Rarely is a band’s first song a hit, but such was the case with Lion Babe.
Composed of singer Jillian Hervey, Vanessa Williams’ daughter, and producer Lucas Goodman, who goes by Astro Raw, Lion Babe is a left-of-center R&B duo. They’ve been on the scene for a little over a year, but have already logged studio time with big names such as Pharrell, Childish Gambino, and Mark Ronson, and have captured the attention of Jay Z, who included them in his summer playlist on Tidal.
Lion Babe released their self-titled EP in December and are working on their debut studio album, details of which remain minimal. Jillian and Lucas say that they don’t have a name or a release date for it — yet, but that they plan to drop new singles off of the album soon. Check out our Q&A with Jillian and Lucas below, and find out what they had to say about their breakout hit “Treat Me Like Fire,” working with major names early on in their careers, and D.R.A.M.’s infectious song “Cha Cha.”
How did you two meet?
Jillian Hervey: We met through a family friend of mine. I was looking to go to college, and I went to visit him – he was a year older than me, and met Lucas at Northeastern, where he was at school. [Lucas and I] met at a party, and I heard a couple of his beats there, introduced myself, and then we ended up reconnecting through that same friend a few years later when Lucas was back in New York City. I was studying dance at The New School, and was looking for someone to help me score a piece I was choreographing. We started talking about music making random stuff. The first song we collaborated on was “Treat Me Like Fire.”
What does it mean to treat someone like fire?
Lucas Goodman: It’s basically knowing you got to handle it right because it could make everything great or it could just burn you. Things can spread. Good energy can spread or bad energy can spread, and you have to just be mindful.
The second visual for that song really shows off your amazing hair, Jillian. What products do you use?
JH: I pretty much use a lot of hair spray to make it super curly. It’s always fun for an actual show. In general, I use Moroccan oil. I do use coconut oil every now and then. It’s an ordeal, so I’m glad that I have people to help me for the shows.
What if you shaved your head? Would the name of the band have to change?
JH: No, I don’t think so. I mean, I wouldn’t shave my head.
LG: “Bald Babe.”
Lucas, I saw that your name on social media is Astro Raw. Is that your alter ego?
LG: Yeah, I’ve put music out since I was 16.
JH: I met him as Astro Raw.
LG: On Instagram, SoundCloud, or MySpace, all those.
Jillian, what does your mom (Vanessa Williams) think about you pursuing music?
JH: I don’t know what she thinks about it. She’s happy that I’m doing something that I’m passionate about. I think she wasn’t really expecting it, but she’s definitely proud.
Has she helped or hindered your career in any ways?
JH: She’s definitely not hindered it, and by helped, she’s just been a good person if I need advice. She knows a lot of people, and I also think just growing up around her and my family, who have been in this kind of environment, I’m very used to that world. Doing it within my own terms has its challenges, but I feel like I’m comfortable in it because I know it.
What have been your favorite aspects of being artists so far?
LG: All of the music parts. Performing the music, the shows, the chance to go in and create or work on something that you’re building every day. In music, you’re meeting all these great people and working with them.
JH: The recording and writing is new to me, and it’s very fun. It definitely feels more like work work, but I feel comfortable with performing and I’ve loved doing it since I was a little girl. I love being able to connect to people. You get to have a visual, and hear the music and share the music, so that’s the best for me.
You two have worked with some big names early on. Who will be on your debut album?
LG: We did the one song with Pharrell. Otherwise, it was all just us and friends and some other collaborators. But that’s just the one tune. And then Mark [Ronson], we’re just figuring out the record with him, and Childish [Gambino], he just jumped on. I would love to do more with him, but he’s working on his movie right now.
Do you have the name of the album or a release date locked in?
LG: I don’t even know. It’s always changing, like, every single day. We’re working on it right now in this room.
JH: Yeah, that’s actually where we are. We definitely have singles that we know are coming soon, but we also have been writing a lot more material, so we want to finish that up. We’ve worked towards the album every day, but we don’t have any secrets yet.
Is there anyone in particular you would want to work with right now?
LG: Yeah, there are tons of young kids on SoundCloud who would be so dope to work with, like Graves and Sángo and Kaytranada. Also, D.R.A.M.
JH: D.R.A.M., yeah. That song “Cha Cha” has been stuck in my head.
It’s a great song.
LG: I feel like that song, at least for us, has some sort of Trinidad vibe. I think the way that some people think of “Treat Me Like Fire” is like that, but that’s how we feel about the “Cha Cha” song.
JH: You just want more. I love it. It just makes sense.
LG: It’s so good. It’s classic.
Stay tuned for more details on Lion Babe’s debut album, and check out their music here.