Lion Babe Is Definitely Prepared for Coachella 2018: 'It Feels Like We've Made Some Progress, So It's Time'

When Lion Babe emerged on the music scene with their first single, "Treat Me Like Fire," in December 2012, the fan response was instantaneous. The duo—comprised of Vanessa Williams's eldest daughter, Jillian Hervey, and producer Lucas Goodman—had a soulful and eccentric chemistry that mesmerized listeners.

Alternative R&B and neo-soul fans fell in love with Lion Babe's sound, helping them land the No. 7 spot on Billboard's Next Big Sound chart in 2015. By the time their debut album, Begin, was released in 2016, it was clear the band was more than a one-hit wonder.

Lion Babe's performance at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival signifies duet's potential for longevity. Newsweek chatted with Hervey and Goodman about their latest milestone—performing in front of 125,000 people just one day after Beyoncé on the Coachella stage—and their second album.

Lion Babe is a 2018 Coachella Artist to Watch
From left: Lucas Goodman and Jillian Hervey of Lion Babe perform at the True Religion FIT event at Ysabel in West Hollywood, California, on August 8, 2017. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for True Religio

You guys have performed at festivals before, but this is your first time appearing at Coachella. Are you prepared?

Jillian Hervey: It's exciting. When you're in the middle of making a show, all the things seem to come together all at the last moment. And we're just in those last days of wrapping our heads around all the rest of what's been planned. It's really exciting though, and we've been working really hard to give this show a good vibe. I performed with Disclosure [at Coachella] like two years ago. That was our first time just going and hanging out. I got a chance to get on the main stage, which was amazing. But we're just excited to go for ourselves. We don't really think about where we're going or where we're playing; we just like to be in a show.

What makes Coachella special for you?

Lucas Goodman: I remember being in high school and being like, "Oh man, it would be crazy to go to Coachella." Just as a kid, I really wanted to go. So now, to be playing is definitely amazing. This is also a thing where so many amazing artists play there. It's kind of like a goal for any band, group or musician. To play at Coachella is a big thing.

JH: Coachella has definitely been a goal of ours, so to be finally playing it is awesome. It feels like we've made some progress, so it's time.

Do you have anything special planned specifically for this set?

JH: Definitely, tons of things. Just because, like Lucas said, it's a big deal to be on that stage. We just wanted to bring the aspect of what we do to the next level, which is something we've been wanting to do for a minute. But it's great to kind of have a show like this to put a little fire under us and make it all happen. Things always take time. We've got a great creative team around us that's been helping bring our vision to life this time.

Is there anyone in particular you want to see?

JH: It seems like a really good lineup all across the board. Obviously I'm a big supporter of Beyoncé and her productions. So I'm definitely gonna try to make that show. But just being in good company of people we've known and have seen grow is exciting. Also I've been playing Daniel Caesar a lot, so hopefully I'll be able to see him. I love to see what people do live, because it's so different than just listening to their records all the time.

LG: I doubt we'll even be able to see all these artists, but I'm gonna try and see at least one act. But I'm excited to see Tyler, the Creator, and Migos would be fun.

You guys took a little bit of a break since your last album, and now you have a new project coming out soon. What's changed since Begin debuted in 2016?

LG: I think our style is becoming more defined, especially to ourselves. When we first started with our first song, we didn't necessarily have a specific direction at that time. Whatever happened just happened, obviously, in a natural direction. What we thought and felt, we just did it. And then that kind of opened us up to the whole music industry. We did a record with a label and all that sort of stuff. So it's been a journey of just learning a lot of other things for ourselves and what we wanna make. And I think this time around, the music we're putting out and the new project we're dropping, it feels much more defined. It's us as we wanna be, as much as we can be. What we're really excited about is that the new music, for us, sounds like how we did when we really first started, but just a level up.

What's the inspiration behind the new album?

JH: Following what Lucas just talked about, it's a very personal journey of just kind of traveling, meeting different people, working with different people and checking into the root of who you are and staying authentic. That's always really been our mantra in general, but I think this album talks about that a lot, the different aspects of coming of age. We're on our own, we're in our twenties, moving into the next decade and having feelings about this stage of life and how we define it. What do we feel about it? And trying to make other people feel we're in this together. It's the journey of defining the root of who you are.

Is it challenging to you to expose yourself and your coming-of-age experiences on this level?

JH: I don't know. I think we bare our souls in ways that make the most sense to us artistically. But we're not spilling all the beans about our interpersonal experiences, which I know people do, and a lot of times that can help or hurt them. I try to keep some things separate. But at the same time, music for us has been one of the greatest releases in general, to keep us afloat and to keep us feeling good about the world. I'm so happy just being in this stage of where our country is and all this stuff right now and having a project that my head's really into that I'm loving, just because, for us, it's like that is the release. That is the baring of our souls. I may not say this and that, but hopefully when you hear me sing a certain way or in a tone, you can recognize that [baring my soul]. The same with how Lucas produces. But we try to keep our personal life personal and our musical life musical.

In the past, you guys were really experimental with your sound and productions. It seems like there's this new wave of artists coming out who are really blending genres and playing with their sound in similar ways to Lion Babe.

JH: I think we've always liked being experimental, and we've always liked to make something distinctive that gives the elements of what's now and what was then, but there's still something new about it. There's something different that sets us apart, at least in our eyes. And I think that it's amazing we've been able to spend the last couple of years kind of experimenting with so many elements. I come from a performance art and dance background, more theatrical in general. And Lucas has been living in downtown New York City, in the East Village, his whole life. So I think we're both very colorful and not afraid to try things that might not be a regular performance type of thing. But I think now it's on trend to be yourself, which is amazing. That's how it should be anyway. Now people are feeling a little more comfortable with being more daring. It's always been available. It's just now there are more opportunities for those people to become part of the mainstream, which was kind of the difference a few years back. Artists have kind of been pigeonholed and couldn't be universal, because they were doing things so differently. And now that difference is what the mainstream is looking for. It's cool. It worked out for us.

Who are you biggest musical influences?

LG: I have a different answer for that every 10 minutes probably, because it's so hard to just pick one. But probably Madlib. As a producer, he had a big impact on me as a kid, and my understanding of music and listening to record and things like that. He kind of changed how I looked at all that stuff.

JH: There's a bunch, and it's always changing. I definitely go toward distinctive-sounding voices, people in the past you hear and always know. You always know Chaka Khan when you hear her. You always know when it's Erykah Badu. Even someone like James Blake, who I was listening to a lot when [Lucas and I] started working together. It's like that kind of surreal [sound]. That kind of sonic role mixed with these old soul singers, that's where my head is a lot of the time. And then sometimes it's just that playfulness when there's a beat that you love. Lucas will give me a piece he created, and it's like, "Oh, I feel like Aaliyah's in the room." When you can hear certain people that come to you in the record and you kind of try to vibe off of whatever that is—and that always changes—but I think that's what influences us.