HolyChild is an amazing pop duo based in Los Angeles that includes songwriter and vocalist Liz Nistico and producer and multi-instrumentalist Louie Diller. Both highly talented musicians, the duo, who describe their music as “brat pop” are taking the music world by storm with their upbeat, high energy sound. We had the pleasure of sitting down with HolyChild for an exclusive interview:
· Who are your musical influences?
Louie: Ah so many! Buke and Gase, Fiona Apple, OutKast, St Vincent, TV On the Radio, Battles, The Bird and The Bee, Thelonious Monk, ABBA, and more just off the top of my head. Perhaps the sum of our influences = the pop + fashion sensibilities of No Doubt/Gwen Stefani mixed with the big beats + social commentary of MIA.
· You have a unique sound, how would you describe it?
Liz: Yeah, thanks! We’ve been describing our sound as Brat Pop, which is rebellious pop music. We love pop and catchy melodies, but at the same time we like to say something with that—therefore our music is pretty seeped with social commentary. We’re talking about gender roles, and then class disparities, and the root of both of those things. We actually just completed our debut album, which talks about these things and then the vulnerability that is inherently a result of the situations or ideas (questioning gender and class roles). Within that I do feel our sound is idiosyncratically ours, so it has kind of made sense to call it all Brat Pop!
· When did you realize that music was your passion?
Louie: I realized music was a passion of mine when my parents got me Abbey Road by the Beatles for my 3rd grade birthday present. At the time I was actually a little bit bummed when I first opened up their gift, because I remember looking forward to getting some super soaker or GI Joe to play with; nonetheless that disappointment quickly dissipated as soon as I popped in that CD and was subsequently floored. I think I realized then and there that my parents had gifted me this album, since I had developed a pretty strong appreciation for the Beatles (and many other artists/styles of music, not just rock and roll) by that time and music was something I felt relatively strong about even then. In hindsight I’m immensely grateful to have had such artistically inclined + supportive parents!
· What was your inspiration behind “Pretend Believe” and “Running Behind”?
Liz: “Pretend Believe” and “Running Behind” were written in very different times, but they both have similarities that they touch on. The inspiration for “Pretend Believe” was kind of Rhianna’s song “Only Girl in the World,” or this desire to be the only one who existed to my boyfriend. I wanted to be the prettiest, and the most talented, and really the only one who existed to him. I felt uncomfortable and competitive when he saw women who were prettier than me. And it was not only fucked up to think that, but also completely unrealistic. Like, obviously there are other people who exist in the universe. At first I was depressed when I had that realization, but then I really started to wonder why I felt entitled to be the “only one who exists” or the “prettiest” or the “sexiest” and I came to feel like advertisements and mass media really push it down our throats this concept of the superlative. For instance, in a TV show, there’s always the ONE beautiful girl. Or in a commercial usually there’s the ONE funny guy, you know? If one person is beautiful, at that moment they are the most beautiful person to ever exist. And no one can come close to that. It’s weird but I think our culture breeds the concept of THE BEST or THE ____EST and that’s what “Pretend Believe” is about. Only I’m being sarcastic and saying, “Treat me like I’m a princess. Tell me I’m the only one. Lie to me, there’s nothing I’d like more than that.” And even in the bridge, it’s like, “You can leave, but please don’t bother saying goodbye.” It’s this completely hedonistic, selfish, and unrealistic love story than on one hand I want so badly and on the other, I want so badly to eradicate.“Running Behind” has a similar tone, only we wrote it while we were in London. I was in another vulnerable state, however this time it was more because we were in a new country and didn’t know anyone, and at the same time I was having major trust issues. I would be having a conversation and whatever a person said to me I would be thinking, “You’re lying to me. You’re lying,” no matter what they said. They could have told me they liked my shoes and in my mind I was so distrustful of that. I think you can hear that in the lyrics. The song came out quickly and then the lyrics came, which are kind of a plea to understand the truth behind my interactions with other people. I guess it’s all just trying to figure out what part of my relationships are natural, and what part are influenced by what we all assume our interaction should be. You know? “How can I leave my father’s ride? Wake me up when the voices die. Do me like you might know my mind. Come with me to the other side.” It’s all a stream of consciousness attempting to make sense of my relationships, then in the chorus I realize I’m always running behind, or trying to figure it out and barely catching up.
· If you each had to describe your band mate in one word, what word would that be?
Liz: Louie is righteous! He has a really strong moral compass which is very refreshing. It makes it nice doing business with him because we interact with so many crazy people and I know I can count on him. If someone is not being genuine he calls them out immediately. I love that.Louie: Liz is inspiring! She is inspiring for many reasons but one that’s been sticking out of late is how non-judgmental and positive her perspective is. It’s actually quite liberating. I feel like I can always completely be myself around her. It’s critical for when we write and perform music together, since you’re so vulnerable in those moments; it’s nice that my partner in crime basically supports whatever I do and/or has constructive feedback if she disagrees with an artistic or professional choice of mine.
· At what moment did you realize that needed to leave D.C. for California?
Louie: For me it was a combination of reasons. First off while in college in DC, I knew I wanted to do music after in some capacity, so I wanted to put myself in the most creatively inspiring environment possible. Secondly, I am from Oakland, CA originally, so when I was in high school I actually wound up spending a good amount of time in LA writing, recording + performing music. I therefore got a taste of what the creative environment was like in LA and actually found it to be quite addicting. The caliber was so high there and I found that intensity to be really motivating + made me hungry to get better at my craft. Somehow I persuaded Liz to make the move with me based on these handful of experiences. I feel like we’re pretty happy now though to have moved to LA, since as my intuition told me, LA is indeed an insanely inspiring place to be creatively speaking.
· What advice would you give to younger artists?
Liz: Trust your intuition! Art is life! This world is so crazy, and everyday we’re confronted with people who don’t trust themselves so they certainly don’t trust us. There’s so much doubt in this industry. You just have to stand up for yourself and trust yourself. That’s the only thing you can do. I know it’s been said before, but I feel so strongly about that now. Especially today. For instance, I’ve been working on the album artwork for months, and it’s quite a provocative image but like all of our stuff it’s ART! We’re making it to say something, and I think it pretty obviously says something. And this morning I got a few calls asking me to please change the album cover because this person and that person won’t be able to post about it. And I said no, and then later in the day I was in a meeting with some people who were trying to tell me how to post to instagram and how we should be interacting with people and it’s all just like, art is the only thing that matters to me. I don’t care about how many times I should be on twitter per day. We are going to continue to be genuine. We are challenged every day to stick to our guns and that’s the hardest part about this. Because these people all have experience and are older than us. But we can do it! The underdog can win!
· What song is on repeat in your iPod right now?
Liz: Tkay Maidza, U-Huh is amazing!Louie: Vitamin C by CAN
· What’s next?
Liz: We’re about to head to South By Southwest and we’re also so excited to release our album in the summer! This is a really exciting time for us, because we’ve been working so hard on all that we’re trying to do and say. We’ll also be on tour all over this year, so come out to a show and hang with us! We love Certainly Her, we’re so happy we could connect and share some of the inspiration behind all we’ve been working on. It’s going to be a crazy year!