Q&A with St. Lucia frontman Jean-Philip Grobler

First national tours for an artist are often about managing expectations. Bands that play to sold-out crowds in their hometowns often are met with indifference in new cities, playing in small venues to small crowds.

The first major national tour for Brooklyn synth-pop expert St. Lucia and its leader Jean-Philip Grobler, however, is bucking that trend hard. Extra dates have been added in several markets, larger venues booked in others, and many — including four hometown shows this week — are sold out.

“Everything’s gone better than we could have possibly anticipated,” Grobler said.

amNewYork caught up with Grobler to talk about the group’s early success, the hype behind its first full-length album “When the Night” and more.


Did the buzz around your extended plays put any additional pressure on you while you were recording “When the Night”?

For me, the pressure came from wanting people who had heard the EPs to feel satisfied with the new material while still being a little surprised. I wanted to do something that would surprise and satisfy.

Several of the songs on the new album appeared on your EPs. How have they evolved?

I think the main way that they evolved was by playing them live. ? I tried to do some new things with the [those tracks] for the new album, but I was already really satisfied with those songs the first time.


You were in the world-famous Draksenberg Boys’ Choir as a kid. When you listen to your music today, do you hear elements of that background in your work?

I think the way that it comes through is in my desire to make everything lush, with a lot of different melodies and elements at the same time. And in our choir we did a lot of African music … and that influenced me rhythmically. Some complex rhythms now don’t feel complicated to me after that.

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