Devendra Banhart has announced his forthcoming album, Flying Wig, for September 22 2023 via Mexican Summer. The release marks Banhart’s 11th studio album – his first with Mexican Summer –  and the first full length since the universally lauded Ma in 2019. It is also the first time the acclaimed singer/songwriter has collaborated with Welsh musician and producer Cate Le Bon – together they explore new musical terrain, with a bold, synth-heavy sound that will come as something of a revelation to longtime fans. Banhart’s gift for songwriting remains at the forefront, but the production and arrangements delve into previously unchartered territory. Along with today’s album news, Banhart has also released the first track, and an accompanying music video from the album, “Twin.”



Of the darkly enthralling “Twin” music video, director Matt Muir shares: “When Devendra and I originally discussed the creative approach to the ‘Twin’ music video, I really responded to the idea of searching for connection. We talked about the strange comfort of knowing that other people have experienced the pain or entrapment that we may be experiencing. I wanted to explore a framework where Devendra’s character is trapped in a cycle, but still finds beauty in the execution. Stylistically, we were definitely inspired by neon-soaked 1980’s neo-noir films, but we still wanted the video to feel somewhat timeless. We also left a lot of room for improvisation on the set, to make sure Devendra’s unique sense of humour was evident in the storytelling. He was such a supportive and inventive collaborator during the entire process, and I think that really shines through in the final piece.” 

video still
“Twin” video still

To coincide with today’s album announcement and track release, Banhart has unveiled plans for an upcoming world tour in the autumn. The tour kicks off in October with a string of dates in North America and is followed by a European leg including a UK date at The Troxy in London on November 15, before wrapping back on the North American West Coast. For more information, please visit

Banhart, who has in recent years established himself as a lauded visual artist in tandem with his work in music, has been crafting intricate and captivating albums since 2002. Flying Wig is a landscape of recurrent dualities; a can of paradoxes, a box of worms. What goes up, must come down, eventually.

This entire record was inspired by Kobayashi Issa’s poem 

This dewdrop world-

Is a dewdrop world, 

And yet, 

And yet…

I’ve never read a more concise and clear illustration of hope… it just sweeps me away by the breadth of its scope…. as lonely as we might feel at our saddest, angriest, most desperate, most frustrated, most hopeless, most heartbroken moments, we have all felt that, everyone on earth, our ancestors before us, and those that will come after, have or will feel that…. The “and yet , and yet” is our ability to face despair with hope, to keep on failing and loving ….”

“It’s about transmuting despair into gratitude, wounds into forgiveness, grief into praise,” ruminates Banhart. Gliding through the air, the whisper of two buoyant words symbolically and at times, literally appear — “and yet…” — colouring in the melancholic outlines and replacing them with a bonded optimism.

Battle-scarred by life and loss, Banhart found himself despondent, folded inwards; finding it difficult to speak, let alone sing. Banhart explains, “My whole life has been filled with sadness. Everything I do in life is to help cope with that sadness.

Turning his back on Los Angeles’ wailing sirens, he packed the bones that would become Flying Wig’s songs into a bag and took to the secluded woodland of a Topanga canyon. The album is the actualization of a precious friendship with the acclaimed solo artist, multi-instrumentalist, Mexican Summer stablemate and producer of Flying Wig, Cate Le Bon. The pair’s coming together is one prophesied by the mirror-image titles of their early solo albums (Banhart’s 2002 Oh Me Oh My to Le Bon’s 2009 Me Oh My) and a tenderness built on crude haircuts (“we finally met, soon after she was cutting my hair with a fork and that was that”) and home-made tattoos — but never previously translated into the recording studio. “She’s the only person I wanted to make this record with,” Banhart admits. “We set out to make a record sonically unlike anything I have made before – with a new creative partner at the helm. We definitely wanted a new sound, electronic yet organic and warm…we wanted to draw out and emphasise the emotional aspect of a synthesiser.”

The redwood and pine-surrounded cabin studio (once owned by Neil Young) where Banhart was “constantly listening to the Grateful Dead” somehow birthed something slick, city pop-adjacent and Eno-esque. The product of a ritualistic creative practice that melts down and re-casts as it mulls, the stuff of sadness beautified as it changes shape — culminating in a record that “sounds like getting a very melancholic massage, or weeping, but in a really nice outfit…if I’m going to cry”, Banhart mentions, “I want to do it in my best dress.

Wearing, for much of the writing and recording, an Issey Miyake dress the colour of the spring sky — a gift from Le Bon’s own wardrobe — and his grandmother’s pearls, Banhart found himself emboldened, protected; an experience “like returning to from where I started to sing when I was a kid” (as recently emulated onstage at an emotional homecoming gig in Caracas — Banhart’s first ever Venezuelan show). He elaborates: “I first started singing in my mother’s dresses when I was nine years old. It wasn’t about sexuality, just connecting with my feminine side and feeling that I had permission… It felt like a power. And that’s a very safe and comfortable place for me. I think a lot of the record is that – searching for hope, searching for a safe feeling.

Nowhere more than in the album’s title is this sense of joyful abandon most strongly distilled. The real wig that inspired it was, explains Banhart, a birthday present from the artist Isabelle Albuquerque. “I placed it on a mic stand and it just hovered there for months in the middle of my living room. Over time, it began to take on a playfully eerie presence and I started to imagine that while I was asleep the Wig would fly off into the night and hang out with all the other wigs and toupees that were flying around… It seemed like a lovely and haunting image, a symbol for freedom.” Combined with Banhart’s wry and jubilant list of other inspirations for the record — “the ballroom scene of the mid 80s, glamour, whales, the lonely employee at a dead-end corporate gig, the bloodshot eyes of the divorcee, the night nurse, the rebellious nun” — there is, after all, much up to be found with the down.

The album’s contributing circle was kept small and familiar; its personnel drawn from both artists’ tried, tested and trusted list of collaborators (Nicole Lawrence on pedal steel and guitar, Todd Dahlhoff on bass, Greg Rogove on drums, Euan Hinshelwood on saxophone), with Le Bon playing a panoply of additional parts (synths, guitar, percussion, bass, piano) herself. The record’s finishing touches also came courtesy of Le Bon stalwarts, with mixing and engineering by Samur Khouja and mastering by Heba Kadry.

Through it all, Issa’s spirit of the upside — that glimmering “and yet…” in an otherwise dark and fleeting world — pervades. The tough riff of “Twin” serves as the iron bars that entrap its writer in the “Same desolate space / Same no way out / Same infinite doubt”, and yetat its core, there is something cherished: “this precious thing / At the heart of everything you’ve wanted. 

Stepping outside of himself to examine the unspeakable, Devendra Banhart is suddenly freer than a bird. He is as free as a wig that transcends the body, transcends the head, and makes for the clouds.

Flying Wig album artwork

Flying Wig Track List


01. Feeling

02. Fireflies

03. Nun

04. Sight Seer

05. Sirens

06. Charger

07. Flying Wig

08. Twin

09. May

10. The Party


Oct 3 Iowa City, IA  The Englert Theatre

Oct 4 Chicago, IL  Thalia Hall

Oct 6  Toronto, ONT  The Phoenix Concert Theatre

Oct 7  Montreal, QC  Corona Theatre

Oct 8  Burlington, VT  Higher Ground

Oct 9  Boston, MA  The Sinclair

Oct 11 New York, NY  Webster Hall

Oct 12 Philadelphia, PA  Union Transfer

Oct 13  Asbury Park, NJ  Asbury Lanes

Oct 14  Washington, DC  The Howard Theatre

Nov 7  Lisbon, PT  Coliseu

Nov 8  Braga, PT  Theatro Circo

Nov 10  Madrid, ES  Palacio Municipal

Nov 11  Valencia, ES  La Rambleta

Nov 12  Barcelona, ES  Paral.lel 62

Nov 14  Paris, FR  Le Grand Rex

Nov 15  London, UK  Troxy

Nov 18  Lyon, FR  Le Transbordeur

Nov 19  Lausanne, CH  Theatre de l’Octogone

Nov 21  Milan, IT  Auditorium Fondazione Cariplo

Nov 22  Trieste, IT  Teatro Politeama Rossetti

Nov 23  Vienna, AT  Globe

Nov 25  Berlin, DE  Passionskirche

Nov 26  Hamburg, DE  Kampnagel

Nov 28  Amsterdam, NL  Paradiso

Nov 29  Brussels, BE  Ancienne Belgique

Dec 6  San Diego, CA  Observatory North Park

Dec 7  Los Angeles, CA  The Belasco

Dec 9  San Francisco, CA  The Fillmore

Dec 11  Portland, OR  Revolution Hall

Dec 12  Seattle, Wa  Neptune Theatre

Dec 13  Vancouver, BC  Commodore Ballroom

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Martin Moseley

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