Jean-Philip Grobler, best known as synth-pop extraordinaire St. Lucia, was born in Johannesburg, studied in Liverpool, and based in Brooklyn. He cites as influences the likes of Mew, Phil Collins, Radiohead, Paul Simon, and Fleetwood Mac. These are all major credentials.
Grobler started making music when he was just 12, and moved to Liverpool’s Institute for Performing Arts at age 19. Then, he moved to Brooklyn, and in 2012 he signed with Neon Gold Records (Passion Pit, Haim, Miami Horror), and released his first EP as St. Lucia. His collaborations with The Knocks and HAERTS and remixes for Passion Pit, Foster The People and Charli XCX quickly put him on the indie electronic radar.
St. Lucia‘s sound is heavily influenced on 80’s synths and vocal style, but at times is frantic and gleefully overloaded with elements. Especially, drums filled with ghost notes and details with ecstatic synth progressions offer a non-stop barrage of sonic experiences. Then, suddenly, snappy hooks and catchy choruses create perfect synth-pop anthemic epics.
Mixing old references and inspiration with modern instrumentation and production can be tricky. After all, there’s only so much you can do before sounding like someone else. At times, Grobler relies too heavily on his education and influences to let his authenticity shine through, and a collage of formulas mixed in a four-minute journey results in a personality shift throughout.
Nonetheless, his relentless and complex approach to music will most certainly shine in St. Lucia‘s future defining third album. After a cautious debut in 2014 with When The Night, and a frenetic sophomore in 2016 with Matter, it will be certainly interesting to hear what Grobler brews up in the future.
For the time being, though, St. Lucia is best enjoyed with a condensation-dripping cold summer drink. For the best experience, their live, full-band performance is absolutely flawless.
Recommended tracks: Dancing On Glass, Elevate, September.
Catch them on tour.