Hearing Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman, the duo behind Lion Babe, explain the origin of their band’s striking moniker, is a pretty good read on the energy they bring on their new album, Cosmic Wind: soulful, spiritual, and undeniably compelling.
“We’re both into symbolism; Lucas is a Leo and I’ve always been aligned with lions as an animal and its qualities, and the ‘babe’ represents the opposite of all of those,” Hervey says, clarifying the meaning of the band’s name, divulging along the way that her own Gemini duality helps her feel and appreciate the contrast between the strength implied with the lion and the beautiful vulnerability associated with being a babe. “I really feel both things all the time, of being really strong and comfortable and feeling like a total mess,” Hervey adds. “And I think that’s healthy and totally what you need. It’s all about creating a balance.”
This sentiment of learning and growing into yourself is one that’s omnipresent on Cosmic Wind, a project that’s both futuristic and retro, a definitive result of Hervey and Goodman’s own growing process since their whirlwind debut as Lion Babe seven years ago. Although both grew up with musical interests—Goodman played guitar since he was 11 and got into production in high school, Hervey’s family is steeped in a legacy of music; her mother is singer and actress Vanessa Williams and her father is a music manager, which led to a girlhood full of chorus and trumpet playing—it wasn’t until after college that the two decided to pursue music as a full-time commitment. While the pair planned on having a full band, Hervey as vocals and Goodman as a producer was electric enough that Lion Babe as a duo needed no expansion.
Goodman and Hervey’s first official collaboration as Lion Babe back in 2012, the single, “Treat Me Like Fire,” was a runaway success—no doubt due to the pair’s groovy, neo-soul approach to R&B and their equally ‘70s, retro-influenced look, something that Goodman says was born of their mutual love for soul music and his interest as a producer in repurposing something familiar to make it new and appealing for contemporary times. In the time since “Treat Me Like Fire,” they released an EP, Lion Babe, and a debut album, Begin, and toured. Now, however, they’re hitting their stride with sophomore LP, which both feel is the manifestation of the years that they’ve spent developing together as a unit.
“To be honest, we’ve been waiting to make this album since we started,” Goodman shares. “We’ve been doing this for a while, but in the beginning, things started really quickly; the first song we ever wrote went viral. Then we signed, we had a deal, and from one song we had to create an album. We hadn’t really discovered ourselves or our sound just yet, and there was a lot of experimenting with it and a lot of people who tried to influence us and what not. I think this is the first time that we’ve really created an album that is just us and our purest Lion Babe form.”
Hervey affirmed Goodman’s comments with one that echoed his sentiments about growing as artists.
“I think we’re just a little bit more seasoned as to what our process is and what we like creating, what we like talking about, all those things,” she says. “We’re just growing as people. All of that new maturity is present, and I think it’s just really nice to make music you really feel is us. We’ve been growing independently and it’s really inspiring to see us follow through on what we set out to do. The themes are very much about that: growth and evolution and kind of just reflection—just this ongoing process that life is.”
Being able to achieve this is something that both of them attribute to their connection with one another, something that isn’t always a given in the industry they work in.
“It’s great to be able to go through life with someone who’s just very much in line with you, like your teammate,” Hervey says of finding a partner in Goodman. “This journey, especially when we first entered the industry, it would have been much more daunting if we had been alone.”
With the album out in the world, Hervey and Goodman are focusing on savoring the moments that they’ve worked so hard for in the past years, instances that Goodman admits can be easily missed in the fast-paced lives they’ve grown used to.
“We’ve been working on this project a lot and it’s nice to just take a step back and reflect on it and share with the world,” he says. “And working on such things is, of course, taxing on us, so it’s nice to take a break and take a moment to enjoy it all. Of course, we enjoy the process too, but for me, sometimes I can have my head down working and not look up and see the moment and how great it all is.”