Lion Babe, formed by Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman, are one of the most dynamic and innovative producer-singer duos in the music industry today. The duo released their first album titled "Begin" earlier this year and recently unveiled their summer mixtape aptly titled "Sun Joint". Lion Babe fuses electronic and neo soul sounds together, which are further complimented by Jillian's gripping vocals. I had the opportunity to chat with them about everything from Jillian's fashionable stage ensembles to their fusion of musical genres. Then, I witnessed their incredible showmanship in person at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana.
Originally formed in NYC, Lion Babe first worked together on music for one of Jillian's dance performance pieces. After connecting and getting a push from Lucas to pursue making music, they created "Treat Me Like Fire". After being asked why she chose to transition from being a dancer to a singer, Jillian stated that she was always open to being artistic & creative, and that music was a nice balance: "I always knew that if I was going to be doing singing or anything, it was just gonna be a way to kind of like, use all of my artistry, and use all of the things I wanted to do. It was just kind of a progression from doing dance and adding singing to that".
Growing up, Lucas & Jillian were exposed to a wide variety of music via their parents. Lucas's parents, pioneers in the punk fashion scene, showed him Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and various other famous rock acts. On the other hand, Jillian was raised somewhat bi-coastal and traveled abroad frequently. Her parents were adamant about exposing their children to other cultures and countries, which later became a source of inspiration that she drew upon for Lion Babe's music.
When I asked about their collaborations with artists like Pharrell Williams and Childish Gambino, they expressed favoring the in-person, studio vibes over simply sending bits and pieces of a track to another party. After explaining that I initially discovered their music via a remix of "Treat Me Like Fire" on Soundcloud, Jillian expressed how she was hesitant at first to the idea of someone remixing their music: "It can feel a little weird when we worked really hard on putting out this one song, and then they want to put out three other songs that sound similar but are completely different. But again, that's what the purpose of a remix is, to draw people to the original." Remixes and edits like Snakehips drew thousands of plays, and helped turn many fans onto their music, including myself. Jillian expanded on her sentiments and went on to explained how important remixes are in the UK, where their largest fan base is located. She also noted a few remixes that she favored, such as Jax Jones' remix of Impossible: "At first, it kind of scared me because they made my voice sound like a megatron or something. But it's grown on me now and it's really fun".
After diving into a discussion about their live performances and talking about their recent sets at festivals like Afropunk and LA Pride, I asked if there were any favorite moments from being able to play these widely recognized music events: "Pride is obviously something that very much comes with the territory of Lion Babe. Embracing yourself, being authentic, being proud of who you are, all those things. It's great when you can play your music around an audience that you are consciously thinking about and you want to have them feel loved and accepted." Lucas also mentioned that Jillian had been regular attendee at Afropunk, so it was an incredible opportunity to finally be on the roster.
Jillian and Lucas ensure that during their performance, you are not only sonically engaged, but visually as well. Their stage set up consisted of a golden palm tree, an umbrella rested on a stool, a large neon sign, and a handheld fan that Jillian appeared on stage holding. Their outfits are even more intricate, unique, and thought out than their stage props. Jillian works with her stylist, Jeffree Williams, in order to achieve looks that are iconic and that have an effect on people. For their performance at the Constellation Room, Jillian wore a suede-like dress that appeared to just cling to her figure, paired with knee high snakeskin patterned boots that had a minimum of a 5 inch heel (see the pictures above for a glance at her stunning ensemble). Lucas's fringed vest appeared to be coordinated with her outfit, looking like it came off the same rack as Jillian's number. Jillian twirled and pranced around the stage effortlessly during the entire performance. Meanwhile, I was in utter pain from wearing boots with a mere 3 inch chunky heel.
Lion Babe puts an astronomical amount of effort into their music, performance, and appearance. Jillian's thoughts on their stage fashion choices sums up the overall concept of Lion Babe perfectly: "It pulls on our influences musically as well, what we do on stage highlights and accentuates what you're already hearing, when you hear our music. We definitely want to bring an element of theatrical vibes and surrealness into it. And I've always felt that who I am when I'm in Lion Babe is a heightened version of myself, this woman that is vulnerable and strong and ethereal. And all those elements I try to have visually. So, if someone doesn't get to hear it, when they look at the stage they still are kind of getting those symbolisms that we created."
Lion Babe is more than just the music. They embody the self-acceptance, individuality, and love that they spread through their music. With their first headlining U.S. tour under their belts, they now are embarking on a U.K. leg. Lion Babe will be internationally known soon enough, and this is only the beginning.