GW-bred, Los Angeles-based band holychild is bringing their brand of experimental pop back to D.C. for their first homecoming show Friday at the Velvet Lounge – one of their first shows since gaining national buzz.
The show is part of the first East Coast swing for the band, which includes recent Elliott School of International Affairs graduates Liz Nistico and Louie Diller. Holychild will be performing for friends and family at the shows, joined by bands Ploy and Sealab in D.C.
Their single “Best Friends” – a summery, bubblegum indie pop track with female vocals and eclectic drumming – was deemed song of the summer by the MTV show “Buzzworthy” last month.
Nistico, whose energetic voice knits the band’s songs together, said the fast start for the band, which plans to release its first full album this summer, will be all the sweeter once it gets back to D.C.
“I’m mostly really excited, and we haven’t been back since we released everything last summer,” Nistico, who graduated two years ago, said.
The indie pop band seamlessly blends elements of electronica and jazz into their catchy songs like “Best Friends” and “Diamonds on the Rebound.” They even bring a Yeah Yeah Yeahs-style edge to its track “Watching Waiting.”
The band traces its origins to a GW dance studio in 2010, where Diller was the musical accompanist and Nistico was a dancer in one of dance professor Maida Withers’ modern dance classes. Nistico approached Diller, asking him to create music for a dance project she was working on. Though her project never came to fruition, the pair stayed in touch, sparking the relationship that would launch both artists into the music scene.
The band also includes drummer Ben Rose and guitarist/bassist Russell Henson.
Holychild recorded their EP “Tribes” in D.C. last summer and moved to Los Angeles last September. After their brief East Coast tour, the band will return to California to record four more songs in May, which will complete a full-length album.
Despite their emerging careers in the music industry, Nistico and Diller said they are thankful for the international affairs education they got during their years at GW.
“We are both interested in international affairs, and it’s nice to be in the music industry and have a more well-rounded view,” Diller said. “A lot of artists we encounter here in [Los Angeles] have limited world views.”
But the trip out west has expanded their exposure in the music world, leaving behind the District’s quieter music scene that nevertheless helped them with plenty of opportunities for collaboration.
For most of holychild’s songs, Nistico writes the vocals and melody, and Diller arranges and produces.
“We’re big on tweaking what the other brings to the table,” Nistico said.
Nistico said that she finds inspiration for music in everything from foreign cultures, referencing her study abroad experience in Nepal, to the discomfort she finds in the “superficial aspects of society.”
“For me, it’s, like, everywhere, I guess. I feel like I’m very sensitive to things that I see,” she said. “I write a lot as well, in a journal, and that really keeps my mind sharp.”
Both Diller and Nistico have had lifelong passions for music, beginning as early as elementary school. Nistico said that as a child she was obsessed with listening to music and discovering new artists, and her appreciation of music was strengthened when she began taking dance classes and felt a “physical connection” to it.
Diller recalled his parents taking him and his brother to concerts ranging from classical to jazz to the Rolling Stones from a young age. He was “mesmerized” by the Rolling Stones’ performance and learned how to play the trumpet, drums and piano.
Diller and Nistico expressed optimism for holychild’s future.
“It’s nice — our goal is to get to that place where we’re touring the world and playing music,” said Diller, adding that the group will be taking “baby steps” until then. “It’s definitely a promising start to say the least.”