St. Lucia (Credit: Shervin Lainez)
Jean-Philip Grobler on his cultural fascinations...

St. Lucia have been through a lot together.

Songwriter Jean-Philip Grobler was born in South Africa, travelled to Liverpool to study music, before being drawn to the bright lights of London.

The project emerged from the partnership between Grobler and wife Patricia Beranek, with 2016's full length 'Matter' producing some wonderful pop moments.

Work is well under way on a new record, with St. Lucia sharing four - count 'em! - songs from the incoming full length.

Delving deeper than ever before, the group re-connect with their core inspirations, and throw in some extremely personal moments.

“I thought a lot about what kind of message I want to send to my kid,” Grobler reflects. “In many ways, the things we create as individuals have nothing to do with what other people are creating, or trends.”

Here, Jean-Philip Grobler recalls his cultural fascinations for Culture Clash...

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Books...

I'm gonna be talking about this a lot this album cycle but really the most influential book/books for me over the last few years has been Dan Simmon's Hyperion Cantos. So much so that I basically named our new album after it, haha. I absolutely love reading sci-fi because I'm very interested in the future and how we bridge our modern day troubles, and I'm honestly very frustrated that we're not already a space-faring civilization.

What I loved so much about these books is the level of imagination that Dan has, but also how it's not 'dystopian' sci-fi. It presents a plausible far-future civilization that in many ways is similar to our current world, some places are shit and some places are great and there's a precarious balance.

I'm so sick of dystopian sci-fi because I think it's actually lazy. It's so easy to imagine the worst outcome for humanity, but I think that writers and entertainers in many ways have a duty to inspire people into imagining a better outcome, a better future.

Of course we have to explore the darker sides of the human soul and reality, but the public take so many cues from the media on how to think about the world around them so we have to be careful with the images we put into people's heads. I just had a son almost nine months ago now and I think about this a lot.

Film...

Hayao Miyazaki's 'Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind', but really pretty much any Miyazaki film. Again, what I love about Nausicaa is how it's a very plausible future scenario.

The overall story of where humanity is at that time in the future is pretty bleak, but Miyazaki is enough of a romantic at heart that the lead character is a very optimistic young girl who believes in the good of humanity despite how they've destroyed the world, and it has a happy ending. And yes there's a strong mythological element to it too.

Of course the movie is an extremely pared down version of his incredible seven book manga, but it still leaves me in awe. One of the things I love most about Miyazaki's films is how there's almost never a one dimensional 'bad guy'. You pretty much always understand a persons' intentions and why they ended up doing this 'bad thing', but they're not essentially a condemned 'bad person'. Plus there is so much detail to his animations, it's joy to behold. 

TV Show...

Rick & Morty. Again, what an insane imagination you have to have to come up with anything that goes on in any of the episodes of this show. It's just utter deranged genius. And yes, it's pretty nihilistic but there are glimmers of hopefulness here and there. I'm happy to put my needs for optimism aside now and again.

My favourite episodes are the trans-dimensional cable ones, where they watch TV shows from different dimensions. I basically can't stop laughing. I also recently discovered this series called The Power Of Myth by a guy called Joseph Campbell. I'd never heard of him or this series before watching this, I think it's from the early 80's, but what he talks about it fascinating. It's all about the meaning behind all the myths and stories we hear from antiquity, and how they hold keys to understanding our human nature, the nature of the world and history.

I know this sounds kinda self-helpy, it really isn't, it's more about interpreting these old stories and things like archetypes in order to better understand our current world. Its funny because I honestly think that the more I read, the more I see similar ideas and stories pop up across different books and films and records.

And I don't think it's for lack of imagination, I think it's because there are inherent truths in the world that people discover over time and that you can understand by reading some of the great texts and great films etc. Some things can't be described directly but kind-of need to be described by metaphor, one of the reasons why art in all forms is so powerful.

Gadget...

My favourite gadget is honestly my laptop. For a second I wanted to say my phone, but I actually think my phone is evil and phones don't need any promotion. It's listening to what I'm saying right now and figuring out how to advertise that thing to me. I made my whole album on my laptop. 100's of tracks of high quality audio, anywhere.

Of course I needed some other gear, but to consider how far we've come with these things. I remember back in the day (this is probably revealing my age) these black and white LCD (not even grayscale) screens and trying to play Sim City and everything took forever. Now I have an approximation of every compressor ever made and every synth ever made and a gazillion different drum kits and off I go into the sunset.

Now I'm not trying to undersell the real versions of these things because obviously they exist for a reason and I use them and very much believe in them but it's just incredible what you can do on your laptop these days. And your phone. But phones are evil.

Also books! I know this sounds like the most boring thing ever and like I'm a librarian, but books might be the greatest invention ever. I can't remember who said this, it's not my original thought I'm quoting here, but books instantly transport you into another persons' mind for the time that you're reading them.

You are immersed in another persons point of view, whether they're from Australia, India, South Africa, the 1920's, 1200's, or now. And you get to interpret it in your own way. Go read a book guys. 

Album...

This really is a tough one, and I really love a lot of modern records but probably the most influential album for me ever was Radiohead's 'OK Computer'. I grew up in South Africa, where not a lot of underground 'alternative music' made it or was even allowed on our shores for a long time.

The story goes that one Christmas in 1997 my parents were looking for a Christmas present for me and asked some guy at a record store what album they should get for their son who was just starting to get into 'alternative' music. The guy recommended 'OK Computer'.

And so my parents got it for me, weird cover art and all. I think they even listened to it for a second and were like this is interesting. And please also remember that before this everything I listened to was pretty straight down the line, Bon Jovi, Boyz II Men etc so when I got this album for Christmas and put it on I literally didn't have the vocabulary to even know how to interpret it.

I had never been exposed to anything 'postmodern', any man expressing their feelings or being 'artsy' was considered, well, 'effeminate' in South Africa, and so this was a whole new language to me. Honestly I hated it the first time I listened to it. I begged my parents to let me return it, but it was Christmas weekend and all the shops were closed, so I was forced to live with this hideous album for a weekend.

And so I listened to it a few more times, and with each listen it became less horrendous, and by the fifth listen I was obsessed. I think I then listened to it roughly once per day for the next year at least, and still love it as much today. It gave me a whole new way of understanding music and the world.

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St. Lucia's new album 'Hyperion' will be released on September 21st.

Join us on Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.

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