St. Lucia 'follows his instinct' to The Rialto Theatre

The dance-pop artist sat down with the Daily Wildcat in anticipation of his Rialto show on Tuesday

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Picasa and GabboT/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) | The Daily Wildcat

Jean-Philip Grobler, known as St. Lucia, performs a concert in Detroit on May 15, 2014. The South-African artist will headline Rialto Theatre on Tuesday.

I should have danced more. It's a thought most of us will have on our deathbeds. There’s magic in the act of dancing; humanity at its most pure is found within the herky-jerk attempts to sync movement to music. Often awkward, but occasionally sublime, one moment can make the whole shindig worth the effort.

Jean-Philip Grobler is a man familiar with the power of danceable music, having released two toe-tapping pop LPs under the moniker St. Lucia.

Grobler and the band will bring its dance-inspiring pop anthems to The Rialto Theatre on Tuesday. On the heels of kicking off St. Lucia’s fall tour last week, the Daily Wildcat spoke with Grobler on everything from fashion style and hair products, to what’s new in the world of St. Lucia.

Understanding St. Lucia’s music is simple: Take the best elements of pop, run it through a kaleidoscopic car wash of synth beats and add Grobler's inviting lead vocals. It’s the sound of finding $20 crumpled in your pocket, of a light rainfall accompanied by blinding sunshine and the music of choice to cheer up someone who just dropped their ice cream cone.

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The positive vibes of St. Lucia's music trace their roots to Grobler’s infectious attitude and demeanor. Grobler answered questions with the enthusiasm reminiscent of a St. Lucia song, alongside idiosyncrasies like the phrase “really, really” spoken in an upbeat South African accent.

Grobler's enthusiasm translates into the fall tour, which features a few new additions to the show.

“We've added a bunch of instruments and stage set up,” Grobler said. “We already had a ridiculous amount, but we decided why not make it ridiculous-er.”

"Ridiculous-er" may not be a traditional descriptor, but all things unconventional and passionate fit St. Lucia through and through. Grobler draws inspiration from a slew of unconventional sources, be it visual art, architecture or even apartment hunting.

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Many apartments these days use EIFS, a cheap building material that any prospective home-buyer must be wary of. While the connection between creativity and EIFS may have never been made before, Grobler draws the parallel clearly.

“In many ways it feeds into art if you're an artist or musician because it makes you realize how important it is to use the best ingredients whether you're cooking or building or making music,” Grobler said. “To use things that'll hopefully stand the test of time and are meaningful to you in some way.”

Born and raised in South Africa, he moved to the U.K. and eventually the U.S. with quite a bit of traveling in between. The multicultural experiences that Grobler gained from his world travels inform all types of his art.

Personal meanings and eclectic characteristics find their way into his artistic choices, from fashion to music to the interior decor of his apartment. Most everything ties together in some form or another.

“I really like a little bit of a wink in everything,” Grobler said. “Where there's a little bit of a wry sense of humor in it but there's also beauty.”

The confidence to rock the eclectic St. Lucia style didn’t come overnight, yet this distinct style and sound separate Grobler and company from other pop bands. The overall style comes out as an articulate, clean and colorful fashion aesthetic aided by fabulous fluffy hair—a look that can be credited to Arrojo hair products, according to Grobler.

Giving retroactive advice to his younger self, he pointed to the first step in the journey toward that St. Lucia panache: Trust your instinct to be yourself.

“Everything for me fell into place in many ways when I just started trusting my instinct,” Grobler said. “Even though sometimes it felt counter-intuitive or against what a lot of other people were doing at the time.”

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Instinctual describes St. Lucia well, as every aspect of the band comes across as a natural extension of Grobler’s artistic vision.

Trust your instincts by checking out St. Lucia at the Rialto Theatre on Tuesday, and let its synth pop beats inspire your dancing feet.

St. Lucia will play Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $20 and are available via the Rialto box office or online at rialtotheatre.com. Dates for St. Lucia’s fall tour can be found on its website.


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