Northern Transmissions managed to track down Jean-Philip from ‘St.Lucia’ while on a tour stop in Denver.
NT: St. Lucia played some high profile shows and generated quite a bit of interest from the media before you releasing an album. Were you relieved when the album finally came out?
JPG: Yeah, I mean anyone who puts out music or art gets nervous. Some of my influences are a little on the cheesy side, like Phil Collins or Paul Simon. I was a little nervous about that aspect. I thought my music might be misconceived or people might get the wrong idea about what I was trying to do.
NT: You were even touted by some press as “the next big thing”. Did you worry that this might create a backlash against the band?
JPG: I think that if you are conscious, there are backlashes everywhere. Many media outlets have haven’t paid any attention to St. Lucia. I’m very confident with the album we made, as well as all the other projects I work on, be it remixing or producing.
NT: You had ‘Passion Pit’ remix one of your songs. Did it turn out like you thought it would, or were you surprised at the outcome?
JPG: Certain artists you ask for a re-mix, and you know what to expect. I was familiar with and a fan of Passion Pit’s body of work. I was really happy with the way the track came out, and yeah, you could say that I was a little surprised.
NT: You produced most of When The Night on your own with the help of Rich Costey (Haim, Waaves). How difficult is it to self-produce? Did you find yourself second guessing the songs at some point?
JPG: Absolutely. The thing with self-producing, you don’t always have a second set of ears. I spent about ninety-five percent of the time alone in the studio during this album. Sometimes you get completely wrapped up in such small details and forget about the big picture. It’s tough as well, because you wear so many hats. It definitely becomes unique when you work on your own.
NT: Is it tougher to remix or produce other people’s music?
JPG: Remixing is the least pressure. You kind of toy around with a few ideas, and have the luxury of experimenting with a few more ideas. I think that production work can be more difficult. I enjoy it more, because there is more of a big picture, and you try to help the artist see the picture. The difficult part is, at times you think you have a great idea, and the band will disagree with you. I really want to help the band because, I want the music to stand the test of time, it will be around forever and they will be attached to it.
NT: You grew up in Johannesburg. How much does this influence your writing?
JPG: There is a bit of influence, but when I was growing up in in South Africa, we had limited exposure to tons of music, unless it was Euro or UK Pop. One of the first albums that really influenced me as a writer was Ok Computer by ‘Radiohead’. It really opened my eyes to modern music. I am influenced by cerebral music and do incorporate it into my music, but my musical roots come from a real poppy place. Geographically, the songs kind of come from everywhere.
NT: Did singing in a choir when you were younger give you more confidence to sing and write?
JPG: It definitely did. We sang in a real classical style, and it grounded me as a singer. It took a while to get used to singing with ‘St Lucia’, and it’s different than singing in a classical boys choir. As a group it took a bit of work getting comfortable on stage and working out all the details as a band.
NT: Which five albums are still inspiring you today?
Fletwood Mac – Tusk
Radiohead – Ok Computer
Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
Mew – And The Glass Handed Kites
Paul Simon – Graceland