Pretty sure you will have heard of Lion Babe, the dynamic New York hailing musical duo, you know, the ones who sprung to fame in 2012 with their slow burning, haunting hit, ‘Treat Me Like Fire’? Yep those guys, Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman are Lion Babe.
With Jillian providing those sultry, melodic vocals and Lucas behind the boards making the beats, Lion Babe have perfected the balance. Since their debut release, the pair are taking a step back. Time to soak up the sun and scale things back, returning to their neo-soul beginnings. The sound for ‘Sun Joint’ is simple; it’s the soundtrack to your continuing summer jam sessions. ‘Sun Joint’ isn’t just a Jillian and Lucas joint, with features from the likes of Angel Haze, Raury and Junglepussy, it’s a breezy collective effort. While the duo where in London, preparing for a weekend of festival performances in corners far away from the city, we discussed their dream summer cookouts, their musical trajectory since ‘Treat Me Like Fire’ and the role of the producer.
We’re almost on this circular trajectory
Lion Babe’s musical journey hasn’t been typical. Formed in 2011, the pair met via mutual friends, Jillian’s dance background always meant she was curious about singing too: “I was more focused on dance than music, but I always knew I could sing – and wanted to sing, but it was just waiting for the right time and producer to work with”. Meeting up and exchanging beats with Lucas (also known as Astro Raw) Lion Babe was formed. ‘Treat Me Like Fire’ in 2012 – and without much warning, the track garnered heaps of attention and support from across the world. Off the back of that, the duo landed a record deal, and released their debut album ‘Begin’ earlier this year. Lucas, explains the speedy, if not unusual route of Lion Babe’s journey: “We’re almost on this circular trajectory. We did Treat Me Like Fire right at the start… Then EP’s, then the album… And now a mixtape! [laughs] It’s like we’re back at the beginning now. But we’re still finalising our sound and that’s what’s been so fun about this project”.
‘Sun Joint’ is a sort of concept mixtape; all the tracks ooze summer and relax, chill ethereal production. Jillian explains: “This project was an idea we’ve had and always wanted to make in the last year – been trying for a minute to get some stuff out in the summer, and it’s something we’ve always wanted to do. The songs fit into together – they fit into a certain vibe and they all just connect”. On listening to the project, the is laced with discordant riffs, heavy drums, repetition and spacey sounds that span genres of funk, electro dance and pop, but the overwhelming feel of summer is constant. Jillian adds, “When I listen to it, I just imagine like a summer cookout, located on a beach – maybe Jamaica (laughs) – surrounded by friends, good weather, also with of greenery though.. And randomly, we manage to get a grill and there’s a load of food cooking, and friends hanging out – maybe even a hammock!”
Lion Babe is the sound we two make exclusively together
Lion Babe’s blend is unique, while Jillian and Lucas are both separate entities – but together the sounds is wholly Lion Babe. Jillian explains: “There’s something about just working with one individual and seeing that come together uniquely – if I sing on another beat – I know that it won’t sound like Lion Babe – Lion Babe is the sound we two make exclusively together.” What is so interesting about Lion Babe is that their roles are clear, Jillian on the mic, and Lucas behind the boards creating their finite sound. We’re moving into an era where producers are continuously credited , celebrated and even put together their own bodies of work. “I love traditional hip-hop beats.. so many genres stem from that… Platforms like SoundCloud are amazing now too, they’re like a launch pad for careers. It’s weird because I’m on there all the time, checking out new artists – it’s an amazing platform. It’s accessible – people are able to put their talents out there and be found, distribute to the masses, and compile it into collective bodies of work. It’s almost like a space now for other genres to operate in the popular realm and producers just becoming a lot more experimental”.
And while experimental is now the key, some may even argue ‘Sun Join’ is a sort of experimental mixtape. While the duo are now touring US/North America until the end of the summer, they’re set to use the winter months to recuperate, recharge and kill it again.