Lollapalooza 2016: St. Lucia

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LADYGUNN St. Lucia 3 (by Aaron Klisman)

Lollapalooza celebrated its 25th anniversary by expanding to a phenomenal four-day festival, headlined this time around by the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers, J.Cole, and Lana Del Rey. Curious to learn more about 25 of our favorite performers, LADYGUNN was on hand at Chicago’s historic Grant Park providing a predominately blank canvas for each individual to paint a captivating picture of their unique story. Here’s our chat with Jean-Philip Grobler of St. Lucia, who emphasized the importance of following personal intuition in the face of potential backlash – a philosophy which helped guide the South African-born musician from working at a bar in Liverpool to finally fulfilling his lifelong dreams of being an artist.

LADYGUNN St. Lucia 2 (by Aaron Klisman)

Would you like to introduce yourself to the readers?

Sure! I’m Jean from the band St. Lucia, and we’re playing Lollapalooza today.

What do you love about music?

You know, what I love about music is that I feel like it’s the most immediately-effecting art form. I feel like you don’t need to know anything about music – you don’t need to understand how it’s made, or have any kind of previous knowledge of anything – and you’ll just hear like three chords in a row, and it’ll make you feel something.

Can you recall your earliest memory of music?

My earliest memory of music is [laughs] probably when I was still kind of… I mean, I must have been really, really young ‘cause I still remember being in sort of… not a pram, but like a cot sort of thing. And when my mom used to make dinner, she would put me in front of like the South African version of MTV, and at the time it was like… Michael Jackson was huge, Lionel Richie was huge, and I just remember “Dancing on the Ceiling” – Lionel Richie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling” – and just being amazed that this guy could dance upside down on the ceiling, and I just remember loving that song when I was young.

Did you ever wanna be anything other than a musician?

Yeah, I’ve been sort of interested in a lot of different art forms. I was definitely interested in design of some sort. When I was a kid, I used to draw a lot as well, but I sort of stopped that at some point. But I’ve always been interested in shapes, and texture, and that kind of thing. I’m also really interested in interior design and architecture, so I was definitely interested in that. Also possibly journalism, because I love the English language, and writing and stuff as well.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

[Laughs] Worst job I ever had… was probably working at this bar in Liverpool when I went to school there. It was a bar called Modo, and it was… I mean it was just one of these huge kind of club/bars with like premixed cocktails, where no one gives a shit about their job at all. Yeah, that was pretty terrible. But it was a good experience – it’s good to experience the thing that you really don’t wanna do [laughs], ‘cause it really makes you wanna go for the thing that you love.

What’s something you wish you knew when you were younger?

I wish that I had realized earlier that it really doesn’t matter what people think about you, and what you do. And that at the end of the day, no matter what you do, no matter how good you are, no matter how right you are, you’re always gonna have a lot of people thinking that what you do is shit, and it’s totally anti what they believe in. If you just look at politics today, it’s the same thing. It’s like Obama… to me, Obama seems like one of the greatest presidents we’ve ever had. I’m not specifically Democrat-leaning or Republican-leaning, but I think he’s great, and still so many people think that he’s done a terrible job. And so to me it’s just like… you might as well do the thing that you love, and do it as well that you can…

‘Cause everyone has their own journey…

Yeah, fuck the haters. None of that stuff matters in the long run.

How would you describe your approach to life? I guess that kind of ties in, but…

Yeah, I think over time I’ve definitely become a lot more confident in what I do. And yeah, I’ve realized that it makes no sense to follow someone else’s definition of who you are and who you should be, and what your music should be, and what your art should be – that the best thing to do is to do the thing that you’re inspired to do, because that way I feel like you’re living your life the most efficiently. Because if you overthink things, and if you are constantly thinking about what other people think, just think about all the energy that goes into doing that. Whereas if you’re not doing that, if you’re doing your own thing, even though maybe at the time it’s not the most popular or attractive thing, in the long run you’re gonna have the most stamina to do that thing, so you might as well do that.

What’s been your biggest pinch-me moment?

I mean, whenever we play a festival with a slot like we have today – like today we’re playing at 7:45, right before the headliners which is crazy. And then when we played Firefly, we played just after the headliners, and we had the same slot as like Disclosure the night before and Major Lazer the night after us, and to me that is just… having grown up in South Africa, and having viewed the American music industry and the British music industry from a distance, and idolizing all of these artists, and in some way believing that I could get there one day, but also part of me not really believing it, and then being there and being able to do what I love… I just have to pinch myself every day.

If you had one wish, what would it be?

If I had one wish… [Laughs] This might sound cheesy, but, I wish that we could all agree to disagree. I just feel like that’s the biggest problem in the world today: that people wanna kill other people because they don’t agree with what they say. It’s good that we don’t all agree, it’s good that we all have different approaches and different perspectives to life, but I think we all just need to realize that at the end of the day we all want the same thing: we all want our kids to be safe, we all want our families to be safe, we all wanna be able to live our dreams – we all just have different approaches to get there.

Any final thoughts for the readers?

[Pauses to think] Yeah, I would just say I’d love it if people could listen to our album [laughs], not just our singles. And yeah, just I feel like we put a lot of work into everything, not just the singles. All of our albums, every track I feel is a journey and has a purpose. So yeah, go spend some time listening to it – I’m sure you’ll be… rewarded [laughs].

St. Lucia (by Aaron Klisman)

story / Damon Campbell

photos /  Aaron Klisman

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