HANGING WITH HOLYCHILDJuly 20, 2015
Dancing is not enough for Liz Nistico and Louie Diller.
The LA duo, who go by the name Holychild, make pop music that’s designed to make you question everything. They call it Brat Pop; music that’s one part euphoric electro pop, one part social critique. And we can’t stop listening to it.
The pair met at a dance school, where Liz was a student and Louie provided the accompaniment. After bonding over a sweatshirt- more of that later- they discovered a creative connection, and started making music together. The result is a vibrant, unpredictable affair, that’s equally at home with deep bass drops and stage costumes as it is with Carl Jung quotes and absurdist symbolism. It works.
We caught up with Louie and Liz in a coffee shop in London to find out all about it.
UO: We’ve been really enjoying the new album, ‘The Shape Of Brat Pop To Come’. So what is Brat Pop, and what is the shape of it to come?
Liz: Brat Pop is sarcastic pop music. It’s doing a lot with gender roles and expectations, as well as our culture’s obsession with fame, beauty, money, age, youth. It’s about trying to understand how we fit, and how I fit, into the world, given those restraints.
Louie: The term comes from us having fun with our society’s need to define and put a label on everything. Genres are kind of antiquated, so we decided to have some fun with it and make up our own genre. The album name takes cues from Ornette Coleman’s album The Shape of Jazz to Come. We just wanted to name it something bold and absurd.
UO: The last EP was very concept driven. Is that the same with this album?
Liz: Yeah, definitely. The EP and the album are both deeply concept-driven, and the funny thing is they were both unintentionally so. With the EP, we wrote it, I wrote all the lyrics, but it wasn’t until it was recorded like a month later that I realised like, ‘Oh, all of these songs are dealing with the same things from different angles.’
The album’s concept is more realised than on the EP, because it extends to the production and the songwriting. The concept is trying to define Brat Pop.
UO: How much is Brat Pop influenced by LA?
Louie: The EP was highlighting some sides of LA. I feel like the album is broader. It’s our collective observations of humanity, and our culture’s obsession with all these shallow, superficial ideals and expectations. How that influences us on a day to day level.
Liz: LA is definitely an inspiration. Especially the juxtaposition between the homelessness and the extremes of prosperity.
UO: We love your new video for Money All Around. What’s the big idea behind it?
Liz: So, I directed the video for Money All Around, and I wrote the concept, and pretty much did everything. It took four months. The idea was to really put out the ideas of Brat Pop for the masses. Hopefully now, after you see that video, you can interpret our art and interpret what we’re doing within that paradigm, and we don’t have to explain anything further. I really value subtlety in art, but I know that I’ve been too subtle. Some people don’t get my message.
The way that the facts are coming up was inspired by this ‘90s show called Pop Up Video, on VH1- I used to love watching the facts. It would be like, ‘Madonna…her favourite part of her body is her hands’ or whatever!
I’m really excited that it was realised, and I’m happy that we could kind of get deeper with it. I don’t know, if you’re not into the concepts that we’re talking about, then, I get it if you want to move on after that, but if someone hears our album and is like, ‘I don’t get it, are they being sarcastic? Are they not?’ It’s just like, here it is.
UO: Is it designed to be taken on those two levels? It’s great pop music on the one hand, but then you’re doing something else with it…
Louie: We don’t see the two as being mutually exclusive, necessarily. A lot of our favourite Pop Art being made today is really concerned with marrying those two worlds. It’s kind of like inviting people in with accessible things, but then inviting the listener to think differently about it, and to not be complacent.
Liz: Yeah, it’s really encouraging the audience to interpret even pop music, like everything in their life, with a more discerning eye.
UO: There’s a strong confessional element to your work, with those pop-ups and the blog diary that you did recently. Do you think that there’s more pressure on pop stars, particularly female pop stars, to share more of themselves now than there has in the past?
Liz: I guess for me, I’ve been around so many people who lie to themselves. My dad like, lies all the time, and he has this other family that he thinks we don’t know anything about. And my mom is not really honest with herself either, and so I guess I’ve been around so many people who are dishonest, and I thought and I assumed that everybody lied all the time. And so when I met Louie, who is so honest and open, it was just a shock, and I really didn’t believe that it was true for a long time. The goal is just to be really honest with how I feel.
UO: You guys are named after a sweatshirt, is that right? Is the way you dress still part of the creative process?
Louie: Absolutely. Liz is the de-facto stylist, she has her look- what is it, futuristic disco sport?
Liz: Yes, I’m currently inspired by the concept of future disco sport. I think that clothing and what one wears is totally an extension of expression. For us, it’s definitely part of how we express ourselves, it’s always been really important. And it’s funny that you mention the sweatshirt, because Louie was talking about that yesterday
Louie: It wasn’t just any sweatshirt, it was a badass sweatshirt that Liz modified. It was a gift from a family friend, on like, an impromptu trip to New York. It was just this huge, oversized sweatshirt that said Holychild on the back, and she just cut it up and put it all in tassels, and it was like, three-quarter length?
Liz: Yeah, three-quarter. It was pretty cool, I would just like, rip it and safety pin it over here.
Louie: Yeah, and she’d come to dance class and dance in this huge sweatshirt and it was awesome, ‘cause she was like this little girl and this huge sweatshirt would just be moving around, it was like, her thing. I just used to refer to her as the Holychild girl.
Liz: I am always wanting to explore more of the fashion side. We were just saying yesterday that it’s interesting how adamant I am about that side of us, and Louie was saying, well yeah, we took our name from a sweatshirt so it’s not crazy…
Louie: I mean, it wasn’t just a sweatshirt, it was a thing.
Liz: Yeah yeah yeah, I definitely took it and made it my own. It’s been really fun to have the freedom to wear what we want and explore different worlds.
Holychild’s debut album The Shape of Brat Pop to Come is out now on Glassnote.