Lion Babe talk new music exclusively to Fault

They’re a duo. And they’re not Neo Soul, stop calling them that. Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman are Lion Babe. Their popular, eclectic, feel good, organic sound has recently been compressed into a summer mixtape ‘Sun Joint’. We caught up with them before their Glastonbury performance to talk all about it.

Fault Magazine: You guys are performing in Glastonbury this weekend. As a clean freak myself, how will you cope?
[both laugh]

Jill: We’ve definitely heard it’s muddy, but this one seems to be a whole other world type of mud, but we’re excited. I think Glastonbury is always going to be an adventure. We actually just got some wellies, so we feel a little calmer than going in with just some proper shoes, because that was the scary part for me.

Images from Lion Babe’s exclusive FAULT shoot, July 2015
FM: I always imagined the artist experience at Glastonbury to be so much fancier. Surely you are arriving via helicopter…

J: [laughs]. Not fancy for us! If Drake or someone was stopping by, then maybe. We’re driving up there and roughing it out just like everyone else.

FM: Your first single ‘Treat Me Like Fire’ did so well in the UK, you were then signed over here, before signing a deal in the US. I’m assuming you spend/have spent a lot of time in the UK thus far?

J: Yeah, especially in the beginning, we spent a lot of time here, doing shows… Last summer we spent a lot of time in the UK doing festivals as well. We just kind of followed our following. The UK was just always really supportive of us, especially when ‘Fire’ came out. Its just been a natural thing. At this point the UK is very much our second home. We have family here and a real relationship with the country, so…

FM: Given that, could you tell me one thing you love, hate, find weird and admire about Britain?

J: It’s kind of random, but what I love about the UK is the amount of greenery that is in the city. It’s so nice to feel like you’re still in the city and its so urban and you have everyone in this thick melting pot, then you have all these amazing trees… In New York, you do not have as much. It’s just a nice mix of nature and city life.
L: I hate that you can’t really get as much great Mexican food over here.
J: There’s definitely a bunch of weird things over here… like cheese and onion sandwiches, I don’t understand. These are all food related things, but there are definitely some food choices over here that I find a little weird. Like eating this with this, or you will have that cold, or this hot. Also the lack of toasting of bread here is also very…
L: Yeah, I agree… And bagels!
J: And bagels! …With sandwiches, ya’ll never toast the bread and I don’t understand that.
Images from Lion Babe’s exclusive FAULT shoot, July 2015

FM: Things you admire…
L: We love the music scene out here.
J: Yeah, we definitely admire the music scene. Just the fact that it seems like culturally everyone is involved. There are ways for just regular people to become big artists, they don’t have to go through any label or that kind of thing, they can just really be heard, which is so cool.

J: With radio as well, I feel like there’s a lot more opportunity to hear good music, stuff that you would only ever really hear online, but here, if someone finds it, they’ll just play it. That’s dope.

FM: Britain and London covered, growing up in New York must have been such an inspiration musically… 
L: Just the area I grew up in, the East Village, so much good music came out of there. The punk music and rock ‘N’ roll music that happened around there… Growing up my dad would tell me all about that stuff. The area has huge artistic influence.
J: It’s also nice to be able to place a lot of places. I remember reading, Patti Smith ‘Just Kids’ – one of my favourite books – and reading about all these venues, with all these famous artists and they were literally down the block. You could see what coffee shop she was talking about, or at least where it was. You feel a kind of energy within that, which is awesome. You also have instances where you run into people, you’ll see them on such a casual basis. This dancer, Bill T. Jones – he’s super famous – but you can just run into him at dinner. I met him at dinner and I couldn’t even say my name! [laughs] but it’s just nice to have those moments that catch you off guard. You feel really connected, because it’s like, ‘oh, everyone is doing the same thing’.

When I was little, it was just going to Times Square. My mum would take us to all the Broadway shows. As a young girl I thought that was the city… All the bright lights, it wasn’t until I got much older and saw down town that I realised you could live there [laughs].

FM: Your brand new Mixtape ‘Sun Joint’ is out now. Having released an album not so long ago, what is the purpose of this mixtape. Is it for touring purposes, because you felt like it, because you had music ready to go…?
L: It’s kind of all of those things. There’s a lot of music on this mixtape. Some old stuff, some new stuff, some covers… We’ve just been working on stuff and wanted to put it out. It’s still fresh to us now, we’re going on tour and wanted to do some new music and it’s just for us and the fans and for summertime.

J: ‘Begin’ was the beginning of everything for us for a couple of years. It’s 14 songs, but we were already expanding and growing. I think it’s just something that we share, whenever we want to put something out we just do it.

FM: ‘Sun Joint’ features the hotly tipped, Jungle Pussy and Raury. How did those collaborations come about?
J: Raury, we basically met at a gig we both played at in LA, maybe a year or two ago and we’ve been fans of each other since the beginning. We connected there briefly and have always been in talks. We were thinking of someone to be on ‘Jungle Lady’ and he [Raury] was really into the original and wanted to try something and obviously, we weren’t going to say no.
Images from Lion Babe’s exclusive FAULT shoot, July 2015
FM: You’ve spoken about your group dynamics and writing process in the past, but who is the boss, who gets the final say?
[both laugh]
J: well obviously we both get the final say, but I know he [Lucas] wouldn’t just send something off without checking with me. It’s just with vocals I get super anal and he knows not to piss me off with that, but obviously, he is working tirelessly to get the track to where it needs to be, so you know, we’re both the boss.
L: Sometimes when I work on something for that long, I’m like, ”Jill… please… just like this’.

J:… Yeah, and I might not [laughs] A lot of times I do. It’s just little things. I think it was because I was new to this, so I couldn’t really communicate what I wasn’t liking? But now I’ve spent so much time in the studio I can say, ‘oh, the frequency’ or just running through something, all those things I had to really learn. So now we’ve kind of figured that out its good.

FM: Have you ever had any major musical disagreements? 

L: Not really. It never really gets to that.

J: I don’t think anything super major, I just think as a singer/songwriter there’s definitely a difference sometimes. Lucas has a greater ability to step away from it. Obviously he’s thinking of Lion Babe, but sometimes he can see things I don’t yet, because I’m just hearing my vocals on it. I don’t feel as connected to it, but he knows what he’s doing when it comes to that, so it’s fine.

FM: Lucas, your T-Shirt game is amazing. Where do you shop?

L: That’s another really big influence, just growing up in the neighbourhood there’s a lot of vintage clothing stores with rock ‘N’ roll vibes… I’ve actually just been collecting …for a long time [laughs]. I just love T-shirts. When you have a t-shirt on with a really cool person or band, you can really identify… It’s almost like you can absorb their talent.
J: I collect for him too. It’s really fun.
Images from Lion Babe’s exclusive FAULT shoot, July 2015
FM: You’ve worked with some great people, Pharrell, Mark Ronson… Who else would you really like to work with?
L: There’s definitely a bunch…
J: I really want to work with Missy Elliott. I just feel like it would just be awesome. She’s one of my greatest influences. She’s so cool, so creative… We had a brief conversation on the phone after one of our shows. It turned out Pharrell talked to her about us, which is even cooler. She was a super fan and was just like, ‘keep carving your lane out’. When you get that kind of love from someone like that, then to imagine working with them… It would just be amazing.

FM: Speaking of… I saw Erykah Badu had said that Jillian had ‘peace fingers’ did you ever work out what that meant? 

J: I haven’t! I feel like she has her own language. She’s so cool. She’s her own species. The meaning is probably buried in a cave somewhere, or in Pandora’s box or something. It was definitely a complement. I loved it. It was so amazing to have an interaction with her. She was beyond our expectations of cool. To have these people who are such amazing influences support us and be proud of us is just the best.

‘Sun Joint’ is out now (and absolutely free)



Images from Lion Babe’s exclusive FAULT shoot, July 2015
Fashion Assistant BELDA CHUNG