Getting Real: An Interview with St. Lucia


In the cold dead winter, there is nothing that can alleviate the painful realization that you simply cannot go out in shorts and sandals. Still, we all have our distractions that take away from the overall dreariness. One of the things people do is listen to summery records and envision days of sun and beaches in their mind. For me, one of these records I find myself reaching for is St. Lucia‘s album When The Night. This Brooklyn band’s debut album evokes for me memories of a tropical past and has been a steady listen since it was released sometime last year. I had a chance to sit down, have a sip of whisky and exchange emails with front man Jean-Philip Grobler about many things. He was probably sipping something fruity. The band themselves are preparing for another whirlwind tour through the states, with the hope on further building on the momentum they had gained last year.

Have you ever watched the movie Cocktail, and then thought to yourself, our album “When the Night” is a good soundtrack for this movie? If not, or if you disagree, can you think of a movie you think your album would make a good soundtrack to?

Hahaha, I haven’t seen cocktail in a long, long time. I think I saw it when I was really young, like around 9 or 10 or something. I’d say it could be a good soundtrack to a film like that, or to any film with beautiful and dramatic tropical scenery that has an undercurrent of romance.

So you lived in South Africa for a really long time, is there any food in particular there you miss when you are in North America? What are some things that are really tasty there that people here may or may not know about? Also, are you tired of being asked how being from South Africa influences your music?

I’m not that tired of it because I always think of new and different ways that living in South Africa influenced my music whenever someone asks me that question. I grew up in South Africa until I was 19, and yes, there are a LOT of things I miss about it. In terms of food, there are a few dishes like ‘Bobotie’ (pictured below), which is basically a Shepherds Pie, but with curry spices, raisins, almonds and a bunch of other stuff too. There’s also this really special sausage called ‘Boerewors’ that you can’t really find anywhere else.


Do you think the Sax is coming back? or is it back already? I’ve always had a fondness for it, and it appears that St. Lucia does as well. Maybe it never really left, but it definitely seemed like it did. I think it was the best part of M83’s Midnight City, and I was like “the sax is back” and now it seems like it is.

Well, yes, I think the sax is definitely back, but I also think it’s been back for a while. It definitely went away for a while because there was this period in the 80’s where it was in pretty much every big hit on the radio, so people got sick of it. I think it still kind of has that connotation, but if you use it in a way that gives a little bit of a wink then it’s ok.

Did Ellie Goulding ever try to convince your wife (bandmate Patricia Beranek) to shave the side of her head when you guys were touring together, or was that her thing and no one else in the touring party can have it?

There was never any convincing from her, but there were definitely a lot of jokes thrown around about how the whole band should get side shaves in honour of Ellie Goulding for her tour.

You guys are touring once again in the New Year. As fans, we are always curious what is the thought process behind a decision like this, and also, who is the one that decides the path that you tour? Like, if I was in a band, I would probably not go to Minnesota or the Midwest in the middle of winter. Did you have a say in the matter?

We do have a say in that matter, but there are a lot of logistical considerations that go into how you route a tour. For example, any day that we’re not playing a show we’re losing money, and in order to make it to the West Coast we have to go through the Midwest. There are a lot of great cities to play in the Midwest like Chicago and Denver etc etc and so if we’re there, even if the weather is terrible, we might as well play those cities. Plus, we have fans there and we don’t want them to think that we’re ignoring them. :-)

All Eyes On You was one of my favorite tracks from last year, when you write something like that, do you just do a pump fist afterwards and be all like “fuck ya!” or do you not really know that it’ll be a great track?

When I originally came up with the idea for that song, I definitely had a fist in the air ‘fuck yeah!!!!’ moment. It’s almost always like that with song ideas that I feel really good about in the beginning, but that feeling often wanes after the first day. Very often I’ll wake up the next morning and listen to what I’ve done and realise that it’s not as great as I thought it was the day before. With that song in particular, I got stuck with how it was arranged at the time, and had to go through a bunch of completely different arrangements in order for it to work and to be captivating until the end. It was originally a lot more ‘African’ and had a Mariachi band ending.

St. Lucia is touring this spring, be sure to check them out!

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About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.