When most people think of Lion Babe, they immediately envision the soulful and vibrant lead singer Jillian Hervey. Despite popular belief, Lion Babe is a music duo composed of both Jillian and producer Lucas Goodman. Their unique chemistry, vision and approach to music have taken the industry by storm and made them a force to be reckon with.
They recently dropped their freshman album Begin and have collaborated with the likes of music legend Pharrell Williams and Childish Gambino. Lucas brings a unique take on music that is riddled with inspiration from genres like pop, hip-hop, soul, funk and jazz. On the other hand Jillian’s unique voice, songwriting and dancing can command anyone’s attention in a room.
Beyond the music, both Jillian and Lucas are constantly finding ways to stay inspired and spread positive messages. They have also recently started DJ’ing and are using their platform to push the culture.
We got a chance to interview Lion Babe during their set at Ketel One’s “It Has To Be Perfect” campaign. Read the conversation in full below.
How did you guys originally meet?
Jillian: Now, it’s been almost a decade, but we met because one of my friends went to school with Lucas at North Eastern and when I visited as a senior in Highschool I met Lucas Briefly. A couple years later we met through mutual friends in New York City when I was fresh at the New School. Lucas was one of the first people I knew who made music, so when I had a dance project for school I asked him to create a beat for me and that went really well. Once we got closer and started discussing art and other projects we wanted to do, the idea of making music together came about and we just went for it. It happened very organically. “Treat Me Like Fire” was one of our first songs and we got a really good response and just kept going from there.
What about each other made you two feel comfortable creating together?
Lucas: Once we collaborated on our first project we realized that we got along and had similar eclectic taste in music and art. We grew up watching similar movies and listening to similar music so from there it felt natural to work together because we were inspired by some of the same things.
Jillian: And also, Lucas had been making beats but he had never worked with a singer and I didn’t really consider myself a singer or songwriter at the time so we were also really open because it was new for both of us. It was a comfortable environment where we knew we wouldn’t judge each other and that made it easier creating together.
What inspired you guys to start DJ’ing along with writing and performing?
Lucas: When I was younger I would always pick songs and select tunes without even realizing I was playing the role as DJ, so that just evolved. DJ’ing felt natural because we already make music, so curating music and setting the vibe only enhanced the experience. There are definitely records we like and want to expose to people.
Jillian: Being able to connect with people with similar taste and style also allows people to get to know us better. Although we have been around for a little, some people listen to our music and some people don’t listen to our music, so it’s nice to be able to curate the sounds and show our influences. Although it’s nice to go out and look fancy and dress up, you don’t always go to parties where the music is a good so it’s nice to be in a position to bring the vibes and create the experience.
Talk about your involvement in Ketel One’s “It Has to be Perfect” campaign.
Jillian: We were already interested in DJ’ing and we are also big fans of the artist that Ketel One has collaborated with, especially Santigold who we love. It was really nice to see the artist that they brought together and we wanted to be a part of the experience. It was such an interactive space with great energy and people. Everyone was dancing and naturally involved. It wasn’t only about the drink, but also creating a community that is comfortable and welcoming.
Music for many artists is sacred, what does perfection mean to you?
Lucas: It’s about finding whatever that magic thing is in the song and presenting it in the purest form. Whether it’s a melody or a beat, we just try to always enhance it and present it in the best way possible and not try too complicate things too much.
Jillian: I find that the quest to be perfect and make perfect music is like a black whole. I realize that you can come with the intention to capture a vibe and use a formula, but you have to accept that most of the time its not going to be what you envisioned and you might manifest something better. I think that’s been the hardest thing to wrap my head around that most ideas we go for ends up sounding different. I think art in general should be about enjoying the process and the experience. All that matters is if you feel the music and it captures the element your going for. I feel like those are the songs that feel perfect when you have that similar sensation every time you listen to it. That’s when music feels right.
Who are some of your favorite people you’ve worked with this year?
Jillian: We’ve got to work with a bunch of really amazing people this year. We got to work with Jungle Pussy on our “So In Love” remix and when she sent us her verse, we immediately loved it and thought it was such a vibe. We just got a new studio and we’ve been having a bunch of our super talented friends come through to jam, which has been really great, so there’s more in store.
Lucas: Yeah, we’ve definitely got to work with some dope people, but there are some things we can’t release yet so we’ll have to fully answer that question next year.
Can we expect any new music from you two soon?
Lucas: We have new music coming out at the beginning of the year that we are trying to wrap up before the holidays. The new stuff is always the stuff we’re most excited about so we’re always working.
Jillian: Yeah we’re always working on new music and now that we have our own studio space we have tried to stay focus and really explore. But we have projects out that we are super proud of and want to keep building on that.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned this year and what are you excited about in 2017?
Lucas: It’s hard to say because we have learned so many lessons over the last two years combined. Just the experience of putting out our first EP and album has been a huge lesson. I think I’ve realized that you have to always do something that is true to you. It’s easy to get wrapped up in different things, especially when you start working with other people but its important to stay true to your vision and rely on yourself.
Jillian: In music in general, you’re always getting a lot of information, buts it’s most important to have honest communication. It’s always important to understand that we can do so much individually if we connect with one another and have honest conversations. As scary as it is, it can be very liberating. Staying connected to the people you love and staying connected to the things that really matter has been my biggest lesson. Just to even see what happened at Standing Rock and seeing how some of my friends were able to make an impact, that was a super inspiring moment for me because it started with having a conversation and connecting as humans. Moving forward I just want to make sure to spread positive messages that uplift people.
For another one of our Q&A’s be sure to read our exchange with one of the gatekeepers to Berlin’s infamous Berghain, Sven Marquardt.