Home Grown: A Q&A with holychild

Home Grown is WRGW’s new blog series on GWU-affiliated musicians. This week we feature holychild, an experimental pop band formed by GWU alumni Louie Diller and Liz Nistico.

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If there is a middle ground between Katy Perry and Bjork (or pop and experimental) in contemporary popular music, holychild is it. Based out of Los Angeles, CA, holychild’s most recent music video ‘Best Friends’ was premiered by MTV Buzzworthy who said it will be, “the song of the summer.” Shot in a time-warped wasteland called Bombay Beach, dancing girls, kids on bikes, and locals on ATV’s characterize the gist of this action-packed perspective on a part of Southern California most folks probably haven’t seen before.

Q: How did you all come together as a band?

Louie:  I met Liz through a GW TRDA modern dance class I accompanied as a musician. We began hanging out and writing songs together informally at the beginning. Eventually though for my senior thesis project (for my jazz studies minor) I decided to record our songs with a friend of ours at a great recording studio in Falls Church. After we got done with our EP there, we brought the project to LA where I have a nice network of music playing friends and family. It was here in LA late last year when we recruited a couple of friends to help us realize the live show and become full fledged members of holychild (this would be Ben Rose on drums and Russell Henson on guitar/bass FYI).

Q: You mentioned that you co-founded the Student Musician Coalition here at GW. Were there any other experiences or opportunities that helped you grow as artists during your time in DC?

Liz: Yeah, Louie cofounded the SMC, which created a slew of top-notch rehearsal spaces in Ivory Tower. In May of 2011, we were living together off campus and we spent every night in those rehearsal spaces writing and hatching out our songs. Aside from that, I found a lot of outlets for creativity at GW. I was quite involved with the dance department, which not only helped me grow as an artist, but introduced me to a group of creatively-inclined individuals that I went on to confide in and collaborate with on my own art.

Louie: Oh yeah, for me, I was way busy in DC gigging weekly in various jazz, reggae and Latin groups in and outside of GW, so that all definitely broadened my musical horizons for the better. When I decided to record the holychild songs with Liz my senior year, it was extremely useful to already have the network of friends from the previous groups I had been playing with in DC to bring into the studio and help us fill out the sound; of which I am still extremely grateful for such. I am also really grateful for the folks I played music with in DC, because before DC, I had not played much jazz, Latin or reggae music before; so when I got to college and wanted to play out every night, not only did these folks have to put up with me learning the nuances of the respective styles on the fly, but I also feel like I dove head first into studying all of these styles of music. They definitely had an influence on aspects of the writing, arranging and production of the holychild songs.

Q: How has your experience in LA been as an up-and-coming group?

Liz: It has been really humbling to be a musician in LA. It seems like I can walk into a random bar and be blown away by a band on a daily basis. I think the main benefit to a high bar for music out here is that we really can’t slack on any area. It has been inspiring and exciting to collaborate and share the stage with so many talented musicians so for that I am grateful to be in LA. On the other hand, being a band out here is such a roller coaster. It seems like one day we are doing well and making headway and the next day no one answers their calls. It’s been a lot of hard work, and we know this is just the beginning.

Q: The video for “Best Friends” premiered on MTV’s Buzzworthy, which is pretty awesome. Has that opened any new doors for you?

Louie: Thank you! For one thing, it has helped give our endeavor a little more leverage when talking to labels, promoters, bookers, other bands, blogs, etc. Specifically, we have received all sorts of nice opportunities in the past few months from good live shows, to good recording opportunities, merchandising/sync placement offers, and more. It’s been a fun ride so far and for how new it is since we publicly launched the project in October of last year, it is really exciting to see how much has come to us already (at least compared to the previous bands I have played in).

Q: How did you all come up with the concept for the “Best Friends” video?

Liz: After arriving in LA last September, we arranged to have a photo shoot with a nice photographer out in the desert of California. We fell in love with a town called Bombay Beach, which is next to a decaying sea and is the only town for miles. We knew we wanted to shoot there, and we worked with our friend and director, Laurel Parmet, to brainstorm concepts and ideas. We were all on the same page to showcase Bombay Beach and the locals, and show a group of friends interacting with the world outside of our normal society. My personal reason for writing Best Friends is really to poke at unnecessary competition between women; to try and force people to evaluate how they interact with others and to try and bridge some companionship over unnecessary hostility. In the end, we were being a bit sarcastic when we wrote the song, but obviously it’s up to the interpretation of the audience.

Q: In only a few words, give your best description of a holychild live show.

Liz: A holychild live show is an energetic conglomerate of big beats and Wurli tones. We’re rocking out and dancing too much; is there ever too much dancing?

Q: Finally, could you give me a little-known fun fact about holychild?

Louie: At the end of our recording process in DC last summer, in order to pay my final month’s rent at Circle Arms apt, Liz and I convinced one of my best friends from DC, Dominic Martinez (plays bass on the holychild recordings fyi) to come crash with us in my tiny studio apartment for the month, bc he needed a place to stay. It’s just pretty amusing to look back at now and wonder how all 3 of us managed to get along in that little space for a month. Somehow it worked out though, we got the record done and we’re all still friends!

Catch holychild play live April 19th at the Velvet Lounge. Show begins at 9:30 PM. $8 / +18.

-Elyse

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