Incorporating upbeat, catchy lyrics, ornate percussive beats, and pop vocals, Los Angeles based band HOLYCHILD is on a rapid road to top the charts. With what is referred to as ‘brat pop,’ their songs define the term earworm. The sound of HOLYCHILD reflects a sort of off-the-beaten-path pop that is gaining the attention of many listeners around the globe, not to mention powerhouses like Apple. What is so appealing about the band is their approach. Yes, they create danceable pop music, yet their persona as a group and the meaning behind their music is both intriguing and enlightening. Each track on their EP, Mindspeak, is notable and unique, the same which can be said about HOLYCHILD as a band. Their album, The Shape of Brat Pop To Come, is set to be released on June 2, 2015.
You went to school on the East Coast but are now based in Los Angeles. Do you feel the different cultures of these two places influence your music?
Liz: Yeah, definitely. In general we’re very inspired by places we’ve lived and human nature in the different places. Besides the east and west coast vibe, I also lived in New Hampshire, Italy, Portugal and Nepal and cultural affects are really fascinating to me. I guess we’re always trying to figure out which human actions are innate and which are influenced by culture, media and society.
The two of you met while attending George Washington University. Did you quickly realize there was potential for success when you started playing together or did you have to work on connecting musically?
Louie: The musical connection was pretty immediate. Whether it was the first few songs we wrote (a couple of them actually made the final cut on our album!), or the playlists we’d share with each other, that connection was probably quickest one I have ever had with anybody in my life. On the other hand, there was no original plan, but to just have fun expressing ourselves through music. We started to take our work a bit more seriously when we recorded the first few songs in DC, listened back to them and realized it was something we had to pursue. I think we both knew at that moment it would have been a shame to abandon a project that had that much promise at the start. Definitely happy we stuck at it!
Last year you went on tour with MØ. How was that experience?
Louie: That was probably the best tour we’ve done yet. MØ and her crew were great and the shows were a blast; what more could you ask for?!
I actually attended one of the shows and I thought you complimented each other very well. It was neat to listen to two very different sounds, even though both your music and MØ’s are considered ‘pop’ in one way or another. What audiences do you hope to reach with your music?
Louie: Yeah, thanks! So far our audience has been an interesting mix. I think I can narrow it down to folks roughly 16 – 30 years old and either male or female representing the majority of them. Ultimately to me though I feel like we have the pop + fashion sensibilities of No Doubt/Gwen Stefani mixed with the big beats + social commentary of MIA so I am kind of expecting our demographic to play out as such; but who really ever knows how anything will play out! It’s been a dream to connect with as many people as we have already. For our debut album, I feel like we’re swinging for the fences in the sound, message, scope, etc; and honestly hoping to connect with the world through it. Time will tell how that all goes!
In January you played several shows at The Echo, a renowned venue and nightclub in LA. Have there been any ‘aha’ moments, whether it be while playing a certain show, at a particular venue, or something else?
Louie: Great question! And yes, I had several of them at the Echo residency last month! Not only because we were playing about a dozen new songs from our album live for the first time, but also because we added a handful of new elements to the live show, such as backup singers, dancers, visuals, and more. Moreover we videotaped each show! So every week after our show we would watch back the video tape, listen to the recording, take note on what worked and what didn’t, make adjustments, return the following week, play our set, learn from that, and so on and so forth. Therefore I haven’t felt better about where I live show is at now! I am actually really excited to take it on the road soon so we can share all the new songs, the new show and more with the rest of the world!
You played South by Southwest this year! How was it?
Liz: It was so high and so low. That’s how everything is for me these days! SXSW was no exception. The shows themselves were so powerful and exciting. Somethings in between were a little stressful. SXSW has changed so much over the years, and this was my third time going and I guess I was just expecting it to be similar to other years. It was such a strong learning experience to live without expectations or presumptions. That best part was being on stage with so many amazing people in front of me.
“Happy With Me” a song from the EP Mindspeak has seen a significant amount of success and positive reception. In writing for the EP, did you think this song would become a hit, or did you think other songs would be better received?
Louie: Like most everything we do, we try to suspend all expectations and just take everything one step at a time, enjoy it as much as possible, learn from our mistakes, etc. That includes “Happy With Me,” and how we didn’t really know it was going to take off the way it has. On the other hand, “Happy With Me” was maybe the quickest song we wrote for the MINDSPEAK EP and felt great when writing + producing it. But you still never know how anything will be received until its out. It’s been a blessing to connect with as many people as we have through HOLYCHILD and that song in particular. Can’t wait for people to hear the new stuff on the debut album!
Liz: Thanks. The EP is all discussing the role of the female in our culture. At the time I actually was so depressed that I wasn’t eating, partly out of being too sad and partly out of pressures I felt to look a certain way. I was really interested in using food as imagery because like the female body, it’s something that is seen as coveted in our culture. I like the donut because I don’t really consider it to be sustainable food, like there’s nothing behind it beyond the hedonistic pleasure of eating it. I feel like a lot of women are portrayed that way, like their only purpose is to be eaten up and then discarded. I felt like the donut represented all that in one image, and I was really into using food in photoshoots for that reason as well. It’s so funny, because I sprinkled that donut and made it look so perfect and Louie and our photographer and our friends were like, are you sure you want to do this? The donut is a little weird. And now it’s such a trend it seems. I hope that people think about it in the way I intended, at least subconsciously because I think it’s an interesting discussion to be had.
“Running Behind” your latest single is featured on the first Apple Watch commercial. How has it been having your song recognized on such a wide scale?
Liz: It’s all kind of surreal. At the end of the day, Apple always features really amazing music in their ads so it’s definitely an honor. It’s nice when you work so hard on something to have your hard work recognized in some way. I think everyone can relate to that. So it’s really been a nice bit of momentum this year, especially because our album will be out soon!
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming album?
Liz: The album is called The Shape of Brat Pop to Come and we really wanted to create this world of Brat Pop. It’s a genre of music that’s based on pop music, but at the same time it’s thick with social commentary. We like talking about gender roles, power dynamics, our culture’s obsession with beauty, self, fame, money. The album is a journey into this vulnerable world in a pretty accessible way.
This summer the band is set to play several large scale festivals including Firefly Festival in Delaware and Lollapalooza. What are you most looking forward to about all of the upcoming events?
Louie: We are actually not playing Firefly this year (we played it last year!), but we are doing Lollapalooza, Governor’s Ball and a few others. It might sound cliche, but I’m honestly looking forward most to the actual playing. The live show has never felt better and I am really excited to bring it on the road all over the world this year in support of the debut album. Oh, and festivals in particular are always special, since they’re kind of like a reunion with a ton of our music making friends so I’m seeing friends from all over soon!
Are there any comments or thoughts you would like to add?
Liz: Not really! This is so nice to chat with you. Thanks for the questions. We’re really excited for the album to come out in June and it’s just inspiring to touch base on all these thoughts. Hope we can see you on the road!
All images are from the band’s Facebook page