Lion Babe Talks Fashion Inspo, Being a Mom, Wanting to Work with Mya & More
Three albums in, Jillian Hervey aka LionBabe, sits down to chat with us a bit. The singing, dancing, triple threat talks fashion, motherhood, being an independent artist, and more. Next up? An exciting cover song coming soon.
You’ve probably heard of Lion Babe. The neo-soul-hop-tinged, alternative R&B, funk, electro, and rock elements fusion duo comprised of Lion Babe and AstroRaw, otherwise known as Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman. Lion Babe’s vocals are often compared to many of the legendary artists amongst us. You may have seen them perform their genre-blending music at one of the many popular music festivals they’ve played, nationally and abroad, alongside acts like Lauryn Hill, Jaden Smith, Wu-Tang Clan, Little Dragon, Erykah Badu, Jhené Aiko, Miguel, Lizzo, Nas, and Grace Jones, just to name a few. Notably, in 2018, Lion Babe was part of the Coachella lineup with acts such as Beyoncé, Cardi B, Sza, Eminem, The Weeknd, Kygo, and Tyler the Creator, and they’ve also shared a stage with the likes of Alicia Keys and performed for Tony Bennett in New York City.
The millions of views they’ve garnered on YouTube via their music videos, the magazine covers (including a very sweet and special cover moment for Essence Magazine with her mother), and the other publication features, along with the award shows/events, like the Grammys and VMA’s, and Fashion Week appearances have caused many an eyeball to gaze their way in awe.
The fashion world simply cannot get enough of Lion Babe! Hervey has walked in multiple Fashion Week shows and they were once invited to perform personally for Armani in Milan. Perhaps, readers may recognize Lion Babe’s striking beauty from her H&M commercial, her gig as a Pantene brand ambassador in national commercials and ads, and her collaborations with Mac cosmetics and Ray-Ban. Likely though, this striking star has caught your eye due to the fact that she shares the same genetic jackpot lottery as her legendary mother, the iconic star of film, music, and theatre, and Miss America: Vanessa L. Williams.
The third album out, Rainbow Child, is an EP, and a wrapped-up set of tour dates. Hmmm! So how did Lion Babe come to be the stars they are today? Let’s journey back through history briefly.
It all began back in the year 2012 when Lion Babe officially hit the scene with their debut single “Treat Me Like Fire.” Well, to be truthful, it really began years before that when the talented duo met for the first time at a party. Staying somewhat internet-connected, super casually, throughout the years via social media, Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman, decided to team up when they both found themselves living in New York City, re-connecting over music for one of Hervey’s dance projects at The New School University. After Goodman produced original music for Hervey’s modern dance performance, magic blossomed. Around this time, after initially working together, they decided to join forces as a duo called Lion Babe. This was after spending time together and familiarizing themselves with one another musically, of course. Like their debut single sings, the fire spread rapidly for these gifted young performers.
With Goodman handling the record producing/beats and Hervey serving as the face of the band with the vocals, the pair dropped their music video and hit single “Treat Me Like Fire” in December of 2012, and oh, man, did that fire spread! Next thing they knew, Childish Gambino was requesting them to open for him at SXSW festival and they were signed to two record deals; one with Interscope and the other with Polydor. 2014 would see the release of their debut self-titled extended play, featuring the popular 2013 song “Jump Hi” featuring Childish Gambino, their old friend. 2015 would see the musicians gear up for the official release of their debut album. They did this by teaming up with Disclosure for a track on the English duo’s 2015 album, and by working with creative geniuses such as Pharrell in the recording studio on the official Lion Babe debut album.
Released in February of 2016 by Interscope and Polydor, Begin was the first full-length album Lion Babe released. It included the compelling singles “Wonderwoman,” “Impossible,” and “Where Do We Go.” The next few years saw Lion Babe release stand-alone singles, but it wasn’t until 2019 that Cosmic Wind, their second studio album, was released to much anticipation, also marking their first independent release. Their third album, Rainbow Child, would follow in August 2021.
Moshe: How’s Sunny? (newborn son).
Lion Babe: He’s on my lap right now. Just feeding him some lunch. It’s solids now, so he’s having his bottle as his dessert. Thank you again for all the gifts, so sweet.
Moshe: You’re an independent artist. How are you liking the journey of being independent? Also, would you ever consider signing with a major again? On the distribution end, backend, etc.
Lion Babe: Obviously I think being the type of artists we are, we’re very hands-on. And also just very involved in every aspect of what we create. Which definitely, When we were signed, it sometimes felt like a compromise on the business front, and you never want to jeopardize what you’re creating, but politics would play into that. That has always been a strength and a positive part of being independent and knowing, down to the signing of things, every last detail of the song and the video we have… you get to control that. Something all artists want… that, and we get to be very hands-on. That being said, a label can expand your audience and your community. We are fortunate to have had that jump start for making those partnerships and communities and trying to maintain those in any way we can. So the larger marketing or PR person..their jobs, their 9-5, is to help you grow. When you start to go out on your own you have to pick your poison, what are you going to deal with. You are funding it, so you have to ask ..what is worth investing in.
We are a small unit so as we have gone along we have shrunken it even more down to the essential players. As far as getting a label again, I am not sure. It would have to be something amazing and we would have to..really want it…And..well there are lots of ways to still find backing and support independently. It takes a lot working with a label, they take a lot. Having this healthy streaming income, if you sign it would have to go. We would have to be comfortable and confident that the music would really follow what they would be capable of doing. The team would really have to believe in the project. It’s a risk on all ends but we are looking to continue to do what we’re doing and get additional people to help us do it.
Moshe: Do you feel ways you influence others?
Lion Babe: We’ve influenced people. And whether people give credit where due, or not, we are a part of putting our mark out there. I think, you know, when you’re younger you might get frustrated and wonder why is that happening. (not having influence noted) But more than anything, I’m just like, okay, because I appreciate that we’re helping to shape things. People talk about us being authentic and being weird and being left of center and having hair and taking risks with makeup and wearing platform boots, well that’s like it’s all literally everywhere now. I see how that’s grown. Obviously, everything comes in cycles, but for a bit of time, I do think that we were an early gatekeeper of it. At first, it was probably like, Oh, what are they doing? But now it’s just so it’s the norm.
Moshe – Absolutely. Tell me about some of your fashion influences and some of your musical influences as well. Like what kind of people or designers that you keep an eye on?
Lion Babe – Yeah, I mean, everything. I’ve always just been soaking it up within social media. It’s so easy to just consume a bunch of things. So a lot of times I pull from that. like I look at. Old photo shoots, things that might still work and what might not. With this past fashion week, people are just having a lot of fun and I love that. Like I love Marc Jacobs show, these big funky hats, and platforms. And I’ve always been a huge fan of Vivienne Westwood in general, her stuff, and where she is now. But yeah, I love Versace’s new show. Liking the lace, especially being a postpartum mom, and embracing my curves. I’ve always been a corset girl, but now it’s like, oh, yeah, of course, the fishnet here, the lace jacket extras there for example. But I do feel that because my body has changed, I don’t necessarily, like, go for the same as before. I like to mix it up though.
Moshe: Well let us take some of your changes into this next kind of thinking… Are there folks you would love to collaborate with?
Lion Babe: You know, I think just where we are, now that we’ve kind of opened our doors a little bit in our lives about the fact that we are family at this time. Yeah. I don’t necessarily watch or listen to specific mom podcasts, but I’m definitely open to having those conversations. Latham Thomas is this amazing doula. She’s done a lot of work with celebrities, but also just women all over. She connected with me. Her company is called Mama Glo. So I did a talk with her and that was fun. I guess opening to the community. And I also spoke to this other woman, Elise Petersen, who has a company called Cool Moms, and she has a podcast called Two Cool Moms and also has a live event. So I did a live event with her at the Ludlow House recently, and that was really nice just to be in like a space surrounded by there. So it was really cool to just have that conversation and just talk about where you are in life and kind of shoot the shit, you know?
But do I think if there’s anything in particular, right now? I mean… obviously shows, I would love to be involved in shows. I think I always would love to expand and do acting. I have a couple of things that I’m really thinking about..you know, I think I’ve got the music thing under control.
For a long time, I felt very, like, overlooked…so, I couldn’t properly give time to those other things. But I think being a little bit more of a seasoned musician and knowing how I work, I can hopefully turn things around and be open to leaving space for other opportunities. And I have more control of my schedule..so if I have to take a pause and let this turn, I can do it.
[With the baby} it’s been an interesting year. Right now I enjoy being a homebody and, you know, we’ve been doing a lot of work from home. Like I was just in the studio for the first time yesterday. Like, Lucas goes still every day, pretty much. But I’ll take whatever I do and go mix it up there.
But luckily, yeah, I’m definitely enjoying this time and I’m also just knowing that you know, time is fleeting and as much as it can feel stir crazy sometimes and that, you know, it’s such a he’s going to be grown before me now, you know, just like so I’m trying to just like embrace this time where he’s like, a little, tiny, little human. Yeah.
Moshe: So do you have an acting manager?
Lion Babe: No, I have just my management company that will help bring things in, and then also … again, it’s just sometimes people that know will literally just reach out to you or they know someone out there.
Moshe- what are some exciting things you have coming out that you can share?
Lion Babe: Nowadays we are in a great place right now where we’re doing a lot of writing. We’ve just been kind of linking up with other artists and other musicians and doing a lot of collaborations to just try to get a big pile of music done before the year ends. We’re just finishing up our next project is happening and we’re going to be releasing a cover really soon. Shooting covers are always great. We just like recording so when something comes up I’m like, Oh my God, we should do this. And for us, it’s a great way to nod and acknowledge people of influence in the past. And we want to continue trying to re-invent things. We love to turn things on our heads.
Moshe: You know, I know someone that you know. Both of you. Gabriel Held vintage. Um, yeah, he’s worked with you, and now he’s working with Mya. I was wondering, is there any possibility of you and Mya doing something?
Lion Babe: I adore Mya. She’s a dancer too. You know, she’s been doing so well and just doing all this music over the years by herself. And it’s awesome to see someone, you know, who has just maintained. I would love it. I would love it so much.
Moshe: You’ve been playing, like, here and there around the city. Or like, you know, are playing the rooftops or whatever.
Lion Babe: Yeah. We’ve been done. We did a deejay set in Brooklyn. Elsewhere. We’ve done a couple of private events. We had a show out on Long Island. So definitely. And again, that’s a whole other thing. The music industry is very much in this transition period because a lot of people are making up for lost tours from 2020. And so there’s like a very small bank of available people like engineers and all this stuff. And you know, we obviously normally tour our albums, but there’s the timing of the last album release and with Sun coming and everything, it just didn’t make any sense.
Moshe: The definition of Contrast is “to be strikingly different.” What makes you strikingly different?
Lion Babe: The beauty of everything and everyone is: No one can ever be you. Just APPRECIATING my journey and following what the inner compass is telling me. Just basically being a kind, good person. Making people feel seen.
During this current era, there have been collaborations with Trinidad James, Ghostface Killa, and Busta Rhymes. We were lucky enough to get a chance to catch up with the multi-talented Lion Babe.