual artist. Banhart was born in Houston, Texas and was raised by his mother in Venezuela, until he returned to California as a teenager. He began to study at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1998, but dropped out to perform music in Europe, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Banhart released his debut album in 2002, continuing to record his material on the Young God and XL labels, as well as other work on compilations and collaborations.


Early life and career

Banhart was born May 30, 1981 in Houston, Texas to a Venezuelan mother and an American father.[1] His given name is a synonym for Indra, the Hindu god of rain and thunder, which was suggested by Prem Rawat, an Indian religious leader whom Banhart's parents followed.[2] Banhart's middle name Obi was modeled after the Star Wars character.[3] Banhart's parents divorced two years after his birth and he moved with his mother to Caracas, Venezuela.[4] His mother later remarried and Banhart's stepfather moved the family to Los Angeles, California,[4] when Banhart was 14 years old.[5]

In 1998, Banhart began studying at the San Francisco Art Institute on a scholarship[4] while living in The Castro, San Francisco's gay neighborhood.[6] He began to busk instead of attending classes and played his first show in a church at a gay wedding.[5] Banhart dropped out of art school in 2000[4] and left San Francisco after the dot-com bust worsened the city's economy.[5] He moved to Paris, France, over the summer and opened shows for indie rock bands.[4] Banhart returned to the United States in the fall of 2000 and played music in San Francisco and Los Angeles, until he was discovered by Michael Gira, owner of Young God Records,[4] after Siobhan Duffy, Gira's wife, bought a copy of Banhart's demo CD The Charles C. Leary and gave it to Gira.[2]

Banhart and Gira compiled an album from Banhart's recordings,[2] and in 2002, Oh Me Oh My, which was made up of short fragments,[7] was published by Young God Records and received favorable reviews.[8] He recorded two other albums and an EP for the label: Rejoicing in the Hands, Niño Rojo, and The Black Babies;[8] the releases had a simple acoustic sound.[6] Banhart changed to XL Recordings in 2005[8] and released Cripple Crow, which was recorded in Bearsville Studios, New York and had a more elaborate sound.[6] He recorded his second album for XL Records, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, at his home studio in Topanga, California.[8] The album charted on the Billboard 200 at number 115.[9] The album's song "Lover" was featured in the soundtrack of the movie Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which included a cameo appearance by Banhart.[10]

Banhart performs at the 2009 Coachella Festival.

Banhart performs with the band Vetiver[1] and has performed in Carnegie Hall[11] and Hollywood Bowl opening for Gilberto Gil,[12] as well as at Bonnaroo and Coachella music festivals.[5] He founded a record label, Gnomonsong, with Andy Cabic of Vetiver, in 2005.[1][13] In 2007, he signed with Neil Young's manager Elliot Roberts, who also contributed vocals to Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon.[2][14] In 2008, Banhart released the album Surfing in a collaborative project with multi-instrumentalist Greg Rogove named Megapuss,[15] and dated actress Natalie Portman for a few months.[15] In 2009, he signed to Warner/Reprise and plans to release a new album, What Will We Be.[16] He has, at the band's request, produced a remix of Oasis' "(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady".[17] Along with "Neighbors", Devendra remixed the Phoenix song "Rome" from their 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.[18]

Drawings by Banhart were featured in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and in the Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels.[19][20] He is a collector of music artifacts.[5] Banhart wrote the foreword and appears in his friend Lauren Dukoff's book Family: Photographs by Lauren Dukoff.[21][22]

On September 4, 2009, Beck announced his second Record Club covers album, Songs of Leonard Cohen. Banhart will contribute, alongside MGMT, Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother and Binki Shapiro of Little Joy.[23]

On October 27, 2009, Banhart released What Will We Be, his first record on Warner/Reprise. Spin Magazine gave the album a favorable review with 3.5 out of 5 possible stars. [24]


Banhart is associated with the New Weird America genre[25] and his music was called "free associative work".[7] His style has been described as psych folk,[26] avant-folk, freak folk,[7] Lo-Fi, and alternative folk.[8]

"Banhart's albums offer ashram-appropriate guitar strums, trippy-hippie tone poetry and, if you're lucky, at least one tune where he sings from the perspective of a rodent."[27]



Singles and EPs

  • The Black Babies (2003)
  • Sight To Behold/Be Kind (2004)
  • Little Yellow Spider (2004)
  • At The Hop (2004)
  • I Feel Just Like A Child (2005)
  • Heard Somebody Say (2005)
  • Carmensita (2007)
  • Baby (2009)
  • Glory Days (2010)
  • Up On High In The Sky Time (2010)

Collaborations and compilations


  1. ^ a b c "Devendra Banhart Biography". NME. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  2. ^ a b c d Campion, Chris (2007-08-12). "Stranger than folk". The Observer. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  3. ^ Bemis, Alec Hanley (2005-08-28). "The Soft Revolution". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Kamps, Garrett (2003-01-08). "Man of La Mantra". SF Weekly. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Beck, John (2009-04-17). "The wide, way-out world of Devendra". The Press Democrat. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  6. ^ a b c Vaziri, Aidin (2005-10-26). "Sweet, shocking, mesmerizing -- Devendra Banhart follows his sprawling, childlike musical muse". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  7. ^ a b c Bemis, Alec Hanley (2004-12-12). "Freak Folk's Very Own Pied Piper". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  8. ^ a b c d e MacNeil, Jason; Loftus, Johnny. "Devendra Banhart - Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  9. ^ "Artist Chart History - Devendra Banhart". Billboard. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  10. ^ "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Offers A Devendra Banhart Cameo, New Vampire Weekend". Stereogum. 2008-08-14. Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  11. ^ Nelson, Steffie (2009-08-09). "Lauren Dukoff's 'Family' photos of free spirits". Los Angeles Times.,0,67889.story. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  12. ^ Cromelin, Richard (2008-06-28). "Devendra Banhart in tune with Gilberto Gil". Los Angeles Times.,0,6949298.story. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  13. ^ Vozick-Levinson, Simon (2009-04-13). "Papercuts' 'You Can Have What You Want': Stream this indie gem here". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  14. ^ "Elliot Roberts: Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  15. ^ a b "Devendra Banhart splits with Natalie Portman". NME. 2008-09-25. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  16. ^ "Devendra Banhart's new album details revealed". NME. 2009-08-03. Retrieved 2009-08-03. 
  17. ^ "Oasis ask Devendra Banhart to remix them - audio". NME. 2009-06-10. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  18. ^ "Listen: Devendra Banhart Remixes Phoenix". Pitchfork. 2009-09-28. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  19. ^ "Abstract Rhythms: Paul Klee and Devendra Banhart". San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  20. ^ "It's not only Rock 'n' Roll, Baby!". Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels. Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  21. ^ Nelson, Steffie. "'Family': Devendra Banhart and other free spirits". Los Angeles Times.,0,6522867.photogallery. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  22. ^ "Family". Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Devendra Banhart 'What Will Be' Review". October 27, 2009. 
  25. ^ Rutledge, James (2004-11-05). "Joanna Newsom and the New Weird America". BBC. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  26. ^ Hall, Nicholas (2009-04-07). "Devendra Banhart's footloose folk". SF Weekly. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  27. ^ "Devendra Banhart on". October 27, 2009. 
  28. ^

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Devendra Banhart (born May 30, 1981) is a folk musician and songwriter.

From Rejoicing in the Hands

  • And because my teeth don't bite, I can take them out dancing
    I can take my little teeth out and show them a real good time
    • -This Beard is for Siobhan
  • Each strand of her hair
    Is really insect eyes
    And each hole in her tongue
    Is always occupied
    By the milk of the sun
    • -Insect Eyes

From Niño Rojo

  • Little yellow spider, laughing at the snow.
    Maybe that spider knows something i don't know,
    'cause i'm goddamn cold.
  • And hey there little sexy pig, you made it with a man
    And now you've got a little kid with hooves instead of hands.
    • -Little Yellow Spider
  • Cook me in your breakfast,
    and put me on your plate,
    'cause you know i taste great.
  • Put me in your dry dreams
    or put me in your wet
    If you haven't yet.
    • -At the Hop

From Cripple Crow

  • I heard somebody say that the war ended today, but everybody knows it's going still.
    • -Heard Somebody Say
  • I see so many little boys I wanna marry, I see plenty little kids I've yet to have.
    • Little Boys
  • Now if I lived in my land, which I do, if I lived in Iceland, if I lived in Greensland I'd still have Chinese children, but out of my ears my little grey baby hears.
    • -Chinese Children
  • Cripple crow say something for our grieving, where do we go once we start leaving. Well close that wound or else keep on bleeding and change your tune, it's got no meaning.
    • -Cripple Crow
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