Interview: St. Lucia

St. Lucia, aptly named after the little tropical island in the Caribbean, is the project of Jean-Philip Grobler. Delightfully catchy, St. Lucia manages to create a collection of sounds that wrap the listener in euphoric electro-pop bliss. St. Lucia is performing to a completely SOLD OUT crowd this Saturday at Music Hall of Williamsburg, and he was nice enough to take the time to answer a few questions about his new album and the upcoming show.

Olga Zakharenko: You’re originally from South Africa, and have toured and traveled all over the world. What made you want to settle down and produce music in Brooklyn?

Jean-Philip Grobler: I came to New York originally because I was offered a job as a commercial music writer. Being fresh out of music school in the UK, this was pretty much a dream come true, and so I did that for a few years before leaving and deciding to start my own studio. Williamsburg/Brooklyn was kind of the most obvious choice for what I wanted to do because the scene is so vibrant, and after leaving the commercial world I wanted to feed off of that energy. It’s also way cheaper than Manhattan, or at least it used to be.

OZ: Do you feel like you draw your inspiration for your music from the places you’ve traveled or does it come from somewhere else?

JPG: Part of the inspiration definitely comes from travel. Music is very visual in a lot of ways, for me at least. Having a lot of visual ‘moods’ to draw from while writing or producing something gives a lot of texture, and a certain evocative quality, I think. My inspiration comes from a lot of other places too though, but often it’s from the visual side. For example, I love the films of Hayao Miyazaki, and the way that they are innocent while at the same time being full of incredible wisdom inspires me a lot. I also love paging through interior design books, because it draws me out of the present a little bit and into some ideal version of the present, but I also think the dimensions of things and the way things are arranged inspires the same things in me but in the audio world.

OZ: If you were to describe your album in one sentence to someone that had never heard it, what would you say?

JPG: The album, which hasn’t been released yet (so I don’t want to give away too much), is an exploration of both sides of what I find inspiring and interesting musically. I love great and not overly pretentious pop-songs, and so there are a bunch of those. But then I also love songs that are a bit more exploratory, and a bit more psychedelic in quality, and there are some of those too.

OZ: You’ve mentioned that 80′s artists inspire you and your music, are there any present day artists that you feel a connection to or that you pull inspiration from?

JPG: Of course I’m inspired by a lot of the 80′s, but I wouldn’t say I love that decade over all other decades. That being said, I have drawn a lot of inspiration for my music from that decade, and at the time I was starting St. Lucia it seemed like there was a strain of music from the 70′s and 80′s that wasn’t being referenced because it was considered as being ‘cheesy’, or whatever, and that strain of music ran naturally through my veins because I was so exposed to it as a child. And so, it started coming out of me, of course with other things besides that, but it inspired me playing with the idea of what it means to be ‘cheesy’, and where that line is. In terms of what new artists I like, there’s a brand new band from Sweden called Kate Boy that have only released 2 tracks, but both of them are insanely killer. I also love Haim, and I think the next year is going to belong, at least in part, to them. I’ve also been producing a band called HAERTS for the last year and a half and it’s finally starting to see the light of day now, and I’m incredibly excited about that.

OZ: Although you record as a solo artist, you perform with a band on stage. Does performing with others change the themes/sounds of the album or is it pretty consistent?

JPG: It’s always interesting working on a song in the studio for a long time and then bringing it into a room where you’re playing it with 4 other people, and you have to make it work. It makes you think about economy, and you quickly realise if the song is overly complicated, and if it seems that way, it might influence me in changing the recording.

OZ: You’re performing to a sold out crowd on Saturday, how does all this positive reception feel?

JPG: It’s pretty amazing. I was just saying to somebody tonight actually that exactly a year ago I was watching a band that had sold out Music Hall of Williamsburg and said to my friend that it would be amazing to sell that venue out, and now we have. It just baffles me. Even though I believe in my music, I still wonder if somehow I’m cheating or if there’s some black magic involved. That being said, the good reception always creates a bit of pressure because I hope the next thing I do will be as well received. You can try your absolute best, but sometimes it just isn’t that way.

OZ: Is there anything in particular concert goers should listen/look for in your show on Saturday or in your shows in general?

JPG: We’re playing a few brand new songs that will be on the upcoming full-length album. We’ve been playing 3 of them for quite a while now, but there are going to be 2 more. There’s also going to be one extra synth on stage, on a stage of about a zillion synths already.

OZ: Can we anticipate any new songs/EPs in the next year?

JPG: Yes! Of course! I can’t wait to get my new stuff out. It’s all finished and done, just waiting for final release dates etc. It’s coming. Don’t fret.

  • grantybaby

    Great interview! Questions gave great insight into the artist without turning into a boring documentary.