Music Notes: California Dreaming with Banta

May 6, 2016

Since hearing Banta, we officially believe in love at first listen. Sunny and sweet with a retro charm, the Los Angeles-based band’s indie-pop feels like a long-lost friend, the kind of music you could spend a summer with. We were super excited to have them play at our Newport Beach store opening party, where we were able to catch up with frontwoman and founder Sharaya Mikael.

First things first: How did the name Banta come about?
My original guitar player was a Kiwi, from New Zealand, and he has a fantastic accent.  We were having some silly conversation about my awful stage “banter,” and how if only I had a great accent my witty “banta” wouldn’t be a problem. Pretty sure we were tipsy in the pool and I just thought it was “Brilliant, dahhhling, brilliant.”

One of our favorite songs of the night was Three Feet From Gold.
I can’t remember exactly where I heard the story, but it goes something like this: There’s this gold miner back in the day, digging for years and years getting nothing. He eventually gets discouraged, and sells the land for dirt cheap. The guy who buys the property picks up where he left off, digs three more feet and strikes gold.  Maybe it’s just some sort of proverb, but when I heard it, it connected with me.  It’s been my theme song to myself, reminding me not to give up because you never know what great things could be waiting around the next corner.

What artists have influenced you?
There are so many it’s really hard to list. But I think the ones that have influenced me in that “memorize every word of their work” way have been The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Fiona Apple, Genesis, Erykah Badu, The Pretenders, and Tom Petty, to name a few. But I am constantly influenced by current stuff, as well. I love the throwback sound of the Allah-Las and Tame Impala. Love what Lord Huron has been up to. And just recently discovered Springtime Carnivore, which I really dig. The list goes on and on. Maybe I should make a playlist? [Editor’s note: Yes, please!]

And how about style influences?
I’m pretty sure I was brainwashed by Nick at Nite as a child—I Dream of Jeanie, Mary Tyler Moore, and Bewitched were my absolute favorites. I’ve been obsessed with the ’60s/’70s aesthetic ever since

What’s your go-to outfit to perform in?
My staple stage outfits are long vintage, brightly colored, crazy patterned dresses. I like that I can move around and feel totally comfortable. The polyester aspect is not so practical because it gets so hot, but that hasn’t stopped me yet.  I love shopping for and collecting unique pieces, and performing is my chance to play dress up.

Your new album, Dark Charms, comes out in June. Can you tell us a bit about it?
It was pieced together over the course of almost three years. When I originally dreamed up the project, I tracked a six-song EP with my friend Andrew Stonestreet in Portland. With those recordings in hand, I went to LA and basically started soliciting players. I was new to the city and a total nerd—I would send musicians I met at parties an email with the tracks like, “Hey, wanna be in my band?”

Are you officially a California girl now?
LA is a city of dreamers and creatives and it makes for this super positive contagious energy. My friends here are writers, painters, fashion designers, actors, and poets—I have never been so inspired by the people I am surrounded by. I’ve been feeding off of that energy since I moved here four years ago, and can’t imagine leaving anytime soon.

Love the look? We have patterned dresses aplenty!

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Photography: Taryn Grey