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MUSIC Lion Babe roaring into the Windy City
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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The R&B duo Lion Babe is composed of singer Jillian Hervey ( whose mother is actress/singer Vanessa Williams ) and producer Lucas Goodman. The two met through a friend and released their first song, "Treat Me Like Fire," in 2012.

Childish Gambino asked them to open for him on tour and their collaboration with the rapper—"Jump Hi"—was played on the hit HBO series Insecure. Lion Babe's new track—"Western World," off the album Cosmic Wind—is inspired by the Pet Shop Boys song "West End Girls" and features Wu-Tang member Raekwon.

Windy City Times: Where in the world are you currently?

Jillian Hervey: We are both in New York. I am in Brooklyn on a windy roof. I'm trying to get the Chicago vibe right now.

WCT: I am excited about you coming here again.

Lucas Goodman: I love Chicago!

WCT: I saw you perform at Lollapalooza in 2015.

JH: That was the hottest show in the world!

LG: Our laptop crashed because of the heat. That was one of our first August at 12 p.m. shows. We didn't realize how powerful the sun could be.

WCT: Well, you sounded good. Were you both into performing growing up?

JH: I have always loved performing. I grew up dancing primarily. I went to school for dance with both modern and contemporary.

I loved music. With my family, I had a lack of confidence to try it. My mom was into musical theater. She wanted me to take voice lessons and go to Broadway. It didn't get me excited.

I think it really started to emerge for me when I got to New York. I was with my dad and seeing a lot of performance art. It was with mixed media and people doing spoken word. I wanted to start having my voice into my work. Around that time I ran into Lucas. He was the first person I knew that was making beats. I always imagined that if I did something big I would want to write it. Lucas came out of nowhere and helped me out.

LG: My parents are huge fans of music. My dad was a big rock and roll guy.

By age 11, I wanted to learn guitar. That was my first introduction to music. In college, I started making beats and production on a computer. From that point on, I wanted to do music in some capacity.

WCT: Explain the name of the group.

JH: Even with this new album, we have always been interested in astrology, so with Leo and the lion, that was symbolic for us.

I went to South Africa around age 17 and had a life changing trip. I was out in the wild with my family and saw a lioness.

A babe is the opposite of that. I'm a Gemini, so we wanted to have a duality within the name. Our mantra has become strength and vulnerability. That is about taking risks and what we authentically want to do. We want to be powerful, but not look a certain way.

When we thought of the name, we wanted something a bit ambiguous. We wanted something like Blondie with a name, but not a person.

WCT: Jillian, I Interviewed your mom, Vanessa Williams, on a red carpet one time and she was awesome. I asked her about her huge LGBT fanbase. How do you feel about the band building that kind of fan base?

JH: I am a huge fan as well. We love each other.

I think it's through my mom, but I have had amazing gay men around me my entire life.

We try to create a comfortable space where everyone can be themselves. We are inspired by people who experience life the way they want to. Hopefully we do something for Pride this year because that's always a fun show.

WCT: You will be here during Pride Month.

JH: Oh fun! If you know any leads let me know…

WCT: Describe your live show for this tour.

LG: We will be playing all the new music. We will be mixing that in with our past album. We will have the band and plan on making it interesting. We are going to have a funky time!

WCT: Where was the "Honey Dew" video filmed at and where was the big statue from?

JH: It was in Northern New York. We wanted to find a nature space with great art pieces. I started googling "goddess art" and we found this artist who has been living there for over 30 years with his wife. That whole space was his with all different statues.

It was about capturing the beauty of the art he was making, but was also about the connection when you go to a pyramid or spaces with a lot of history.

We wanted to make a party vibe for a fun song, also.

WCT: Who does your hair for all of these videos, Jillian? It's different every time.

JH: Jeffrey Williams is our stylist. Chuck Amos does my hair and did my mom's hair when I was a child. I've know him for a long time. I love that he can make anything happen. He can make it larger than life.

I am always looking different anyway. Black women can express ourselves in our hair and we don't have to define our look in one certain way. I always try to match the mood of the song, so that inspires the hair.

WCT: How was working with Pharrell Williams?

LG: I grew up with his music that The Neptunes touched. It was a huge learning experience. To this day, I remember the one session he did and all the things he was saying. It all stuck with me. He talked to us about making an album and navigating the industry. It was awesome as I am sure anyone can imagine! [Laughs]

Lion Babe will perform at Reggie's Rock Club, 2109 S. State St., on Tuesday, June 25, with tickets at .

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