To be yourself. It sounds kind of corny, but I feel like it’s so easy to be intimidated and swayed by other artists who are doing really well and to feel like you need to imitate that. I’ve learned to stop caring about what people think of me and what I do. – St.Lucia
St Lucia is a South African musician who knows how to bring the energy to his live performances as seen at Osheaga this year. He’s on the road promoting his newest album Matter, and after his set, he took the time to talk about his background, the inspiration for his music, and his philosophy in life these days.
Confront: What do you think of Osheaga so far?
St Lucia: It’s been lovely. I feel like I’m missing something because I haven’t had the catering yet which is the thing that you should have.
Confront: How did your performance go?
St Lucia: It was great! Whenever you can’t sleep and then you have to play a show, which has happened to use a few times, it’s always kind of nerve-wracking, especially because no-sleep messes with my voice a lot, so I have to warm up and be a little more mindful of what I’m doing. It’s also fun because you’re just like fuck it. You know? I’m just going to do this. The crowd was super into it too and getting sprayed by the guy with the hose. It was great.
Confront: How do festivals compare to regular shows? Do you have a preference?
St Lucia: They’re both really awesome because I feel like they both complement each other. I feel like if it was only ever our own shows, it might get a little bit boring. What’s cool with festivals is you feel like you’re standing on the street corner, public-speaking to a bunch of random people and some maybe know who you are and some don’t, and in some way you’re trying to win them over. So there’s a little bit more of a prerogative to put on a crazy show and make new fans. Festivals also have the scale to it that we don’t normally experience at our own shows.
St Lucia: So the name came from when I was looking for a name for the band, and I took out a map of South Africa which is where I’m from, and I took a pen out and I tried sticking the pen around to see what happens. The fifth try was St Lucia in South Africa and it’s a place on the coast, and the idea is that it’s similar to the Caribbean St Lucia and that it’s tropical, a place people go to on vacation. All my memories of going there are from the late 80’s and early 90’s so there’s a nostalgic connection to it. So all of those things really connected with the music I was making at the time so it just all came together and felt right.
Confront: Would you say that South Africa and where you’re from really influences your music
St Lucia: For sure. The Apartheid government, obviously a terrible thing, banned a lot of subversive music that was coming into the country. So a lot of what we got was very pop-y and the most harmless music from the US and England. Because of that, I grew up without ever having a negative attitude towards pop music. I think that’s why our music has these pop songs that are straight up pop songs, but then we also have this experimental side, and it’s because I’ve never had this negative feeling toward pop music that I feel some people have.
Confront: What would you say was the main source of inspiration for Matter and what message does it convey?
St Lucia: It’s a lot braver than our first album in many ways. With first albums you feel a little more restrained because you’re a little worried about what people are going to think about you. So how I dealt with that was by having a lot of reverb on my voice and having everything be atmospheric and dreamy. I didn’t do it to hide myself at the time, it wasn’t a conscious thing, but I felt with this new album I just gained a lot more confidence in my ability as a singer and a performer and I feel that that really translates into the album ‘cause it’s a lot leaner and there’s less dreamy atmospherics.
I also feel like the lyrics are a lot more autobiographical and specific whereas the lyrics for the previous record were a lot more train of thought and dreamier. The music now deals a lot more with the existential issues you have with getting older and parents getting older and wanting to have kids one day but being in a band. There’s a lot of soul searching in this album.
Confront: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?
St Lucia: To be yourself. It sounds kind of corny, but I feel like it’s so easy to be intimidated and swayed by other artists who are doing really well and to feel like you need to imitate that. I’ve learned to stop caring about what people think of me and what I do. If we have a massive hit one day that would be great, but I’m not here to write hit songs for the radio, I’m here to do something that means something to myself and then hopefully means something to other people as well.
Confront: Do you have plans for a tour or new material?
St Lucia: Yeah, I’m always writing new music. The only time I don’t really write is when I’m finishing up an album, so I’m doing a lot of writing right now and there’s a lot of new stuff. And yeah, we have a big tour coming up in the fall which we’re very excited about. It’s basically all North America.
Confront: What would you say is your motto these days?
St Lucia: I always try to remember to just enjoy life. It’s so easy to get stressed and pulled away from the things that you love doing. I think it’s important to take time off in the summer and do things that I enjoy because it’s a lot easier to be inspired when I’m actually being creative and making music.