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Interview: St Lucia

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St Lucia are renowned for their vibrant, euphoric synth-pop instrumentals, juxtaposed by layers of deep, dark lyrics. 

Frontman Jean-Philip feels that in many ways euphoric synth-pop is essential to St Lucia's identity, not out of a sense of duty, but because of his naturally optimistic disposition in spite of the pessimistic media coverage. "I’m not saying that every movie or whatever as to have a silver lining, but it bothers me that there’s not more of a silver lining in art; it’s all very pessimistic, and it’s not cool to be optimistic".

Although he believes that the media in some sense do have a social duty to present an optimistic outcome, because of their influential power, St Lucia make optimistic music to frame life’s sadness with happiness – "I believe to my core that the world is an incredibly beautiful place and that the beauty outweighs the bad, even though there is bad".  

When asked about the lyrical inspirations behind Matter and When The Night, Jean-Philip told us that the lyrical approach for both records was "pretty different" and as a general belief, music is best when it is led by the artist’s subconscious – which is essentially how When The Night came into being. "It wasn’t laziness per-se, it was just that at that point, I felt that whenever I tried to make lyrics more specific or literal, I ended up hating them over time, and it kinda took the subconscious depth out of the songs."

With Matter, on the other hand, Jean-Philip explained; "there were less specific lyrics that came along with the ideas I was coming up with apart from a couple of songs like Love Somebody and Always." After doing some writing sessions with other people, Matter became instinctively about the communication of the anxiety that Jean-Philip was feeling at the time. Matter took "more work", so it is naturally what the band are proudest of lyrically.

In the newest album Hyperion (due for release later in September) we can expect several different themes to raise their heads.

"The first one is this idea of a kind-of ‘vision-quest’ or pilgrimage or spiritual quest’, our ‘instrinsic’ and unquenchable human need searching for a deeper connection within one’s self of self and the world runs through ‘Paradise is Waiting’, ‘A Brighter Love’ and ‘You Should Know Better’... Gun’ is partially about gun control in the USA, but also just uses a ‘gun’ as a metaphor for how the media misuse their power."

Another major theme, which is perhaps personal to Jean-Philips himself, is "trying to exist in the world as an optimist and a romantic, but acknowledging the fucked up shit that happens in life and not just living in denial". This dark romanticism is embodied in ‘Bigger’, ‘Tokyo’, ‘Last Dance’, ‘Full Moon Rising’, and ‘Next To You’.

St Lucia’s Spotify Live Sessions have been hugely popular, more so than any individual albums or songs in America. Jean-Philip puts this down to it being "the only place that people listen to music on good-ish quality speakers...our music is made to be listened to on good speakers, not as like an elitist thing, but just because I wanna give people the best thing I possibly can".

Live sessions give us a taste of the energy of live shows, not merely a studio concoction and after watching and listening to them myself, it is breath-taking to see Jean-Philip transform in a Florence Welch-esque way - so wholly immersed in his performance. In one session, the band perform the very first acoustic version of ‘Closer Than This’ which is a completely different style for the band, without the frame of the song’s electronic production. "The songs just always felt like they lost their dreamy haze when we did them acoustic, but I’ve come to realise that’s a good thing, and that a good song should be able to be presented that way and still have some kind of impact".

Reproducing such vibrant electro-pop production on stage is no easy feat, he continues. "it took ages of trial and error, and we started really small and waaay simpler than what we have now." Their focus becomes one of making their performance into a proper show because they want their listeners to truly "experience the world we’re creating with our music".

The best thing about performing live, Jean-Philip tells us is all in that one moment: "feeling time stop and space disappear and it literally feels like you and the audience are in the same space and all your self-consciousness goes away and you’re just there in this totally zen state...it’s like the meaning of life reveals herself in all her stupendous golden glory".

The band’s favourite singular performance was playing the main stage at Coachella a few years ago, "and somehow a ton of our gear stopped working and it was really stressful in certain ways, but seeing all those people in front of us and playing a bunch of new songs for the first time was pretty incredible. Then there was the time where I ran off stage crying at SXSW because I lost my voice.. so it all balances out in the end."

St Lucia finally have plans for a UK tour in the near future and if the new slew of singles are anything to go by, both the album and the live performances will be truly magical.

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