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Upcoming: St. Lucia at The Magic Stick 1/24

If you were lucky enough to catch Two Door Cinema Club or Ellie Goulding at sold-out performances in 2013, chances are you also caught the lush dream-pop of St. Lucia opening the show. With the release of the breakout album When The Night in October, 2013 was a big year for the Brooklyn based band and the future appears even brighter. Led by South-African born Jean-Philip Grobler, St. Lucia kicks off a headlining tour of North America in Philadelphia next month with a stop at the Magic Stick in Detroit on January 24, before wrapping up in Los Angeles in February.
While the band is preparing for the upcoming When The Night Tour, we had a chance to chat with Jean-Philip about the year that was what's on tap for 2014.

MCB: I started following St. Lucia after seeing you open for Ellie Goulding back in January and it seems like you’ve been going non-stop since then with touring and a full-length album. Has this year been a watershed moment for you?

St. Lucia: I suppose it has in some ways, but I still feel like we have a lot to work for and things to achieve. Everything has grown for us in this past year, a lot more people have become aware of us through what I think is a combination of us touring and putting out a lot more music that we're really proud of. I only hope to keep being able to do work that I and we are proud of and that we can get on stage and feel excited playing to people night after night. 

MCB: You’re starting right back up with a headlining tour in January and February of 2014, do you plan to take some time off after the tour? Or is there more St. Lucia business at hand?

SL:  When we start the tour we'll be pretty much fresh off of a 3 week long vacation. I'm actually answering these interview questions from my old bedroom in my parents’ house in South Africa, so I doubt that we'll be in need of a full-on vacation once the tour is over. Maybe just a few days break or something. I'm actually aching to get back into the studio to work on some of the new St. Lucia material I've been working on my laptop on the road, so hopefully that will happen or some kind of production project. I'm sure some other tours will come up too, but for now it seems fairly open. 

MCB: I know you have your hands in a lot of different things, you produced a great album for another band I love, Haerts.  Will St. Lucia continue to be your focus for 2014 and beyond or do you have any other projects you’re looking to take on?

SL: I'm definitely focusing a lot more of my attention on St. Lucia these days. My time in the studio is so limited that the little time I have I'd like to focus on making a great second album. People seem to expect new music from a band way quicker than they used to these days, and so every spare moment I have I'm developing new ideas. That being said, I do really enjoy working with other artists because it can be so refreshing and help you to see music from a different angle, but I think the trick is not spreading myself too thinly. 

MCB: I went on vacation to the island of St. Lucia when I was a kid, so the name of the band resonated with me before I even heard a note of the music. What is the significance of the name St. Lucia?

SL: We are actually named after St. Lucia in South Africa. I grew up in South Africa, and as a child I used to go on vacation to St. Lucia, which is close to the ocean and a wilderness refuge. The place is somewhat similar to what I imagine St. Lucia in the Caribbean to be like. A lot of people go there to escape, and it's tropical, humid and hazy. I came upon the name by putting a pen down on a map of South Africa, and the 5th try was St. Lucia. The moment I hit it, everything about the project made sense. The imagery that the name St. Lucia evokes for people is one of escape, of something exotic, tropical, hazy, and perhaps something filled with nostalgia and memories. This is a lot of what our music is about. 

MCB: When I’m playing DJ sets I love to put on “Elevate,” and people go nuts. The chorus is huge and it just has a great vibe. How do you go about writing an anthem like that?

SL: Ha, thank you! Well, I don't really go 'about it', per se. These songs, melodies and ideas just come to me out of what seems like thin air. I'll be walking down a street or doing something completely unrelated to music and I'll catch myself singing a melody I don't recognize, and I'll realize that an idea has just popped into my head. I'll either record it on my voice recorder, or if I'm close to my studio (which is rare these days) I'll go there and start to work on it. From that point, I'll record every idea that comes into my head and try to judge what I'm doing as little as possible. This often takes a number of months of work on and off, because the moment I feel like I'm forcing something I'll stop and come back to it later. Then, once I have too much information I'll stop recording and start the process of editing and deciding what parts to keep. Elevate, at it's most bloated point, had something like 250 audio tracks. That's obviously including room microphones and doubles etc. I double a lot of things an obscene amount of times, like I routinely record around 16 tracks of the same bass synth line on different synths and at different octaves and with some of them slightly out of tune and with different choruses. I just keep doing this until it feels right and then eventually I have to give it to a mix engineer and together he and I will attempt to make sense of this mess before us. 

MCB: One of my favorite tracks off your first record is “The Old House Is Gone,” which is poppy, but has kind of an unorthodox arrangement and a melancholic edge to it. Can you talk a little bit about that song and are there more experimental angles that you would like to explore in the future?

SL: I feel like everything I do is always at its' very least a little bit experimental. I want every song to surprise people in some way, whether it's to surprise them with its' simplicity, or with its' complexity. I'm always experimenting and trying new angles for songs. For example, there are about 5 or 6 completely different versions of We Got it Wrong, all of which were recorded from the ground up. When I get stuck with a song, I'll often feel like I just need to start recording it again in order to reconnect with the initial inspiration of the song. Even though that is a lot of extra work, it's through that process that I'm able to get back into the flow of coming up with parts naturally and trying new things. So yes, I hope to continue to experiment with what I do. That being said, I don't value 'experimental' or 'arty' music over 'pop' music, because I think that both art forms can make you feel things just as acutely. 

MCB: Lastly, I’m really excited to see you guys again in January, is there anything you would like to say to the good people of Detroit?

SL: We've always really enjoyed playing in Detroit, whether it was with Ellie Goulding or Two Door Cinema Club. There's so much incredible history in your city, and I really hope to be able to explore more of it when I'm there next. 


St. Lucia's debut album When The Night is available now Neon Gold Records and plays The Magic Stick on January 24th with Sir Sly. Grab your tickets for the show right here. 

Check out more St. Lucia right here.