Of all the incredible acts we have lined up in L.A. over the next few days, all anyone keeps asking about is St. Lucia, synth-pop phenom Jean-Philip Grobler’s one-man band. The Johannesburg-born, Brooklyn-based former choir boy is playing our kick-off party Wednesday night at The Standard, Downtown LA before heading off to the desert. Here’s what he has to say for himself…
STANDARD CULTURE: As a kid growing up in South Africa you attended the famed Drakensberg Boys Choir School and performed all around the world. How did that shape you as a musician? JEAN-PHILIP GROBLER: Being on the road with the choir definitely helped prepare me for my life on the road now. We didn't have TVs on the tour bus, or laptops, or even iPods, so we'd just occupy our time by staring out the window, or reading, or being rascals. Now that we have every form on entertainment at our fingertips it doesn't seem nearly as boring as it should.
You live in Brooklyn now. What do you miss most about Johannesburg? Mainly my family. It's definitely not easy to find my family around Brooklyn! [laughs]
Where does the name St. Lucia some from? The name came about from me just closing my eyes and sticking a pen on a map of South Africa. St. Lucia was the fifth place that the pen landed on.
You were at SXSW this year. Any highlights or lowlights? The best part was definitely the tacos, the good-ish weather and the crowds at our shows. The not-so-good part was that I pretty much completely lost my voice on the last day after playing nine shows straight. And I still had three left to do!
What’s the last record you fell in love with? I've been listening to the Rhye album a lot. I know a lot of people wouldn't take this as a compliment, but it's kind of perfect background music, which in my book is the highest compliment. I wish I could make music that can stay on in the background! The amazing thing about it is that it's also incredibly engaging when you properly listen to it on headphones. So, yes, I think that's a really great record. We’re excited to see you perform tomorrow night on the roof of The Standard, Downtown LA. What are you looking forward to? I'm a complete sucker for the weather in LA. And, of course, the tacos.
Any big plans for summer? We're playing a bunch of festivals, like The Governors Ball, Lollapalooza, Firefly and Boston Calling, then we'll be getting all the pieces in place for the album release. There are also a bunch of artists I'd like to work with in the studio, and I'm finishing up the Haerts album, which is sounding great so far.
What about your own record? We can't wait! Every time I answer this question it seems to get later and later, but we’re actually finally getting the album mastered in a couple of weeks, in the middle of April, so it shouldn't be too long after that.