TITUS BANK has a voice that can stop an audience in its tracks. The Vancouver-based pop adventurer can effortlessly shift from a smooth croon to a soulful vibrato to a note-perfect howl — arresting and inviting; confident yet vulnerable. His awe-inspiring voice was the cornerstone of Titus’s wildly ambitious 2017 project when he aimed to write, record and release 365 songs throughout the year. He called it the 365 Songwriting Challenge — but by the end of the year, he had only written 185, barely half of his original goal.
“I would work a full day at my day job, get home and then start writing these songs. I would go until 3 or 4 in the morning, however long it took,” Titus remembers. Laughing, he adds. “I kept asking, ‘Why am I doing this to myself?!’”
Even though he fell short of his original goal, 185 songs is still a hell of a lot — that’s a lifetime’s worth of material for many artists. Not every song was magic, of course, but many of them were gorgeous folk ballads or towering R&B-inspired anthems. Full of plaintive guitar, nimble keys and the occasional ukulele, the stripped-down bedroom arrangements highlighted the aching power of Titus’s voice.
Titus has now entered the next phase of an already prolific music career. With two singles out that have garnered praise from the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders and massive support from editorial playlist curators internationally, it is evident that Titus has tapped into something special as a result of refining his prolific songwriting ability into a clear and impressive artistic vision.
Five years on from the 365 Songwriting Challenge, Titus is left with positive thoughts about the experience. For one, it put him in touch with a number of similar-minded genre-twisters who were impressed with his sound and vision—including album collaborators Valley, and Cayne McKenzie (Big Kill/We Are The City). Hitting a daily quota isn’t so much a part of the process these days, though. While Titus has certainly proven he can come up with folk, pop, and R&B-leaning hooks at a reasonably prolific clip, his approach these days is more measured and mature.
“After the 365 challenge, I started focusing more on quality rather than quantity, like, ‘OK, I know I can write a ton of decent songs, but how can turn those into great songs?”
Check out the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
TITUS BANK: I’m from a small town in British Columbia called Penticton. I grew up in the church and for almost my whole life I was either playing in the church band or leading the church band. Eventually, in highschool I started to perform at local coffee shops or busking at the local farmers market. I didn’t really have any ability past myself and my guitar, so for the majority of my career as a musician I wrote and performed as a singer-songwriter.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
TITUS BANK: For the most part I am entirely self-taught. I did grow up in quite a musical family so you could say that I was heavily influenced by all my other siblings who were also diving deep into learning guitar, playing piano, performing in bands, etc
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘TITUS BANK’?
TITUS BANK: Early on I was influenced heavily by the indie music scene in Vancouver. I started diving into all the great bands of the indie boom in Vancouver such as Mother Mother, Said The Whale and We Are The City. My full name is Titus Calderbank, and after performing under my full name for a very long time I decided to cut it shorter to be easier to remember and be understood when I’m performing live 🙂
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
TITUS BANK: Ever since I was a kid I knew that I would be doing something in music, I just didn’t know what it would sound like. As I’ve discovered myself more and learned how to produce, my eyes have been opened to the endless possibilities and feelings that can be crafted and formed when going above and beyond into soundscapes, samples and any other sounds that inspire me. My sound now is honed towards more traditional pop while being tied down with a heart for indie music. My goal for my music is to be loud and emphatic, but also quiet and emotional, and above all honest.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
TITUS BANK: I think music and being creative in general is probably the most important thing in my life, it’s my purpose. So it depends on where I am at in life. Sometimes I want to say something about the world and its state, and other times I need to vent and tell parts of my story, whether it’s for me or for others to learn depending on the day. The beauty of songwriting is it can be many things all at once.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
TITUS BANK: I think everyone needs a purpose or a dream, whether or not it comes to fruition isn’t the whole story. There is something powerful about devoting your life to something and not expecting something in return. Now, I would be lying if I didn’t say there are times when I think about how many years of my life I’ve devoted to my career and wishing I was more successful, but overall I think I have gotten back what I put into it in terms of having a purpose in life.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
TITUS BANK: Over the years I’ve toyed with many ways of writing. But usually I start with some sort of seed; anything that can inspire and grow into something else. Whether that be a little melody that has popped into my head or just a song title I’ve made up. For my most recent release “Radio” it spawned from a line in my notes app, “Love is only better on the radio”. Myself and Jack Newsome took that line and talked and fleshed out this cutesy song about being young, awkward and in love 🙂
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
TITUS BANK: Over the pandemic I went through a pretty serious season of depression and I think the hardest thing during that time was about maintaining the drive to pursue a goal or dream that my past self had committed to even if my body and mind couldn’t even muster the strength to get out of bed. The fact that I couldn’t play shows or that it was a bad time to release music didn’t help in the slightest either. Finally though, everything has started opening up here in Vancouver and putting out new music has reignited the drive and hope in me for this crazy dream of mine to be an artist and songwriter.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
TITUS BANK: I’ve had many times in my music career when I know that it is a monumental moment I’ll look back upon with great fondness. My favorite of recent times was back in December of 2021 I got the incredible opportunity to open for one of my childhood favorite bands “Mother Mother”. As I stood on stage at the Commodore Ballroom I remembered moving to Vancouver with the sole purpose of becoming an artist and songwriter. This was a stand out moment because Mother Mother was one the very first bands from Vancouver I had ever listened to when I was very young, so it felt very poetic that I had gotten to the point where I was opening up for them. It was a surreal moment to say the least.
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