STORY BY GARY GRAFF
Even though is debut album, 2013’s “When The Night,” wasn’t out yet when he began writing songs for the new “Matter,” Jean-Phillip Grobler — the South African artist known as St. Lucia — knew exactly what he wanted to do the second time around.
“If there was any kind of intention it was not to repeat myself, not to repeat the first album” Grobler, 32, says by phone from his home base in Brooklyn. “I did come up with ideas that were more similar to our first record, but that felt stagnant or stale and not forward-moving.
“So I sort of threw them a little bit to the side in favor of newer ideas that people who might like the first album might not like. But (the songs) had to feel challenging in some way, or feel refreshing for me, otherwise it wasn’t worth doing.”
“Matter,” which came out Jan. 29, is certainly fuller and more confident than its predecessor, with an unapologetic nod to 80s synthpop. Grobler chalks that up to the time he spent on the road with St. Lucia promoting “When The Night.”
“Certain songs feel a little more bombastic and brave in a way,” he explains. “I feel like on the first record I wasn’t singing out that much; I was shy, really, with my singing. But I think as a result of touring and playing live a lot I’d grown more confident with my abilities as a singer and performer, so I started singing full-out and that really made a difference in these new songs.”
That said, however, Grobler also feels that he hasn’t discounted the moodier side of St. Lucia on “Matter, either.
“I would say this album just goes a little more extreme on both sides,” he says. “Some songs are way more exposed and way more downtempo and sort of bare than anything on ‘When The Night Was,’ and the upbeat songs are more extreme and intense and in your face than anything on ‘When The Night’ was.
“To me it’s expanding the dynamic extremes of that first album. I’m pretty sure the next record will do the same again. I always like to push the extremes of what anybody considers St. Lucia.”
What: St. Lucia
Where: Theater of the Living Arts, 334 South St., Philadelphia.
When: 9 p.m. Feb. 19
Info: For more information, check http://venue.tlaphilly.com/ or www.stlucianewyork.com.