By Serenat Kivilcim
The music of Holychild will captivate your inner child, taking you on a joyride through the poppy, upbeat experience that vocalist Liz Nistico and instrumentalist Louie Diller have crafted through their new age, creative musical lens. The two met while studying at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and they were drawn to each other’s vision and innate love for music. They soon-there-after formed Holychild and moved to LA shortly after graduation, where they took it to the next level. 2013’s release of single “Happy With Me” received over 100,000 plays in just a week, and over 1 million overall. Their success is well warranted and the best of Holychild is still yet to come. Black on the Canvas had a chat with them about music, life, and more…
So, you guys met while in college if I am not mistaken. How did your friendship transform into a music making partnership?
Liz: Yeah! We met in my dance class, Louie was the hired musician. I guess we were both just in DC and in college and personally I was having a hard time connecting with people and I was skipping all my classes and spray painting canvases in my apartment. I was going to dance, though, and I met Louie when I had kind of realized that art was what I needed to do. It’s interesting being in college because you’re supposed to know what you want to do with your life and I didn’t feel that at all. I think a lot of kids might go through that. Anyway I met him and suggested we make art together and he was down, so I immediately liked him and his vibe. We just started talking about music and then he had me paint a small mural that’s still downstairs in a building called Ivory Tower at our school. The mural was in a practice space where there were instruments all around and we started jamming and then I realized I loved jamming and that’s all I wanted to do. It was so infectious and cathartic. Louie was so talented and I was really inspired by his confidence while playing and creating. After that I moved to Brooklyn, but luckily he convinced me to come back to DC to record with him and then we moved to LA not long later.
Do you have any funny or interesting stories from your days at GWU together?
Louie: Sure, a bunch! A good one though is our first show, which was a house show at a townhouse on campus. We only had 3 – 4 songs, so we we wound up covering a bunch of our favorite hip hop and R&B songs (i.e. OutKast, Dre, Biggie, Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah, Next, etc) and it is still seriously one of the most fun shows we ever played. I remember at one point during Big Poppa, people had climbed onto the ceiling from these stairs that led to the upstairs and were swaying to the music from the ceiling! Meanwhile the house was overflowing with people + everybody was jumping on and down to the beat at the same time, so I could see this old wooden floor rising and falling with each beat. I seriously thought the house was going to collapse! Thankfully it didn’t, we wound up drinking this delicious shroom tea offered to us after the show, walking across the Mall at 4 am and seeing the sun rise over the Capitol building. I have never seen such vivid colors in my life!
I am always curious about the dynamic of a band. Does one of you primarily write the music while the other writes the lyrics, or is it more of a collaborative process?
Liz: It’s totally collaborative, and every song is different. Sometimes Louie will have a melody, or maybe it will be a chord progression and then we’ll fuck with it. Sometimes it happens the other way around. A bunch of the songs on the album came to me in dreams, fully formed with lyrics and I just woke up and recorded them as fast as I could. We always play with things together and at the end it will evolve into something that’s completely half and half. Then I go away and write the lyrics, which I’ll bring to Louie and he will proof-read, more or less. And then he goes away and produces! That’s kind of how it works, usually.
You have a new album coming out soon. What was the production process like?
Louie: The production process for the album was intense (took a year and a half in total/we recorded two album’s worth of material for it!), but
exhilarating! This was my first time producing a full length album and I couldn’t be prouder of the results! In terms of how we did it, usually I would get a demo of the song 60 – 70% there myself in my lil home studio, then collaborate with a co-producer on finishing the rest of it at a more real deal studio. We collaborated with two fabulous producers named Greg Wells and Cian Riordan at their respective studios (Rocket Carousel + Barefoot Studios) in LA. Cian wound up mixing the whole album at Barefoot and absolutely destroyed it. We then got Emily Lazar at the Lodge in NYC to master it who completely obliterated it + brought the record home. Again, can’t be more thrilled with how the record turned out + can’t wait for y’all to hear it!
You also have a video to go along with the first track of this forthcoming debut album. Who is the creative mind behind your videos?
Liz: I’ve been doing all the visuals. It’s been a really amazing experience learning how to direct and even edit. I’m excited for more videos to come because I feel like I’ve learned so much along this process, and I’m just really excited to execute my ideas even more. In the past I’ve compromised on certain things and as time moves forward I’m learning how to trust my intuition more. I know what things I definitely need and what things I can be more open on. It’s been an interesting balancing act but I’m also excited with visuals because there’s so much I want to say with them! I love using girls, because our culture has such an obsession with the female body and I like fucking with that. I like using food because, again, our culture has taken something that should be so natural and distorted it. I guess personally these are symbols that have a lot of weight to me and I really want to use them to consciously or subconsciously make people think differently about them.
How has the experience been touring with rising Danish star MØ ?
Louie: MØ and her crew were amazing to tour with; very generous, very accommodating, very supportive, etc. Also her fans like to get down, which is what we do live, so every night was a party and probably some of the best times of my life.
What artist or band would you say is your greatest influence?
Liz: I have so many. I don’t know if we could name one. We’re typical music nerds. You know, we’ve listened to so much music over our lives. One thing that was amazing when I first met Louie was how much we both listened to, and how many artists overlap. That being said, I think we take different things from different people. We’re like, rhythm from Outkast, jazz chord progressions, pop melodies and sarcasm from Cake and Aqua, plus influences of Gorillaz, the crunchiness of St. Vincent, melodically we’re definitely inspired by TV on the Radio. It’s kind of a mix of everything.
Holychild is preparing for a big year. What do you hope to accomplish in 2015?
Louie: Indeed, this year is shaping up to be pretty big, which is exciting! We hope to just infiltrate pop culture and start a conversation on the roles we all play in this 21st century, digitized, globalized, interconnected, climate changing world; and if there’s something we could all do differently in our lives to benefit the world more (not just ourselves).