Hangout Fest '15: Holiday State of Mind
Growing up in South Africa, Jean-Philip Grobler spent many summer vacations at the beach in St. Lucia with his family. When trying to come up with a name for his band, he was reminded of his memories there and something clicked.
“The idea of St. Lucia in South Africa is similar to the one in the Caribbean: this exotic place where you go on vacation and it’s beautiful and tropical,” he said. “Whenever anyone hears the name St. Lucia it evokes the idea of a place that they could escape to and I feel like that is what my music communicates.”
This carefree attitude is evident in Grobler’s music, as is his South African upbringing through frequent tribal rhythms. St. Lucia released their debut album, “When The Night” in 2013, and quickly became known for their upbeat and energetic ’80s influenced synth-pop with tracks such as ‘Elevate’ and ‘All Eyes On You.’
Grobler got his start in music at an early age by touring extensively with a boy’s choir before moving to Liverpool to study music, where he met his wife, Patti Beranek, who is also a member of St. Lucia.
“It has always been a dream of mine to have a band,” Grobler said. “But especially growing up in South Africa, that dream is so far-fetched. If you tell people, ‘I want to have a band, and you know, be an international musician,’ people are just like, ‘OK. Cool. Good luck with that.’ South Africa is so far removed from the international music scene. But that being said, I think the Internet has made it a lot smaller and a lot more possible. I definitely had no idea that this would be happening. I have to pinch myself every day.”
Working with one’s spouse can have its challenges, especially when the spotlight is involved, but Grobler and Beranek have had a long time to figure out how to make both their professional and personal relationships work, having been together over a decade.
“It’s been a long time, but we are very fortunate to still be very much in love with each other.” Grobler said.
When the couple first moved to the States, Grobler worked as a jingle writer before focusing on his own music, and Beranek played an instrumental part in getting the St. Lucia off the ground.
“We built this really awesome team of people around us and the band is all very close,” Grobler said. “That has a lot to do with Patti. Wherever she has worked in her life, whether that was a wine bar or a restaurant or whatever, somehow that place has become very well lubricated and has run very, very well.”
St. Lucia’s sound is sensory in more than just an auditory way, evoking images in technicolor through choruses that soar. It isn’t surprising to hear that Grobler is hugely influenced by visual aesthetics.
“In the last year or so, I have gotten really into going to art museums and finding visual artists on Instagram,” he said. “One of my favorite things is to go to this one great bookstore, sit in their coffee shop and page through architecture and interior design books. The aesthetics of a space really interact with my musical brain and inspire me.”
The Brooklyn-based band has been hard at work on their next album for the past few months in New York, so Grobler is really looking forward to coming down south for Hangout.
“I have heard so many good things about Hangout. We have been through such a crazy intense winter in New York that just the idea of this really summery place and vibe is super appealing to us. And playing on the beach—we have never done that!”
2:30-3:45 p.m. Sunday