We share music because we want to connect with others on a deeper level. We want to relay and relate to a message that can’t be said with just words. This April, NYLON is dedicating six days a week to introducing you to new artists and budding favorites. With interviews and GIF portraits done down at SXSW, NYLON’s Month of Music is an exercise in finding aural pleasures outside of the Top 40. It’s an exercise in challenging you and ourselves to not stick to one genre. But above all, it’s a celebration of bold voices and sheer talent. Enjoy.
Last year, Spotify and music psychologist David M. Greenberg created a playlist perfect for beginning your mornings. St. Lucia’s “Elevate” was second on the list, right after Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.” Matter, St. Lucia’s second album, is just as mood-enhancing. And who can argue? With shimmering synths and beats that bop, the dread of a coming day doesn’t seem so bad. Even at St. Lucia’s slower moments, there’s still an optimism pulsing through their music. It’s an optimism that’s more blissful than happy-go-lucky. With St. Lucia, anything seems possible—even working with Grace Jones. Just ask St. Lucia’s Jean-Philip Grobler and his wife, Patti Beranek. Get ready to wake up to their songs.
What song of yours fits the following situations:
Getting ready in the morning?
Jean-Philip Grobler: “Elevate,” I think. I think there was an actual scientific study that was done, where we were the second-best song to wake up to in the morning. Like a literal, actual scientific study.
Patti Beranek: I think it’s the rhythm and something else scientifically. But this was getting up out of bed, not getting ready.
JG: Yeah, but it still pumps you up.
PB: Let’s say “Elevate.”
PB: I think something like “Call Me Up” or something like “Always.“
JG: Me time is normally like, chilling out… so “Out Tonight.”
PB: I think so. “Physical.” Getting down, getting freaky.
JG: Well it depends: If it’s like sensuous, like sensual, then “Love Somebody,” but if it’s, like, getting down, then “Physical.“
PB: I think “Runaway” is a good.
JG: But that’s not sexy.
PB: That’s true, but if you want to get ready for a night out as a girl, then I think you need that beat.
Have you ever been starstruck, and if so, who or what was going on?
JG: I get starstruck fairly easily, but normally I get starstruck by people I admire—it’s not necessarily just fame. I remember I used to and still am into this band from Denmark called Mew, and before St. Lucia, they were playing in Williamsburg [in Brooklyn, New York]. We went to see them, and we went to this bar afterward, and they were there. I was, like, so nervous that they were there, and I got Patti to go up to them and give them one of my old EPs, from my old band. I was so nervous.
PB: Yeah, you did that.
JG: Yeah, I was very starstruck.
PB: I think I would get starstruck—I mean, unfortunately, he’s dead, but if I saw Michael Jackson, I think I would pass out. He was my ultimate. If I saw him, I would pass out. I would be one of those.
If any artist, dead or alive, could cover your music, who would you want it to be?
JG: Maybe Grace Jones?
PB: She’d take a good, nice approach.
JG: Dude, we saw her at the Hollywood Bowl last year, like a week after we played with Empire of the Sun. She destroyed.
PB: She’s amazing.
JG: She played with Future Islands, and Future Islands are great live, but she...
PB: Destroyed every one of us on stage. She showed us all how it’s done. She’s amazing.
She was at Afropunk fest last year. She had like this body paint…
PB: And she’s how old? Like 67? [Editor’s note: She is.] She was topless and hula-hooping with body paint on, and she’s just like, “I can do this and sing at the same time.” The whole time she was hula-hooping and singing. She’s incredible. I want her to cover a song of ours.
Can you recall a moment in your life—whether it’s a song, a show, a video—that convinced you, you wanted to be doing music?
PB: I think Jean had no choice. [Laughs.] I think, even if you try and do something else, it’s always music. There’s no choice.
JG: Yeah, but I think it was probably like when I was a kid—when I was a baby in a pram—my mom put me in front of South African MTV and I would just watch music videos. The one that stuck in my head was “Dancing on the Ceiling” by Lionel Richie, which isn’t my favorite Lionel Richie song now, but that whole thing and how theatrical it was got into my bones.
PB: I can’t remember a moment where I was just like, “Oh, this is it now. I’m going to do it.” I think it has always been a part of me, so I just went for it.
At the end of the day, how do you wind down?
PB: Depends on the day!
JG: Yeah, depends on the day. [Laughs.] Sometimes it’s a few glasses of wine, sometimes it’s a beer, sometimes it’s some whiskey, sometimes it’s none of that. Sometimes it’s like, you go back on the bus and just watch a movie or something. Also, I like making cocktails. Sometimes I’ll just invent some new cocktail. Like yesterday, I made a gin and tonic with bitters and some thyme in it, and lemon and stuff—that was really good.
PB: I love how your winding down involves alcohol.
JG: But on tour, it generally does! It’s just there, you know? Otherwise, you’re kind of just like “Ehhhhh.” Which obviously there’s a lot of days like that too.
Photographed by Kara Smarsh.