Two years after Liz Nistico and Louie Diller started writing music together as college kids in Washington D.C., the duo that comprises holychild is still going at it alone — that is, the group is not signed to a label, does not have a manager and self-produces all of its own material.
“It’s just the two of us, basically, and we’re trying to do everything,” Nistico tells Billboard. Judging by the online reaction to holychild’s first batch of songs, however, that won’t be the case for long.
Since posting its first music video on YouTube last October, holychild, now based in Los Angeles, has watched that video (for “Watching Waiting”) garner 113,000 views on the platform. The follow-up, for the song “Best Friends,” has earned 118,000 views since being unveiled in March. While the droll, downbeat “Watching Waiting” pairs its jazz explosions with a dimly lit clip set at a hellish dinner party, the sun-stroked “Best Friends” has a music video full of kids riding bicycles, food fights and wobbly-limbed dancing. The two songs and their accompanying visuals could not be more different, and that dexterity has served holychild — which has since been hailed by the Fader and blogs like Pretty Much Amazing — well in the duo’s young career.
The “Best Friends” video was filmed in Bombay Beach, California, after the “Watching Waiting” clip was filmed in D.C., where Nistico and Diller met as students at George Washington University in 2010. Diller was the percussionist and pianist for Nistico’s avant-garde dance class at the college, and the pair started collaborating on their own music in early 2011. “We weren’t even sure who was going to be the singer,” admits Nistico, who became the group’s de facto vocalist. “We just wrote these songs, but I thought other people would be singing them.”
Late last year, holychild moved to Los Angeles, got day jobs, started recording on a shoestring budgets and “found our stride,” says Diller. Nistico felt the influence of songwriters like Fiona Apple and tUnE-yArDs’ Merrill Garbus, and began connecting the dots between holychild songs to underline her interest in the female role within modern culture, particularly within the pseudo-superficial confines of Los Angeles. For instance, “Playboy Girl,” a kicky track posted online earlier this month, is a subtly sarcastic takedown of gender expectations that sounds like the love child of Passion Pit and Alphabeat. It’s holychild’s strongest song to date.
Having recently wrapped a tour in Boston, holychild has been hacking around New York City this month in anticipation of playing four shows at the city’s CMJ Music Marathon later this week. Nistico says that the duo hopes to film a music video for “Happy With Me,” which has earned 128,000 plays on Soundcloud, and is currently meeting with multiple record labels, in hopes of signing a deal soon.
“Hopefully we’ll get out our [debut] EP as soon as possible,” says Nistico. “Keeping it unreleased gives us more leverage when we’re in these meetings, so we’re still navigating the waters.”