Bret Leinen

Holychild Dish Out West African Rhythms and Rock Renditions of Miles Davis

Elizabeth Nistico and Louis Diller's story is not too uncommon--boy meets girl in college; girl graduates and moves from Washington, D.C., to Brooklyn; girl commutes to Washington, D.C., while boy finishes up school; girl decides to say, "Screw it" and sells all of her belongings so she can move back to Washington, D.C., to start a band. Add in a dash of basement-party soul and West African rhythms, and you have an idea of how Holychild were born.

"We spent virtually every night for a couple of months during the summer of 2011 in [Louis'] practice space in D.C. making music together," Nistico explains. At the time, they had no intention of doing anything seriously with the music after drifting apart post-graduation, but after getting sick of the arduous commute from Brooklyn to D.C., Nistico's decision to move back turned into a year-long evolution, wading through various styles and band members to create a journey through which songs such as "Diamonds On the Rebound" bloom with the hippie sunshine in Nistico's voice and Diller's deft knowledge of a head-bobbing downbeat.

A year and a half after the two began writing and jamming together, they have produced their first baby, a sturdy little EP called Tribes, which they're ready to share with the world. "[It] was a fairly massive production for just seven songs," Nistico says.

The tracks run the gamut of indie genres, ranging from straightforward pop to string-driven funk, even an indie rock arrangement of Miles Davis' "All Blues." "We have everything from our West African friend, Gabin, ripping it on talking drum to a local children's choir to the president of George Washington University and a huge gang of vocals on the record," Nistico explains.

The boundary stretching carried over into Nistico's and Diller's personal lives, as they moved to Los Angeles upon finishing the EP. "We decided it would be wise to relocate to a thriving creative environment such as LA to further the project," Nistico admits. "It was here in LA where Louis has reconnected with a bunch of his California friends--he's from Oakland originally--and in turn, we asked Russell Henson and Ben Rose to join us in this endeavor, complete the sound and make Holychild what it is today."

These days, the quartet make a name for themselves not just for their adventurous sound, but also for a live show that Diller describes as "[not good] unless we're all drenched in sweat by the end of it."

But it's a symbiotic relationship. "The huge artistic community here in Southern California has forced us to evaluate who we are and what Holychild are even more," Nistico says. "Since being here, we have written about 10 new songs, and they definitely embody a more complete and cohesive concept we are itching to record in full sometime soon."

Thanks to their ambition and acclimation to SoCal, the experimental collective have been headlining Costa Mesa's Detroit Bar every Monday night this month, playing with such bands as Travelers (featuring members of Young the Giant), Steffaloo and Hotel Cinema. Aside from the simple opportunity to spread their sound into OC, Holychild are convinced their taste as curators during the residency allows them to birth something special. It's an energy that relies on a lot of different sonic flavors from the bands they choose for the sole purpose of reminding bar crowds what it's like to dance their asses off to unexpected sounds on a weeknight.

"We feel so lucky to have all the bands we have booked for these shows, since they're all actually amazing outfits we would get down to, irrespective of these shows," Diller says. "There is not one act we are not personally excited to hear live. There is some very soild and diverse music being played from start to finish at every one of these shows."

Holychild perform at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600; www.detroitbar.com. Mon., 8:30 p.m. 21+. Free.

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