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Devendra Banhart (born May 30, 1981) is an American singer-songwriter and visual artist. Banhart was born in Houstonmarker, Texasmarker and was raised by his mother in Venezuelamarker, until he returned to Californiamarker as a teenager. He began to study at the San Francisco Art Institutemarker in 1998, but dropped out to perform music in Europe, San Franciscomarker and Los Angelesmarker. 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 Houstonmarker, Texasmarker to a Venezuelan mother and an American father. His given name is a synonym for Indra, the Hindu god of rain and thunder, which was suggested by Prem Rawat, an Indianmarker religious leader whom Banhart's parents followed. Banhart's middle name Obi was modeled after the Star Wars character. Banhart's parents divorced two years after his birth and he moved with his mother to Caracasmarker, Venezuelamarker. His mother later remarried and Banhart's stepfather moved the family to Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker, when Banhart was 14 years old.

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

Banhart and Gira compiled an album from Banhart's recordings, and in 2002, Oh Me Oh My, which was made up of short fragments, was published by Young God Records and received favorable reviews. He recorded two other albums and an EP for the label: Rejoicing in the Hands, Niño Rojo, and The Black Babies; the releases had a simple acoustic sound. Banhart changed to XL Recordings in 2005 and released Cripple Crow, which was recorded in Bearsville Studios, New Yorkmarker and had a more elaborate sound. He recorded his second album for XL Records, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, at his home studio in Topanga, Californiamarker. The album charted on the Billboard 200 at number 115. 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.
Banhart performs with the band Vetiver and has performed in Carnegie Hall and Hollywood Bowlmarker opening for Gilberto Gil, as well as at Bonnaroo and Coachellamarker music festivals. He founded a record label, Gnomonsong, with Andy Cabic of Vetiver, in 2005. In 2007, he signed with Neil Young's manager Elliot Roberts, who also contributed vocals to Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. In 2008, Banhart released the album Surfing in a collaborative project with multi-instrumentalist Greg Rogove named Megapuss, and dated actress Natalie Portman for a few months. In 2009, he signed to Warner/Reprise and plans to release a new album, What Will We Be. He has, at the band's request, produced a remix of Oasis' "(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady". Along with "Neighbors", Devendra remixed the Phoenix song "Rome" off of their 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.

Drawings by Banhart were featured in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Artmarker and in the Centre for Fine Arts, Brusselsmarker. He is a collector of music artifacts. Banhart wrote the foreword and appears in his friend Lauren Dukoff's book Family: Photographs by Lauren Dukoff.

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.

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.


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

"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."



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)
  • Baby (2009)

Collaborations and compilations



External links

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