Earlier this month, the world was cordially introduced to Begin, neo-soul duo Lion Babe’s debut album that’s filled with grooves and a strong message of love. We got a chance to talk with singer Jillian Hervey and producer Lucas Goodman about what to expect and what’s next.
With your debut album out for the world to groove to, what has been going through your heads? Anything you’re anticipating or excited about?
Jillian: We’re just really excited to share all of these songs and to just get questions answered about what people are really into and what they’re not. Luckily they’re into everything, so it’s definitely satisfying to just hear and receive all of the good news and get a good reception. It makes the whole experience more gratifying.
Lucas: It’s definitely a very freeing and relieving feeling in the sense [that] we’ve just been sitting on a lot of this music for a while. We were just [waiting for] a time when we could share it with everyone, but now that that’s come it just feels like a big load is off. Now that it’s just out there in the world we can move on to something else and make more stuff.
I know I’m excited about it, I’ve been jamming it for the past few days and there is such a great energy throughout the track list. Was there an overall concept behind the album or does each song take on an individual meaning?
Jillian: Overall, I think we were just responding to what was going on, what we were doing in life and how we were feeling. A lot of those themes were about staying true to our identity and being proud of who we were. Also, trying to uplift other people and to inspire other people through this new platform that we had. So it wasn’t a conscious thing, but it did just keep happening when we started to work. We just felt that that was the void we wanted to fill. We wanted to have really cool music that was also positive, and that ended up being the through line of the journey.
After your first release, you two did a lot of touring, traveling and collaborating. What are some things you learned about yourself, each other and Lion Babe as a whole during 2015?
Lucas: When you tour and you’re travelling, you’re exposed to a bunch of new, different cultures and vibes outside of New York. So it’s a big learning experience, especially when you’re doing festivals out in the UK. You see what people are reacting to and it gives you a little insight into what you would like to do, what next song or vibe you would want to get into. You’re like ‘oh I like how they do this out here,’ so it would be cool to get into something like that. As far as us, I think as we get to travel around and see more of the people who are digging our music, we kind of realize there is a kind of through line. Even though everyone is different, there is a through line with the fans and the people that have been receptive to our sound. You can see there is definitely a relation amongst them, and it definitely seems that’s all coming together for our… not necessarily our movement, but people who are just involved in what we do, as we like to call them #teamlionbabe.
Jillian: I would add that one of the biggest lessons is that we really are the key holders of our destiny. And we’re a lot more resilient and determined than we thought we were, about what we are, and what we’re trying to do. I think the year was an amazing year of opportunities and experiences, but it was also a lot of tests around what you would compromise, what you settle for and what would you push for. I think that just as a team we’re both very supportive of each other and very determined to make sure that LION BABE is properly protected in the way that we envisioned. I think that it’s a great thing to know that we [are] going to fight for it and that we have what it takes and we’re going to work our asses off.
What is something you want your listeners to take away from your music?
Lucas: More than anything what we want them to take away from our music is love. We just want to add something to their lives in the sense that it makes them feel better; not necessarily that you have to feel happy, but really more about making you feel something. I feel that when we put music on in the living room. You’re like if “I put this tune on, I’m just going to make my whole day feel like nice. This is a better vibe.” I want people to take [away] that. And also be inspired to go away and do their own thing, whether it’s to make something or do something.
As time’s passed your creative circle has grown and has brought in a new perspective on how to take Lion Babe to the next level. Do you think that dynamic has pushed Lion Babe to concepts and ideas that you two maybe wouldn’t have picked up on or seen possible in your path?
Jillian: I think it definitely led us in certain directions that we weren’t really planning on going. We also have people who have just affirmed what we were doing and having those people around us made the stuff that we already started also continue a lot more and definitely blossom. But the greatest thing about being an artist, and in this world, is being able to meet different people and learn about different processes of making music. Hearing about how everyone else deals with their specific journeys, it can just provide a lot of insight into what we do and how we do it. So I think it’s always nice to have people that will push you and challenge you and then it’s also nice to have people that embrace you and support you.
Lucas, which tracks were your favorite to work on? I feel like producers are always going down a rabbit hole of sounds, do you see yourself dabbling into any new genres or creating a new breed as you continue to travel and expand your horizons?
Lucas: Definitely. There’s already new stuff that we’re already messing with. There have been sounds I’ve been wanting to get into. Everyday when you go onto the internet there’s a blog or Soundcloud and you hear a new track or producer or something like that, and it’s just like ‘wow I’ve never heard someone do it like this before’ which is inspiring. Then you want to hear new tips and tricks to just incorporate it into your own lane, to just put your own spin on it is always fun. So I’m definitely trying to get into some other styles, even out here being in the UK so much I’ve definitely been exposed to more dance style production. I don’t think I’ll ever want to do anything that straight up sounds like someone else’s dance tune, but I would definitely take some things behind it that makes those tracks work and I’d put my own sounds on it. Then there is all of this Soundcloud-y trap inspired by Brazilian music that I’m really loving at the moment from artists like Sango. I don’t know if I’d necessarily want to make a bunch of beats like that, but we would love to work with him and tap into some of that kind of sound.
Who are some producers you’ve been vibing to as of late? Any new names catching your eye?
Lucas: So many. Like I just mentioned, there’s Sango, Knxwledge, then you go on Soundcloud and there are so many, like this dude Lehvi, there’s this guy Rascal. I’ve been really digging this whole Teklife crew out of Chicago, they do all of this like juke footwork, DJ Rashad and then all the guys from his crew still do stuff, Tek-lun and DJ Paypal are really dope and all people we would love to work with. And there is a whole bunch of crews I think that are pretty cool, like all of the dudes in the Soulection crew; StarRo, Mr Carmack, the Beathause crew, like Falmingosis and all of those kinds of crews. It’s an exciting time. Definitely, the producers as artists who go out and do shows themselves is really expanding into a thing, and all of the worlds are kind of mixing in terms of DJ and production so it’s really cool. It’s awesome you can go online and just hear everyone’s work.”
Jill, your mom is a performer herself, and it’s evident she’s a huge inspiration for you. What are some things she’s taught you that you continue to live by while you’re pursuing your career?
Jillian: She’s taught me to follow my intuition and [not] do anything that makes me feel uncomfortable. To learn my craft, research and know as much as I can about what I’m doing. To also stretch myself and physically actually stretch everyday [laughs].
There’s a quote of you saying: “I know that people think I’m overly sexual when I dance, but I’m not afraid of my body. I’m comfortable and I’m okay with being sensual and open with that”. One: so much yaaas for saying and standing by that. And two: do you feel that has empowered you to really be in touch with your inner lioness, while also empowering other ladies to embrace themselves?
Jillian: Yes, I think it’s just kind of inevitable, growing up as a dancer you deal with a lot of days just staring at yourself, critique, ideals about the body and what it’s supposed to be. Once I went to college, I reassessed all the stuff I learned about, that in a way, was more fitting in the way I identified as a person. I think just having that relationship with yourself and feeling good about that is a very freeing thing and it’s completely natural and instinctual. So I think it has definitely allowed me to be more in touch with my actual animal being, my actual natural self and through that I’m very happy that other women and people identify with that freedom or relationship and awareness that I have with myself. I definitely hope that by me doing what I do, it invites others to do the same with themselves.
Do you still catch flack for it or do you think people have focused more on the beauty of being comfortable in your own skin?
Jillian: I don’t know, I’m assuming I’m always going to catch flack for it because every female artist gets flack for anything they do so it just comes with the territory, but hopefully the more that people get to know me, the more they will really understand me.