Johannesburg’s St. Lucia (Jean-Philip Grobler) has recently released his latest single Elevate, which is a tune packed with funky beats and catchy melodies, and promises for only more good songs to come. Elevate will be on St. Lucia’s forthcoming album, When the Night, which will be released on October 8th. To find out more about the record, AMBY caught up with St. Lucia to talk about When the Night, favourite memories involving music, freaking out on occasion, and remixes.
AMBY: Hello St. Lucia, cheers for speaking with AMBY! What have you been up to lately?
St. Lucia: Hey Guys! No problem! Well, I’ve been working on a couple of remixes and writing some new St. Lucia stuff, as well as finishing up Production on the HAERTS album and figuring out artwork and music videos etc etc for our record. Relaxation and soaking up the sun while we can has also been key.
AMBY: Your new album When the Night comes out on October 8th! How excited are you to share it with the world?
St. Lucia: You cannot imagine how excited I am. Part of it is just relief that its finally coming out. As I’m sure you’ve heard, the major label system can mean that stuff takes longer to come out. Columbia or Neon Gold have been amazing and supportive, but it’s the nature of the beast for a big company that they have a lot artists that they need to plan the releases for– and with us being a new artist, they don’t want us to get drowned out at certain points in the year when a lot of bigger acts are releasing their albums. But now it’s actually coming out and I couldn’t be happier.
AMBY: Which songs off the record are your favourite?
St. Lucia: I think my favourite is Elevate. One of my other favourite tracks is the last track on the album and the title track, When the Night. It was a last-minute addition to the album, literally the week before we went to mastering I was like ‘I have a new song’ and finished it. I think it illustrates a different side of what I do. I know it sounds narcissistic but I really love all of them (blushes).
AMBY: What’s the inspiration behind the album’s name, When the Night?
St. Lucia: Well, I just answered that for you a little bit with the above answer. The album is named after the final track on the album. I went through a few different ideas for album titles, which all involved the night, because I think there is a lot of dealing with the idea of ‘night’ on the album. Whether it’s the approaching night, or day in contrast to night, or the night itself. And a lot of the imagery of the album, for me, has to do with that transition period between late afternoon, dusk or rather ‘the magic hour’ where the light is orange and just perfect, and then the night itself. A lot of the album, mood wise, happens at that magic hour time, or just before, but then the end of the album goes into somewhat darker territory . And so, I just felt that having a title involving the night seemed appropriate, and what I liked about the idea of ‘When the Night’, is that whatever word you put after that statement determines something completely different, but they’re all in relation to the night.
AMBY: It seems that music has always been a big part of your life. What’s one of your favourite memories/moments involving music?
St. Lucia: There have been so many amazing moments for me involving music because I’ve been at it for such a long time. In recent memory, one of my favourite moments was when my parents flew from South Africa to New York to see me perform live for the first time in 10 years to a sold out Williamsburg Music Hall. It was really emotional, and I think that they were really proud which always makes me feel good.
AMBY: There are some great remixes on your SoundCloud. Do you plan on remixing any other tracks in the near future?
St. Lucia: I have a few remixes coming up. I don’t want to mention what they are or who they’re for because it might spoil the surprise. But yeah, I love doing remixes because it allows me to explore parts of music that I love that I might not be able to explore otherwise.
AMBY: Elevate is an infectious song! What’s the story behind the track?
St. Lucia: Thank you! Well, It was a song that came about very easily, and I knew exactly what to do with it when it happened. I love having songs that surprise you in their final act, or give you something a little different at some point(this isn’t always called for though), and I felt like having the last chorus the same as the first two choruses would be boring. So, I had this bassline idea lying around for a while, which after searching for a while made total sense as the end of the song. I then set about recording layer upon layer of stuff, which made the mixing the hardest part. I went through 26 mixes with Andy Baldwin, who mixed most of the record, and then worked with Chris Zane on it, and then finally with Rich Costey. All of these people are amazing mixers, but I just needed to figure out what I wanted in the song and what I didn’t, and eventually I figured that out through a LONG process of elimination. I’m really proud of the results though. I feel like it straddles the line between cheesy and melancholy and happy and all of these things that I love in music.
AMBY: What are the top live shows you’ve seen in your life?
St. Lucia: All of them were at times when I was obsessed with a particular band or artist and I saw them live for the first time. When I was a teenager I loved the band Live, and they came to South Africa and it was just so amazing to me that this band that was my favourite band would come to South Africa. I felt like I had such a private relationship with them too because it seemed like nobody liked them as much as I did, and so seeing them in person was really special. I was also really into this band Mew from Denmark for a while, and so seeing them here in New York was an incredible experience for me. Recently, the most amazing show for me was seeing Fleetwood Mac at Madison Square Garden on their most recent tour. I definitely missed Christine McVie, but it was incredible how well they still did their thing for their age. I’m a massive Fleetwood Mac fan. I think I cried for about 20 minutes straight.
AMBY: If you could hang out with any of your influences for a day, who would you hang out with and what would you do?
St. Lucia: Oh man, there are so many people I’d love to hang out with. But, I feel like the people I’d want to hang out with would enjoy a really nice long lunch that extends into an evening of wine-drinking and story telling. Those people would probably be Lindsey Buckingham, Kate Bush, Brian Eno, David Byrne, or Peter Gabriel.
AMBY: Which bands or artists have you been listening to lately?
St. Lucia: I think the person who’s been impressing me the most with his releases, even though he doesn’t release that much, is Todd Terje. I really love the Miguel album. A newer band that I’ve really been into is this band Kate Boy from Sweden. Everything they’ve released so far is great. Rhye as well.
AMBY: What’s the best song of 2013?
St. Lucia: Woah, that’s gonna be tough. For now, I’ll say it’s a tie between two Todd Terje’s tracks, Strandbar and Inspector Norse (only because I only discovered Inspector Norse this year).
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about St. Lucia that nobody knows yet?
St. Lucia: I don’t really keep track of what people do or don’t know about me. Let me think. Well, I suppose that one of the things I’ve noticed is that because the music I make seems quite happy, people think that I’m generally just a happy person, but there were absolutely moments during the making of this album where I was lying face down and beating my fists on the floor with frustration. So, yes, I too freak out on occasion.
Thank you St. Lucia, for giving us your answers!