With the ink dry on a new partnership between them, their imprint 31 East, and Universal Music Canada, globe-trotting duo Zacharie “Soké” Raymond and Yannick “KNY Factory” Rastogi are looking to expand their reach in their home country. That means not only dropping a steady number of singles as the title artists, but also seeking out up-and-coming talent across Canada. They’re also looking to branch into live performance after making their name in the studio.
“It made sense to partner up with UMC,” said Raymond. “It goes in line with our plan to develop artists in Canada and make the place a great destination for artists to stay and develop. We want writing camps here, and there’s so much talent that leaves for New York and Los Angeles.”
“We’ve been able to accomplish things in other countries, and now it’s time to do more in our country.”
International markets have come calling for the pair in the past, but for family and financial reasons, they’ve chosen to stay in Montreal. After co-producing a track on Nicky Jam’s massively successful comeback record Fénix, working with Sean Paul and dropping remixes for Gorillaz and David Guetta, Banx & Ranx really made a name for themselves a year later on UK smash “Answerphone” with Ella Eyre. The duo hasn’t stopped since, working with Dua Lipa, Kojo Funds, and more. In all, they’ve quietly amassed over 2 billion streams and 1 billion YouTube views.
They’ve also kept an ear to the ground locally, showing up on francophone rapper Loud’s last album and Imposs/Marie-Mai collab “Sans lendemain.”
Their first single under the UMC partnership is “Headphones” with Montreal electropop singer Rêve. It’s not their first collaboration together, and there’s more coming up.
“I think the scene in Montreal has gotten better,” said Raymond. “The sound quality and songwriting has improved. Everything’s a little more elevated these days.”
Rastogi said they were impressed with Rêve from the moment they first heard her demos. Her music lets them explore more direct electronic dance territory. They’ve already found success together on “CTRL + ALT + DEL,” which hit 10 million plays on Spotify.
“We thought, Rêve can really sing and her lyrics are good,” Rastogi said. “To me, she’s a star. She has the energy and she’s a nice person. She’s outgoing and not afraid to work hard. It’s really just the beginning of our journey with her.”
In recent years, the pair has proven they can go beyond the Caribbean sound they’re known for, and as they scour the country for new talent to work with, they’re looking to broaden their sonic palettes further. Although artists do sometimes come requesting the full Banx & Ranx treatment, Soké and KNY are looking for creatives who are a little more hands-on.
“There’s a sense of passion when developing an artist. You get to discover this hunger,” said Raymond. “A good example is Preston Pablo, who we just signed. It’s different than when you’re working with established artists. When you’re developing artists, you build a special bond.”
In the coming year, Banx & Ranx have more singles coming, both as the main artist and behind the boards. There’s also a live show they’re working on, which involves finding the right voices to accurately capture their varied discography.
“We were signed in the UK for a long time, and now we’re really looking to beginning our journey back home,” said Rastogi. “We’ve been able to accomplish things in other countries, and now it’s time to do more in our country. It starts with ‘Headphones’ and we’ll see if it entertains people.”